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Psychotic Reactions and Carburettor Dung [Spiral-bound]

Lester Bangs , Greil Marcus
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 1988
Before his death aged 33 in 1982, Lester Bangs wrote wired, passionate pieces on Barry White, Iggy Pop, The Clash, John Lennon, Lou Reed: 'I always wanted to emulate the most self-destructive bastard I could see, as long as he moved with some sense of style. Thus Lou Reed.' To his journalism, he brought the talent of a great fiction writer. As Greil Marcus writes in his introduction: 'What this book demands from a reader is a willingness to accept that the best writer in America could write almost nothing but record reviews.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Spiral-bound: 388 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (4 July 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434044563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434044566
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,126,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Collected work of Lester Bangs, the passionate, brilliant, and inspirational writer, who was immortalised in the film Almost Famous.

Psychotic Reactions collects Lester Bangs' most wired, passionate writing on legendary figures in music history, including Barry White, Iggy Pop, The Clash, John Lennon, and Lou Reed: 'I always wanted to emulate the most self-destructive bastard I could see, as long as he moved with some sense of style. Thus Lou Reed.'

To his writing he brought the talents of a great novelist and became one of the most celebrated writers in the history of music journalism. Immersed in the rock 'n' roll lifestyle about which he wrote, Bangs died tragically young in 1982 at the age of 33.

'Pure Bangs in full effect ... [He] wasn't the greatest ever rock critic because he split away, way beyond rock criticism. These are the places he went.' Uncut

'A superb collection ... Wild and funny and unpredictable. Lester Bangs was a great American writer who happened to write about rock 'n' roll.' Rolling Stone

'Bangs was one of the best writers ever to appear on newsprint ... When he died American culture lost one of its most astute, ornery, funniest and most soulful observers.' New York Times

'One of the most significant books ever written about music. 10/10.' Loaded

'A swaggering, scary, defiant, superhuman piece of writing.' Q

'A marvellous collection ... It will unquestionably teach you more about rock music and the appreciation thereof than a two-year subscription to all of the current British rock papers and mags.' Time Out

'Bangs created a grand philosophical gesture from the dynamics of fandom.' Wire

'One of life's great gurus.' Julian Cope

Lester Bangs started his career in music journalism as a record reviewer for Rolling Stone. He went on to write for and then edit the magazine Creem, before moving to New York and covering the burgeoning punk scene, writing in daily newspapers and the Village Voice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism. He writes for newspapers and magazines including Rolling Stone and The Village Voice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock'n'roll on every page 19 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a compelling, though in places quite challenging, compilation of Bangs' articles for Creem magazine, The Village Voice and other publications throughout the 70s and early 80s. His style of writing was almost like the music he reviewed, at times in short and punchy riffs, in other articles going off on extemporised sequences where he expresses himself using incoherent hippy jive language straight from the streets. He confesses to writing one article for 12 straight hours and you can feel it in the language, like it was written on amphetamines so he could finish it to deadline. Although, like most rock journalists he was prone to hyperbole in his assessments of major artists and their records there is a lot of intelligent and astute observation about the rock business in this book. The chapters on his love hate relationship with, and searing criticism of, Lou Reed provide the most humorous sequences for me. For example, Bangs interviews Reed in his hotel room with a transexual and observes " ...it was almost unmistakably a guy. Except that behind its see thru blouse, it seemed to have tits. Or something. It was beyond light and shade. It was grotesque. Not only grotesque, it was abject, like something that might have grovelingly scampered in when Lou opened the door to get the milk and papers in the morning". Bangs is also capable of endearingly irreverent wit, for example describing Barry White as "nineteen pounds of pure lumbering animal who makes Leslie West look like Steven Tyler". Indeed his article on Barry White's schmoozy stage show is so close to the bone its stone cold brilliant. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All hail the king of rock journalism 6 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you like your rock journalists to be more out-there than the so-called stars that they write about, then read Lester Bangs. By turns abusive, reverent, irreverent, witty, humane and incisive, this man was the greatest rock hack of them all. This collection is a must-read, and the arrangement of the articles gives the reader the sense that Bangs was growing up, but was not losing the plot by any means. It's a sad loss that he is not still with us. Read this book, feel your enthusiasm for music be rekindled and then go and tell all your friends about it. Brilliant.
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3.0 out of 5 stars At last! The worst of Bangs all in one place! 26 Feb 2014
By Patrick Neylan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Lester Bangs might have been 'the greatest music journalist ever', but his rambling, gonzo style is still an acquired taste. There was a clue to his limitations in the opening piece in 'Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste': when he's not writing about music, Bangs is self-indulgently tedious. In short, there's a passion to his music writing that evaporates as soon as he strays into other areas, and this book does too much of that.

'Psychotic Reactions' contains plenty of his quirkily brilliant music journalism - hence the three stars - but it's weighed down by far too many rambling pieces with only the vaguest relevance to rock'n'roll. There's even a section entitled 'Unpublishable', and believe me that's an accurate description. One item details how he'd spent every New Year's Eve since 1967; then there's a book review followed by five pages of notes for the same review, which is an unutterably pointless waste of space.

Then there's a rambling, 12-page piece that I think is a movie review - though I had to check on the internet to be sure - which includes four pages of Bangs' own fantasy and a scene-by-scene synopsis of the film. It's tedious as hell.

'Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste' is a brilliant collection, so how can another collection by the same author fall so flat? Probably because the editors of Main Lines thought of Bangs as a music journalist, while this collection's editor, Greil Marcus, was a friend of Bangs and wanted to present "the story … of one man's attempt to confront his loathing of the world, his love for it, and to make sense of what he found in the world and within himself."

Marcus has taken a great writer and sought out his weakest and most dated writing - thankfully fleshed out with some of his good stuff - in an attempt to create a sort of posthumous autobiography. But Bangs was Marcus' friend, not mine, and I simply don't care.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master of Rock Writing in full swing! 1 Mar 2002
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I love Lester Bangs' unrestrained style: the passionate torrents of words, the extravagant metaphors and the keen insight. Above all, his contagious enthusiasm serves to drive one back to the music - to listen, enjoy and appreciate again and again. Apparently this book does not contain all of his best work but I intensely enjoyed the tales of his various encounters with Lou Reed, the pieces on No Wave (Reasonable Guide To Horrible Noise), Peter Laughner, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, as well as his hilarious warnings against James Taylor and Barry White. Just sometimes, he loses me when the writing becomes impenetrable and he goes off on too many tangents, as in pieces like "Fragments 1976 - 1982" and "Ten Post-Lib Role Models for the 80s" from the chapter titled Unpublishable. Where I do not agree with him, as in his (perhaps tongue-in-cheek?) endorsement of Reed's "Metal Machine Music," he still makes me laugh. Bangs would also have made a great novelist as is evident from the excerpt from Maggie May (1981). To understand Lester and the background to this compilation, I recommend reading Jim DeRogatis' excellent biography "Let It Blurt" at the same time, as it also contains an impressive bibliography of his work and articles about him. I look forward to more Big Bangs - more of his remarkable writings being made available in compilations.
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