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Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  6,869 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
Vintage presents the paperback edition of the wild and brilliant writings of Lester Bangs--the most outrageous and popular rock critic of the 1970s--edited and with an introduction by the reigning dean of rack critics, Greil Marcus. Advertising in Rolling Stone and other major publications.
Paperback, 386 pages
Published September 12th 1988 by Anchor (first published 1987)
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Shelby Stevens You do realize that Lester would totally disapprove of the Kindle right?
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Feb 28, 2007 Kai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Enthusiasts
Shelves: alltime
On the cover it reads 'Rock and Roll as Literature. Literature as Rock and Roll' and that is nothing short of the truth. This man goes so quickly from musings of his adolesant sexual frustrations to how that relates to the raw energy and power of The Stooges... This is a man so disgusting and proud of it that every filthy noise distortion emmited on any Velvet Underground album sends him into histerics. But oh what a writing style. You want to be him, though vaugley you can never see yourself as ...more
matt. singer.
Nov 03, 2007 matt. singer. rated it really liked it
Lester Bangs is the only rock critic whom musicians truly accepted as one of their own. It’s no wonder: He lived like them and he died like them, overdosing on pills at age 33. Most importantly, he wrote as they played. His wildly energetic prose reads unlike any other contemporary writer, much less a music critic: Words seemed to spill straight from his brain onto the page in the wonderful cacophony of an Ornette Coleman sax solo or a Captain Beefheart tune. He was, in some ways, a rock ’n’ rol ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Frederick rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Rock fans, Punk fans, fans of The Velvet Underground.
Lester Bangs is mentioned (along with many other people with the initials "L.B.") in "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," by R.E.M. He deserves mention. This collection of essays shows that Lester Bangs was an impassioned, articulate writer.
His unenviable calling was that of the critic. Few critics have ever written with such sincerity.
Lester Bangs lived a short life. If I'm not wrong, he didn't live much past the time rock's biggest icons died: Elvis Presley (1977) and John Lennon (1980.)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2009 Maciek rated it it was amazing
I know I'm late to the party on this one, but Lester Bangs is amazing. He had a very specific idea of what rock and roll should be (he was really against the barrier between performer and audience, a barrier many acts actively cultivate), and wrote very passionately about it.

He was often also a walking pharmacy (one of the articles mentions in passing looking up some drug in the `Physician's Desk Reference`, which he presumably owned for that very reason), which adds... err... color to his stori
Aug 05, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
The best music reviews I've ever read.

I recently reread many of these and was struck by the mix of travel narrative / autobiography / aesthetic treatise that Bangs indulges in. At his best, he manages to capture the thinking of a moment or pass off a theory of taste. At his worst, he's better though - rambling, often incoherent, frequently hilarious. I like this passage in particular:

"Well, here's your chance. The Stooge act is wide open. Do your worst, People, falsify Iggy and the Stooges, get
May 05, 2016 Heidi rated it it was ok
This collection was at times a delightful read, and at other times, a tedious one. Unfortunately the former was more often true in my opinion. Some essays felt excessively long-winded to me. I grew tired of multi page tangents which did not better my understanding of a particular body of musical work, or even of why Bangs enjoyed or did not enjoy a particular release or artist. As another reviewer commented, this is more "Lester on Lester" than Lester on music.

I imagine this particular writing
East Bay J
Mar 19, 2009 East Bay J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-music
Man, this was good! I had only read a few articles by Laster Bangs when I picked this up at my local. That’s library, not tavern. I am so completely blown away by how Bangs spoke about music. This man was a huge music fan. His writing stinks to high heaven of his love and respect for music, of how much music moved him. Maybe that’s why he’s able to write so well about music, to say so much in the space of a sentence or by his choice of words. Most critics’ writing, music or otherwise, is just th ...more
Caitlin Constantine
Apr 08, 2009 Caitlin Constantine rated it really liked it
I've been reading this in bits and pieces for several months now - because to read it all at once is like eating an entire box of chocolate and chasing it with six espressos, and a lady needs some downtime every so often - so I'm just going to review it now because I don't see it changing that much.

I think the subtitle of this book says it all: literature as rock and roll and rock and roll as literature. That is exactly how I would describe Bangs' writing style: like Iggy Pop and Nabakov had a b
Oct 10, 2009 Tosh rated it liked it
My teen years were the Creem years, and so Lester Bangs had a strong placement in my youth. But beyond that he was not a music writer that I felt close to. i never bought the drug out drink out poor critical figure. But saying that he did bring music criticism on a higher plane and that we should be thankful for.

My problem with Bangs is that he was very much a character in his writings and critique, and for me I don't find is character that interesting. But still, his essay on racism in the Pun
Apr 18, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Lester Bangs, like Howard Hampton and Luc Sante, takes reviews of media and injects humor, crass, honesty, and a glimpse into his personality. Bangs is likeable because he's a smart asshole, but there's no shortage of self-deprecation in his writing. I also like his writing style because it often contains the same sentiments as a first album: angsty, energetic, youthful (even when he's being curmudgeonly), and somewhat vulnerable. It helps that he loves the Stooges, Velvet Underground, and music ...more
Elias Carlston
Apr 02, 2015 Elias Carlston rated it really liked it
Occasional moments of sheer, transcendent brilliance, mixed with a lot of fun trash. Just like rock 'n' roll.
Kyle Barron-Cohen
Mar 23, 2010 Kyle Barron-Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever year or so I return to this collection, primarily to re-read the Joycean Strand-walk of a rock record review that is Bangs' exegesis of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. It reminds me that criticism can be worthwhile, and that music is supposed to mean something. Bangs believed Astral Weeks to be a metaphysical Testament. At one point he writes:

What this is about is a whole set of verbal tics—although many are bodily as well—which are there for a reason enough to go a long way toward defining hi
Tony Hightower
Mar 22, 2010 Tony Hightower rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, nyc
I probably should give this four stars instead of five -- it's as inconsistent as the subjects he writes about, it reads like it was slapped together by Greil Marcus in an afternoon (which it probably was), the feud with Lou Reed that occupies the middle third of the book is not nearly as interesting as the two principals would like to have thought, and for a compendium of his greatest work, it doesn't give an image of the man or even the man's career arc ferfucksake, but by god the best parts o ...more
May 03, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, 2012
The 1970′s are a graveyard where the previous 10 years of rock and roll’s youth went to die. I like graveyards: they’re creepy as hell, serving as momentarily honest reminders of our aesthetics while hiding every single one of our true thoughts about death. So before you beat me to death with an original pressing of London Calling for dissing so many great acts, let me deflect your attention. I think it is false to identify the 70′s as a separate area. From 1963 to 1980, i.e., from the beginning ...more
I picked up this book because I was told over a video Skype call that my moustache at the time looked like that of the author of this book's 'mo, and that my friends is the weirdest God-damn method of being introduced to a great writer. Every young man should discover great authors through the facial hair they are learning to style in their early twenties. It just seems natural.

I learned by reading this book that often, my taste in music was so different to Lester Bangs, having not been exposed
Aug 19, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it

So forged my way through the Stooges/Iggy hard on that comprised the opening quarter of the book. Boy am I glad I did. Bangs leaves no question as to what acts he is passionate about and while I don't always share his opinions I found the dichotomy of his prose (equal parts acerbic wit and dazed ramblings) thoroughly enjoyable. Bangs is no mere Music Critic. He opens the floodgates through his articles and shines a light on culture by not only focusing the lens on the artists but on himself as
May 24, 2016 Tlingit rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Captain Blowhard
No. I just say no.
I don't care that Philip Seymour Hoffman portrayed him in Almost Famous. I assumed that reading Bangs' reviews would be interesting if not amusing but I was so wrong. The tragedy is is that he did have something to say. The problem is that it's all couched in writer's diarrhea. I know that if I took the time to wade through some of his purple prose I would be able to glean out some interesting observations and connections. Doing that though would be the equivalent of diving in
Jul 21, 2012 Andy rated it it was amazing
Rock music is basically an adolescent medium; a person will never feel as strongly about any bit of culture for the rest of their life as they felt about the bands they loved when they were 17 years old. This must be true of rock writing, too, I guess -- or at least Lester Bangs' rock writing. I loved it when I was 17 more than that of any other writer, period, and it's impossible for me to go back and make a clear-eyed aesthetic assessment of it as a 32-year-old adult.

Bangs isn't for everyone.
Sep 12, 2012 Djll rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, nonfiction
I read some of this back in the day; this time I skipped around and skipped over some of the padding. Bangs tended to go off on wild contraband-influenced tangents of gonzo blahblah. At first I thought, "Geez, this is sure dated." But more reading lessened that impression. Probably the two most important essays are the long road-trip profile on The Clash and "The White Noise Supremacists," an impassioned, take-no-prisoners exposé on punk nihilism/racism. Bangs is important not because he's an im ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Peter marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, non-fiction
Reading books or articles about music for me mainly is a source of discovering more music & artists or learning more about artists I already know. As Lester Bangs is one of the propagators of the term 'punk' related to music, and punk rock is one of my favorite genres, this seemed like a good book to pick up.

The first few essays I liked it, although after a while the texts started to blend into each other. I sought out some of the described music (although, does Bangs ever really describe th
A. Razor
Jan 22, 2013 A. Razor rated it really liked it
This was a formative character for me as a kid, reading a lot of the Creem writings and also owning the single that the title of the book is taken from. His writing was inspiring and honest to a young cat like myself as I foraged for love in the 70's among the roller rink, music shows at the Swing auditorium and eventually the streets of Hollywood. Lester had a way of sounding different than other "critics" at the time and he eviscerated the AOR arena rock world with a language that I understood ...more
Sep 02, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
I have a short list of people, living or dead, that I would like to invite over for drinks and dinner, and some amazing conversation. This list partially includes Alfred Hitchcock, Thomas Jefferson, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend, Groucho Marx, Salvador Dali and Winston Churchill. I think I need to add Lester Bangs to this list. The collection of articles in this book is not for everyone, but for someone like me who loves rock and roll and loves reading about rock and roll, it’s brilliant. Bangs writ ...more
Jul 24, 2013 Bernard rated it it was amazing
Lester Bangs is pretty much my favourite music writer of all time. There is something incredibly vivid about the way he writes, which does the (almost) impossible feat of making words sound like the music they are describing.

Plus it is absolutely hilarious to read his more negative reviews, which are as merciless as they are hilarious.

There is scarcely a single sentence in this book I didn't find infinitely quotable, but this extract from the review of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music is one of
John Dizon
Sep 24, 2013 John Dizon rated it it was amazing
Written thirteen years after Bangs' anthology, Derogatis encapsulizes the legacy of one of those few writers whose life eventually transcends their work: Ginsberg, Hemingway and (ugh) Capote come to mind. According to Derogatis, Bangs was an ex-Jehovah's Witness who got excommunicated as a teen in California and relocated to NYC in the 60's. He hit lightning in a bottle by sending one of his rambling, quirky reviews to Rolling Stone, landing his first and foremost job as a journalist. After that ...more
Patrick Neylan
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: A Lester Bangs Reader: 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.

This book contains plenty of his quirkily brilliant music journalism - hence the thre
Neil Kernohan
Aug 26, 2014 Neil Kernohan rated it really liked it
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 from the streets. He confesses to writing one article for 12 straight hours and you can feel it in the ...more
Steve Porter
Jun 18, 2015 Steve Porter rated it liked it
Back in my late teens or early twenties, I remember hearing the name of American music journalist Lester Bangs bandied about a lot. I finally got round to reading this collection of his work.
There are some long rambling articles in which Bangs often digresses, as much to talk about himself and what he’s up to as music per se. In my opinion, some of the articles could do with some serious editing but perhaps he was regarded as too important for that in his time. It may have been partly due to th
Sep 23, 2016 Solistas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Πέρασα σχεδόν όλη τη χρονιά με αυτή τη συλλογή άρθρων/σκέψεων του διασημότερου κ πιο επιδραστικού μουσικογραφιά όλων των εποχών, όχι γιατί με κούραζε ή γιατί περίπου τα μισά κομμάτια της συλλογής τα είχα διαβάσει αποσμαματικά τις δύο τελευταίες δεκαετίες, αλλά γιατί εξαρχής το είχα ξεκινήσει ως επαναλαμβανόμενο διάλειμμα απ'την λογοτεχνία που είναι η κύρια ενασχόλησή μου τις βραδινές ώρες.

Ο Bangs ήταν ένας αρκετά διαβασμένος τύπος, με αδυναμία στους μπητνικς, ίσως γιατί μοιραζόταν μαζί τους τον
Rod Miller
Feb 11, 2016 Rod Miller rated it really liked it
Legendarily, Lester Bangs was the best rock critic ever. This book doesn't support that; the few actual reviews presented here are light-weight, and despite their length they boil down to little more than I liked it/I didn't like it. There is almost no criticism of the music, whether lyrically, melodically, instrumentation, or otherwise.
But there is a strong argument here for Bangs as a great rock writer. He wears his preferences on his sleeve, certainly, but that determines the playing field. H
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Lester Bangs 1 34 Jul 22, 2008 07:50PM  
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Leslie Conway Bangs was an American music journalist, author and musician. Most famous for his work at CREEM and Rolling Stone magazines, Bangs was and still is regarded as an extremely influential voice in rock criticism.
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“I suspect almost every day that I’m living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don’t like myself. What’s more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we’ve got and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes.” 38 likes
“Sometimes I think nothing is simple but the feeling of pain.” 13 likes
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