- Paperback: 420 pages
- Publisher: Serpent's Tail; New Ed edition (2 Aug. 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1852427485
- ISBN-13: 978-1852427481
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 489,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (Five Star) Paperback – 2 Aug 2001
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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)
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)
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. (Greil Marcus)
Bangs was one of the best writers ever to appear on newsprint... When he died, American culture lost one its most astute, ornery, funniest and most soulful observers (New York Times)
Still a byword for rock writing at its most unrestrained and passionate... his two posthumous anthologies... attest to his brilliance (John Harris Guardian 2009-06-27)
The essential writings of the greatest music writer of the twentieth, or any, century, reissued as a Serpent's Tail Classic --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
I've read this book several times. There are longeurs without a doubt but the best stuff is gripping. He knew real rock n roll when he heard it and disses bubblegum quite readily. His article on The Troggs is just sensational.
Yeah he overdid the drink and drugs (and the cough syrup) but so what, he left a great legacy.
'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.
Bangs' writing is straight from the stream-of-thought school of Beat. Although he specialises in tangentially searing past his original point of any piece, or indeed sometimes coming nowhere near it in the first place (to the degree that it takes a few pages to work out what he is actually reviewing), he does it in style with imagination and wit. Although I quite like the breathless un-punctuated page-long ranting-past-the-point sentences, on the infrequent occasion Bangs' writing does get too thought-disordered for me to stomach; and he himself displays some insight into this, in one of his comments that he was "trying to be Bukowski".
However in short, Lester Bangs is funny, and most of the time interesting.
Although some of Bangs' writing might open up new perspectives on previously dismissed music, a cautionary word is that one mustn't take his opinion as anything to base your selection of music on. This is entertainment and as someone once said, "the critics have their audience too".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Probably the worst book on music ever written, a waste of trees, ink, and time.Published 17 months ago by Timsan 55
I never read anything by this tripehound and never would but I keep reading about him and about how great a writer he was.
Really!! Read more