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Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs, who died in 1982, is the most celebrated of the original "Noise Boys" of rock journalism. Some of his greatest pieces - most of them from Detroit's Creem magazine - were collected by Greil Marcus in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. A new anthology, Mainlines, Blood Feasts & Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader, has been compiled by RBP contributor John Morthland and has been published in the summer of 2003. Lester is as yet the only rock critic to have a biography written of him - Jim DeRogatis' excellent Let It Blurt (2000).

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List of articles in the library by artist

Allman Brothers Band: The Allman Brothers: Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas

Review by Lester Bangs, Circus, February 1977

I MAY BE DEFICIENT but somehow I feel grateful for the existence of this Allman Brothers album. Unlike the sodden Win, Lose or Draw, which ...

The Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger, Brownsville Station, MC5, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Stooges: Detroit's Rock Culture

Overview by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, December 1972

DETROIT, FOUNDED in 1736 by a turncoat (to both sides) halfbreed Indian named Quazimodo from the Kuitee tribe which dwelled circa 1670-1777 on the shores ...

Amon Düül: A Science Fiction Rock Spectacle

Sleevenotes by Lester Bangs, unpublished, for Dance of the Lemmings, 1971

Part One: The Aluminium Revolution IT HAD TO HAPPEN! It's been some seven years now since the impact of American popular ...

Lester Bangs: Dear Charlie... Love, Lester

Letters by Lester Bangs, unpublished, 2001

Excerpts from letters supplied by Charlie Gillett to Rock's Backspages* ...

Lester Bangs: Epistle to a Young Critic: A Letter from Lester Bangs, February 1975

Letters by Lester Bangs, unpublished, February 1975

Thirty years ago, RBP contributor Susan (then Suzan) Compo was an apprentice punkette and aspiring rock scribe living in Tustin, California. An avid reader of ...

The Beach Boys: Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Love You (Reprise)

Review by Lester Bangs, Circus, June 1977

THE BEACH BOYS present the most convincing argument in our entire culture for never growing up. ...

The Box Tops: Dimensions, Nonstop, Super Hits

Review by Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, December 1969

THE BOX TOPS? Are you serious? Those yokel hacks grinding out rattly pop for the tyrannical Top 40? Those squeaky-clean goons in paisley scarves and ...

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band: Lick My Decals Off, Baby

Review by Lester Bangs, Creem, March 1971

GAZING ACROSS pop music's stale horizons, past all the cynical ineptitude, pseudo-intellectual solemnity, neurotic regression and dismal dead-ends for great bands, there is one figure ...

Captain Beefheart's Far Cry

Profile and Interview by Lester Bangs, Village Voice, October 1980

He's Alive, But So Is Paint. Are You? ...

Captain Beefheart: Getting Closer To The Captain: Clear Spot

Review by Lester Bangs, Creem, January 1973

"AND THAT PANTALOONED DUCK / white goose neck / quacked, 'Webcor, Webcor.'" Those are the last lines on Clear Spot, from a song called 'Golden ...

Captain, The, and Tennille: The Captain and Tennille: Come In from the Rain

Review by Lester Bangs, Circus, September 1977

IT'S TOO EASY to be cynical about the Captain and Tennille. People who pride themselves on being hip and chic find it very convenient to ...

The Carpenters: Carpenters: Now And Then

Review by Lester Bangs, Let It Rock, November 1973

WHAT ARE WE gonna do with these two? Look, ain't saying I don't love 'em – they've always been one of my favourite swoontracks, especially ...

Valerie Carter: Just A Stones's Throw Away

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, April 1977

VALERIE IS A singer who happens to be very beautiful, with sulky lips and ethereal Emmylou Harris eyes. This bit of good fortune should not ...

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live In Europe (Fantasy)

Review by Lester Bangs, Let It Rock, April 1974

I MEAN REALLY, who cares about Creedence anyway? They're dead now, I'd already forgot about 'em till this thing came out. ...

Deep Purple: Who Do We Think We Are!

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, March 1973

HOT DAMN, it's a new Deep Purple album! ...

The Doors: Jim Morrison: Bozo Dionysus A Decade Later

Essay by Lester Bangs, Musician, August 1981

WE SEEM TO BE in the midst of a full-scale Doors Revival. It had been picking up steam for a while, but when Jerry Hopkins' ...

The Doors: The End Is Always Near: Dread, Drunkenness and The Doors, Pt. 1

Retrospective by Lester Bangs, unpublished, 1975

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF the Doors should not be underestimated; it has been too often already. When you consider that they represented, in the positivist context ...

The Doors: The End Is Always Near: Dread, Drunkenness and The Doors, Pt. 2

Retrospective by Lester Bangs, unpublished, 1975

HE BEGAN, like all drunks who have arrived at this stage of the movie, to get in trouble. Havoc on planes, arrested in airports. Pulling ...

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, Mott The Hoople, New York Dolls: Mott The Hoople/The New York Dolls/Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show: Live in Masillon, Ohio

Live Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, November 1973

I'VE SEEN WORSE towns than Masillon but not many. Gila Bend, Arizona is worse by dint of being the asshole of the world, and I ...

The Eagles: How The Eagles Cleaned Up the Wild West

Comment by Lester Bangs, Music Gig, October 1976

I HAVE A FRIEND who is the most depersonalized individual I know – her love life is all mixed up, she's running simultaneous scams on ...

Foghat: Foghat (Bearsville)

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, September 1972

NOBODY LIKES Savoy Brown except everybody. Why? What? Well, you know, you either like 'em or ya don't. If you do, you got no problems. ...

Rory Gallagher: Rory Gallagher (Atco)

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, January 1972

‘RORY GALLAGHER, formerly of Taste, is now on his own and happening.’ That's what the ads say, but what do they know? ...

Ian Hunter: Reflections Of A Rock Star

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, September 1976

Ian Hunter: Coping With Modern Day Rock Stardom ...

Jefferson Airplane: 30 Seconds Over Winterland (Grunt)

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, June 1973

WHAT A BUNCHA duds. What a deadass disco. What a waste of space, Mace, grease, you name it. Time was when the Jefferson Airplane were ...

Kraftwerk: The Final Solution To The Music Problem?

Interview by Lester Bangs, New Musical Express, September 1975

In the beginning there was feedback: the machines speaking on their own, answering their supposed masters with shrieks of misalliance. In the music of KRAFTWERK we ...

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Rocks On

Review by Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, June 1972

THERE'S NOT TOO MANY of those greasy rockers still hanging around from their '50s heydaze good for much more than playing 50 tank towns a ...

Nils Lofgren: I Came To Dance

Review and Interview by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, April 1977

"I am 25, and I intend to keep playing my ass off when I'm 30 and way past that, too." ...

MC5: Kick Out The Jams

Review by Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, April 1969

WHOEVER THOUGHT when that dirty little quickie 'Wild In The Streets' came out that it would leave such an imprint on the culture? First the ...

John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, November 1971

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN has been around: gigging with Graham Bond in 1966, Jack Bruce in ‘68 and intermittently with Miles Davis since then, he has cut ...

The Mekons: The Mekons Story (CNT) 1982

Sleevenotes by Lester Bangs, CNT Records, 1982

THE MEKONS are the most revolutionary group in the history of rock 'n' roll. They are also the finest artists ever to have graced this ...

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

Essay by Lester Bangs, Stranded (ed. Greil Marcus), 1979

VAN MORRISON'S Astral Weeks was released ten years, almost to the day, before this was written. It was particularly important to me because the fall ...

Nico: A Kind Of Frozen Purity

Profile by Lester Bangs, Fusion, November 1971

NICO IS one of the true enigmas of our time. Austere, elusive, a tall ghostly woman with an aura of utter loneliness and distance so ...

Ted Nugent: Free-for-All

Review by Lester Bangs, Circus, February 1977

IDI AMIN, Grand Kleagle of the topographic boil of Uganda, has said, in response to world press canards that he's a mere throwback: "I am ...

Iggy Pop, The Ramones: Iggy Pop: Cobo Arena, Detroit

Live Review by Lester Bangs, New Musical Express, November 1977

Iggy suffers metallic KO, Ramones rule OK? ...

John Prine: The Troubadour, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, January 1972

EVERYBODY'D BEEN talking about this guy Prine, how he was Kris Kristofferson's boozin' buddy or something, and since I like Kristofferson's Kerouacian American romanticism I ...

Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music

Review by Lester Bangs, Creem, March 1976

IT HAS BEEN suggested that in my annual regress report to the stockholders, published here last month, I neglected in all five thousand words to ...

Lou Reed: A Deaf Mute In A Telephone Booth

Interview by Lester Bangs, Let It Rock, November 1973

YOU WALK into the dining room of the Holiday Inn filled with expectation at finally getting to meet one of the musical and psychological frontiersmen ...

Jonathan Richman: Town Hall, New York City

Live Review by Lester Bangs, New Musical Express, November 1976

THE FUNDAMENTAL things apply, as time goes by. Like Sister Ray, for instance. It had only been out for a couple of years when Jonathan ...

Bob Seger: Detroit '77: Seger's Open For Business

Live Review by Lester Bangs, Creem, August 1976

DETROIT– Pontiac Stadium is bigger than the Houston Astrodome. When they have football games here, they seat 80,000. ...

The Shaggs: Better Than the Beatles (and DNA, Too)

Retrospective by Lester Bangs, Village Voice, January 1981

I HAVE BEEN getting whiny letters from a lot of you lately complaining about the general state of the art. "What is all this shit?" ...

Slade: Slade Alive!

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, October 1972

GOOD FOR SLADE. They made it at last. These guys have been kicking around the Limey lard-tub for a little while now, garnering a fan ...

Slade: Cum On Feel The Boyz

Report and Interview by Lester Bangs, Let It Rock, October 1973

I'VE NEVER SEEN anything like it, though you may have. The kids come jostling in and pack the halls every time. Two or three thousand ...

Patti Smith: Easter

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, May 1978

Dear Patti, Start the Revolution Without Me ...

The Stooges: The Apotheosis Of Every Parental Nightmare

Profile by Lester Bangs, Stereo Review, July 1973

THE BIGGEST TREND on the rock circuit this year is decadence. ...

Sun Ra: Atlantis

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, June 1973

SAN RA SURE is a good old dog to have around. He's been spooning out this same clank for years, and it's every bit as ...

The Sylvers: Something Special

Review by Lester Bangs, Circus, January 1977

WHAT'S WRONG with disco music? All my friends hate it, so I know there must be something good about it. They say it's inhuman; I've ...

Bernie Taupin: Bernie Taupin (Elektra)

Review by Lester Bangs, Phonograph Record, March 1972

ON NEW YEAR'S EVE of 1972 I attended a great party thrown by someone I didn't know and inadvertently fell into a protracted conversation with ...

List of genre pieces

Dear Charlie... Love, Lester

Retrospective by Lester Bangs, Excerpts from letters to Charlie Gillett, 1971

CREEM,187 South Woodward Avenue, Suite 203Birmingham, Michigan 48011(313) 642-8833[Autumn 1971] ...

How to be a Rock Critic: A Megatonic Journey

Essay by Lester Bangs, Shakin' Street Gazette, October 1974

LATELY I'VE NOTICED a new wrinkle on the American landscape: it seems as if there's a whole generation of kids, each one younger than the ...

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