The Grad School of Rock

Excellent Christgau interview/profile by David Cohen at The New Zealand Listener. “Greil, Dave [Marsh] and I were at one time very good friends, but Dave and I are no longer friends at all,” recalls Christgau. “We shared political assumptions and were all a part of the counter-culture, even though we all were extremely sceptical about drugs and the religious strain of hippiedom, which in fact … Continue reading The Grad School of Rock

More on the Rolling Stone Record Guide

It might have been relevant in the previous post — the Eddy interview — to link to Randall Roberts’ lengthy analysis of The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (the second — or blue — edition) from a paper he presented at EMP a few years ago. I still need to fully re-read the thing myself, but my impression is that what he says about the … Continue reading More on the Rolling Stone Record Guide

Tom Ewing on “The Test of Time”

Tom Ewing’s latest Pitchfork column, which employs an old Dave Marsh Smiths vs. Lionel Richie dichotomy as a launch pad, contains a lot to chew on, examining as it does the dubious critical fallback position of “20 years from now, people will still be listening to this [i.e., this record that I’m praising] whereas few or no one will still be listening to that [i.e., this record that someone else is praising but which you yourself don’t care for].” I bet there’s not a rock critic on the planet who hasn’t written from this vantage point at some time or other, but even to call this position “dubious” is rather charitable. As Ewing points out, it’s a position that can’t really be argued with (unless, perhaps, your name is Mork).

Myself, I fear that I have too often relied on the opposite tack, which Ewing mentions only briefly:

“What strikes me is that the test of time card is played to win internal arguments as much as external ones. It’s often the justifier for something being top of a list, not fourth, or it turns up ruefully acknowledged when talking about a pleasure-perceived evanescent: I’m sure I won’t be listening to this next year but… Posterity here is a cop in the listener’s head.”

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Former Creemster Bangs On About This, That, the Other Thing

Final installment of Bill Holdship’s Creem history/memoir/book review here, at Metro Times. A much deeper dig than the first installment into the story, the in-fighting, the book, etc.

A few disagreements along the way, the most major one being in regards to this:

“Of course, revisionism has been going on for a long time now. In 2000, music critic Simon Reynolds took potshots at Bangs (and me) on his blog, writing that he’d read Bangs’ stuff in CREEM just recently, and while a lot of it was very good, a great deal of it wasn’t all that. But Reynolds obviously couldn’t read it in full context. So that’s sort of like me saying ‘I listened to Elvis in the ’80s,’ or ‘I listened to the Sex Pistols in the ’00s, and I just don’t know what all the outrage was about.’ Take it from someone who was there reading him at the time: Lester Bangs was great, even if it’s harder these days to accept, as Greil Marcus once put it, ‘that the best writer in America could write almost nothing but record reviews.'”

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Creem NY Observer follow-up piece

The New York Observer does a follow-up piece on the Creem debacle, focusing more on Marsh’s, Whitall’s, et al. battles with the ‘zines legacy (and less on the lawsuit). Seems to me there’s an underlying, more interesting battle going on here–a sideshow to Matheu vs. the Creem critics–that being seventies Creemsters vs. eighties Creemsters (witness Whitall’s comment: “‘John Mellencamp?’ she said with incredulity. ‘He’s in there. Come on! He’s so … Continue reading Creem NY Observer follow-up piece

The Creem Dreem is over?

A couple weeks back, I was thrilled to receive my copy of the gigantic, gorgeously designed Creem anthology. Still haven’t read ANY of it, to be honest (that’s one thing about coffee table books that look great–they’re not especially conducive to delving in and spending time with; who wants to mess up all those lovely pages?), but a few perusals through the thing once the initial shock wore off and my excitement level dropped somewhat. For starters, as a few people mentioned in this ILM thread, the bulk of the book’s content is devoted to artist profiles, which, while certainly in the Creemspeak tradition, are probably the thing I was hoping to see the least of–certainly not as the bulk of the package. As “xhuxk” notes in that thread, it’s cool to see in there things like “Stars Cars” and “Backstage” and “Creem Dreem” reprints, but the book seems sadly lacking in record and book reviews (in fact, I don’t think there are any–I’d love to own a whole book of Creem record reviews, come to think of it). Also, the selection of writers and feature subjects just seems a little scattershot, occasionally making me wonder, “why is this here?” (Though, let’s be fair, no collection could satisfy everyone, and omissions are  both understandable and fully to be expected. That’s a tribute to the mag itself, the fact that a true “best of” could never be captured in a single anthology).

Anyway, I was (and am) still happy to own the thing, and there is some great stuff in there, but how much of it I’ll actually get around to reading… not a lot, I suspect. The mags themselves are always close by. (God forbid we should have a fire, the Creem stash will be the first detour on the way out the door–after my wife of course.)

Well, the story, as it turns out, is a lot more complicated.

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