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Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music Paperback – May 1, 2011
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"Willis's work is crystalline enough that reading each essay takes the reader on a trip back to the era when it originally appeared, but it's a testimony to her intellect and talent that those journeys look completely unlike any hagiography you might stumble across. She cuts through clichés nimbly . . . and the essays vibrate off the page." —Village Voice
"Finally, Willis’s game-changing music writing is available in one place. It is like unearthing the holy grail of rock criticism!" —Kathleen Hanna
"A pleasure to read and a crucial challenge when truly considered, Willis’s essays on rock, freedom, sex, and dancing in your bedroom continue to teach me every time I return to them." —Ann Powers
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Top Customer Reviews
A few random thoughts (and to be honest, I'm a few chapters short of being done with this book):
Willis doesn't offhandedly mention dancing to music - she actually did it, and used it as a critical benchmark. She also has very little use for technical prowess. Too much of it gets in the way of good rock music.
Pre-"classic" rock acts like Elvis and the Everly Bros. aren't square in Willis's eyes.
As far as I can tell, Willis omits mention of the Beach Boys (what, no Pet Sounds!) and Led Zeppelin, which is interesting from my more "Generation X" experience. The former may simply not have interested her, what with her political bent as a writer, and as for the latter she would not have been the only contemporary critic who couldn't stand the Zep.
Willis's dissection of the "acceptable" roles of women in music is fascinating. She also describes the gradual adoption of rock by educated bohemians and political types as well as anyone.
Still, like most rock crit it can sag and bore quite a bit. In a way a welcome contrast from the wearing and unconvincing intensity of Lester Bangs or the pomposity of Marcus and the other guy; and of course, the female angle is interesting- historically as much as anything.
Yes, good, but less fun than I'd have hoped. A free mind and - therefore - a good mind, but not a brilliant one.
Maybe I was just expecting more, but there wasn't a lot here that thrilled me. And really, is the New Yorker a good place to go for any kind of authentic rock criticism? Not really.