Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Psychotic Reactions and Concert Reading

Transmission's feature this week is a collection of books put together by the staff titled "A Reading List Between Sets: A Guide to the Best Books About Music to Read This Summer." There are some pretty great reccomendations including my own kick-ass (in my opinion) write-up of Psychotic Reactions and Carbureator Dung--a collection of reviews and essays and notes written by Lester Bangs (re-posted below). After being presented the idea and reading through Psychotic Reactions a little again, I've decided I'm actually going to bring the book with me to Pitchfork and Lolla this year for some down-time entertainment (and perhaps creative inspiration). Thanks Anne and Lisa! :)

psychoticreactions_1.jpgTitle and author: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs

About the Book: Sure you can sit around and read the program a hundred times between acts at Pitchfork and Lollapalooza, but why not read some "rock n roll as literature and literature as rock n roll." That's the tagline on the cover of the book Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dungby legendary rock critic Lester Bangs. Bangs was a writer and editor for the now defunct Creemmagazine from 1971 to 1976.

Why I like it: This was a man who was not shy about sharing his opinion on artists, music, or whatever topic might have come up. His reviews read more like strange, obscure novels that had hardly anything to do with the album, but always seemed to drive home just the point/feeling he was trying to make. His writing could be wandering, sometimes rambling with colorful visual vocabulary. Perfect for whatever state of mind you may find yourself in at Chicago's summer music festivals.

Best music setting to read this book in this summer: You might find this book of particular interest at Lolla this year, since there are several pieces about Lou Reed. Bangs loved Reed, and that's putting it lightly. In fact, he says plainly in "Untitled Notes on Lou Reed, 1980" that he "would suck Lou Reed's cock." Call that what you will, but Bangs admired and idolized Reed for his ground breaking work in The Velvet Underground, his unabashed disregard for what anyone thought of him, and his constantly re-inventing himself. According to Bangs in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves," people pretty much kept expecting Reed to die, and by all accounts, maybe the guy should have died, with the way he abused his body. But remember, this was written in 1975, more than thirty years ago, and Lou Reed is stillrocking--taking the stage at Lolla on Sunday. Lester Bangs, on the other hand and unfortunately, is not. He died shortly after writing "Notes" in 1982 of accidental drug overdose while treating the flu.

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