A sign attribute of highly effective criticism is that it retains individuals speaking years after the loss of life of the critic himself. Suppose, for instance, of Lester Bangs, who regardless of having been gone for practically 40 years left behind judgments that also resonate via the halls of rock and roll. The vitality of his work wasn’t harm by a tendency to get unusually near a few of his topics, particularly Lou Reed. “The issues he wrote and sang and performed within the Velvet Underground had been for me a part of the start of an actual revolution in the entire scheme between women and men, males and males, girls and ladies, people and people,” Bangs wrote in 1980.
5 years earlier, Bangs had known as Reed “a totally wicked pervert and pathetic loss of life dwarf,” in addition to “a liar, a wasted expertise, an artist frequently in flux, and a huckster promoting kilos of his personal flesh. A panderer residing off the dumbbell nihilism of a seventies era that doesn’t have the vitality to commit suicide.”
All this he meant, in fact, in reward. Reed, for his half, displayed such elaborate disdain for Bangs that it may solely have been motivated by respect. “What different rock artist would put up with an interview by the creator of this text,” Bangs rhetorically requested, “learn the resultant vicious vitriol-spew with approval, after which invite me again for a second spherical due to course he’s such a masochist he liked the hatchet in his again?”
A journal web page now circulating on Twitter collects Reed’s personal opinions on a wide range of different rock acts and countercultural figures of the Nineteen Sixties and 70s. The Beatles, who’d simply damaged up? “Essentially the most unimaginable songwriters ever” (although Reed’s judgment of the Fab 4 would change with time). The Rolling Stones? “If I needed to choose my prime ten, they’ve obtained not less than 5 songs.” Creedence Clearwater Revival? “I like them rather a lot.” David Bowie? “The child’s obtained all the pieces… all the pieces.” Fellow Velvets Doug Xmas (“so cute”), Nico (“the sort of particular person that you simply meet, and also you’re not fairly the identical afterwards”), and John Cale (“the following Beethoven or one thing”) get compliments; as for Andy Warhol, out of whose “manufacturing facility” the band emerged, “I actually love him.” (“Lou discovered rather a lot from Andy,” wrote Bangs, “primarily about turning into a profitable public persona by promoting your individual non-public quirks to an viewers grasping for an increasing number of geeks.”)
However as a connoisseur of the hatchet, Reed additionally vegetation a number of himself. Of “California bands” like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Useless, he stated “they will’t play and so they definitely can’t write.” Nor, evidently, may the Who’s Pete Townshend: “as a lyricist he’s so profoundly untalented and, you realize, philosophically boring to say the least.” Reed does “get off” on the Kinks, “then I simply get bored after some time.” Alice Cooper represents “the worst, most disgusting side of rock music”; Roxy Music “don’t know what they’re speaking about.” Frank Zappa is “the only most untalented particular person I’ve heard in my life. He’s two-bit, pretentious, tutorial, and he can’t play his means out of something.” But at Zappa’s posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 1995, the laudatory speech was delivered by none apart from… Lou Reed. In rock, as within the different arts, resentment can change into the seed of admiration.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and tradition. His initiatives embody the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Faceboook.