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Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A…

Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader

by Lester Bangs

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I am officially declaring myself through with Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste. My tolerance for drug-induced, stream of conscious writing is slim, and 400+ pages of such is just too much. So, at a bit past the halfway mark, I'm calling it quits.

Which isn't to say that there isn't some interesting pieces in here — Kind of Grim, his article on Miles Davis, for instance, is excellent as is his Patti Smith piece, even if I don't entirely agree with his comments on the latter. If there had been more selections like those, or they had been better organized, I might have made it through to the end.

But, instead, we get 3 pieces on how the Rolling Stones are irrelevant (1973 Nervous Breakdown, It's Only the Rolling Stones, State of the Art: Bland on Bland), all organized such that they come one after the other. It's not even that I necessarily disagree — post-Exile, the Stones were (and still are) irrelevant. It's more that we don't need 3 articles over 20 pages to repeat the same arguments.

In the end, the book would have probably been better served being edited by someone who wasn't as close to Bangs as Morthland appears to have been, or at least someone who was more willing to make the tough decisions to leave items out. A good deal of culling — of the repetitive or just plain poorly focused sections (in particular, I don't think anyone would have complained if Drug Punk, the section of previously unpublished juvenilia, had been omitted) — and a different organization would have made the collection seem like less of a chore. ( )
  g026r | Jul 10, 2010 |
Lester Bangs is one of those writers anyone who writes about rock 'n' roll will eventually get around to. Though an acerbic, irreverent blowhard, he never let himself be trapped by the persona he created, often crafting literate, well-thought pieces about some of the best popular music of his time. Until this collection was released, the only available source of Bangs' work for most people was the Greil Marcus-edited "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung," an excellent collection hampered by Marcus's pompous introduction and his editorial cherry picking. Avoiding pieces on more popular bands, he chose articles and reviews that allowed him to fit Bangs into his own preconceived notion of him. In "Main Lines," editor John Morthland acts with a little more humility, letting Bangs hang out in all his glory.

Articles on Dylan, the Stones and Black Sabbath sit along with the more obscure works, showing a side of Bangs "PSCD" avoided (his ferocious slam of Dylan's "Desire" album should be required reading for rock critics and his article on Sabbath shows an intelligent, thoughtful Ozzy Osbourne that has been forgotten in the haze of drugs and television camp over the past few decades). A great collection, and necessary reading for those interested in rock writing.

(This review originally appeared on zombieunderground.net) ( )
1 vote coffeezombie | Nov 18, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lester Bangsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morthland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375713670, Paperback)

Before his untimely death in 1982, Lester Bangs was inarguably the most influential critic of rock and roll. Writing in hyper-intelligent Benzedrine prose that calls to mind Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, he eschewed all conventional thinking as he discussed everything from Black Sabbath being the first truly Catholic band to Anne Murray’s smoldering sexuality. In Mainlines, Blood Feasts, Bad Taste fellow rock critic John Morthland has compiled a companion volume to Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, the first, now classic collection of Bangs’s work. Here are excerpts from an autobiographical piece Bangs wrote as a teenager, travel essays, and, of course, the music pieces, essays, and criticism covering everything from titans like Miles Davis, Lou Reed, and the Rolling Stones to esoteric musicians like Brian Eno and Captain Beefheart. Singularly entertaining, this book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the history of rock.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:04 -0400)

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