A formidable question, posed by Mark Sinker at Freaky Trigger, and a fetching/daunting examination of its many contours and contradictions. The surgery begins with a complaint (from a friend of Mark’s) about Nick Tosches’ review of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in Rolling Stone, I think because Tosches seems to not address the record itself. Which leads to a trail of thought that includes Flaubert, the Grotesque (not the Fall album), Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and the dread NoiseBoysism. Sinker on the latter:
Richard Meltzer, Lester Bangs, Nick Tosches: when James Wolcott dubbed them the Noiseboys, he did everyone (as so often) a disservice, including them, by collapsing them into just one wild-style jerk-store project and mislabelling it to match. They were friends in mischief, to be sure, but they were none of them particularly like one another in style or even tactic. What they did in fact share was a perverse attitude towards deep cultural knowledge, a feel for how to write and how to play and what was out there besides just rock. Elsewhere rockwrite was already sleepwalking uneasily — so they felt — towards a narrow pedantry, autodidact learning as a mode of borrowed bad authority. One escape route: knowledge as all-purpose bust-it-wide toolkit, as weaponry on behalf of the militant mutant grotesque that was rockthink’s earliest best contribution.