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Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  8,000 ratings  ·  275 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 rock critics, Greil Marcus. Advertising in Rolling Stone and other major publications.
Paperback, 391 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?

Community Reviews

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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,000 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Michael Finocchiaro
Lester Bangs was one of Rock-n-Roll's greatest chroniclers but I found this collection of writing a bit heavy and meandering. Probably good for hard core Bangs fans, I guess I just can't sign up for that club.
East Bay J
Feb 07, 2009 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
Benoit Lelièvre
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not my jam.

At all.

Not only this isn't what I expected at all, but this is barely criticism. These are long, chaotic tirades about drugs, the music industry and sometimes there is a cool story about a musician inserted in there like when Iggy Pop picked fights at his own show, but otherwise. This is very lean on interesting material. Bangs even brags about not saying whether or not Lou Reed's album Metal Machine Music is good in a 5,000 words column. It's frustrating to read. People shouldn't use
matt. singer.
Nov 03, 2007 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
Feb 07, 2010 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
Sep 23, 2016 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
Merry Mercurial
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had a great-aunt who once told me that rutabagas were something one either hated or loved, so when I finally tried rutabagas and found them just okay, I thought either there was something off with me or I was a special breed—able to feel neutrally about this thing men had come to blows over. In the years afterward, though, I would meet very few people who expressed a damn one way or another about rutabagas, leading me to conclude it was more a matter of my great-aunt hating or loving them and, ...more
Jul 20, 2012 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
Apr 19, 2018 added it
More importantly, it seems to me that there is a war on today which goes far beyond the-rest-of-society vs. punks; it's the war for the preservation of the heart against all those forces which conspire to murder it....
-Lester Bangs

Don't believe the hype. Lester Bangs wasn't a genius. He wasn't the best rock writer alive. He didn't always "speak the rhythms of rock 'n' roll". His writing is dated. His run-on sentences weren't original. His run on sentences were, irritating, manic, super hard to
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, own
Chances are if you’re considering a book of writings by Lester Bangs you came to him the same way I did: by way of your love of music — or maybe it was from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as him in “Almost Famous” — because writing about music is what he’s ostensibly known for. In fact, it’s almost exclusively what he did from his first published review in Rolling Stone in 1969 (about MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams”) until his death in 1982. I say "ostensibly" and "almost" because while editor G ...more
Kyle Barron-Cohen
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 24, 2008 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.)
Caitlin Constantine
Feb 24, 2009 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
Sep 12, 2012 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
Jul 16, 2013 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 14, 2009 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
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lester Bangs sta alla musica come Lenny Bruce alla satira....
Uno stronzo irriverente nei confronti del mainstream musicale ed è tutto quello che conta.
Mi piace tout court, pane al pane vino al vino.
Pensieri graffianti, aneddoti da capo giro, quando il rock era vita e non il contrario e Lester l'ha vissuto alla grande, da protagonista tra i protagonista, senza fare sconti a nessuno nemmeno a se stesso....
Lester ci manchi....anche tu Lenny!!!
Elias Carlston
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Occasional moments of sheer, transcendent brilliance, mixed with a lot of fun trash. Just like rock 'n' roll.
Brent Hayward
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Bangs came onto the scene in the 1970s as a writer and reviewer (latter term used somewhat loosely) when music was particularly bad, and had been for ages. Sitting in my suburban bedroom at the time, a younger man, listening to the radio, I was thinking just that. Not the bit about Bangs coming onto the scene, or the definition of review, though I did read every issue of Creem then, but about the cruddy state of music. A revolution was about unfold, which LB became an active part of (and me a in ...more
Maarten Wagemakers
Took my time with this one, as there was an awful lot to unpack here. It definitely takes some time to get attuned to his gonzo-ish - and sometimes downright experimental - writing style, but once you've caught up with his groove the book just gets better and better. Of course, like many others before me, I fell for the tall tales in his essay that the collection is named after, actually trying to look for other Count Five records even though I already knew the band and was pretty sure before th ...more
Owen Goldin
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
There aren't too many writers that could just let it rip, turning out pages and pages or free associating brilliance. Joyce could do it and so could Faulkner. Kerouac, sometimes. Lester Bangs could do it too, even if it is pretty clear that a lot of the best stuff is fueled by speed and cough medicine -- a mode or writing that wore Bangs' body down and eventually killed him. Anyway it is this aspect of Bangs, as writer, as poet, that Marcus focuses on in making this selection -- as opposed to Ba ...more
Robert S
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, music
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung is a particularly strange collection that was edited together and published. The editor admits from the on-set that most of Bangs popular pieces are not included here, leaving the reader to wonder what exactly they're in for in terms of reading.

This is actually my first time reading a collection of Bangs' work, having only previously read an article or two here plus seeing his character in Almost Famous played by the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
He is at times self-indulgent, borderline racist, vulgar, and obscene; at other times he is self-aware, sympathetic, empathetic, prescient, and insightful. This is my first encounter with legendary rock-critic Lester Bangs. Although it sometimes reads like Bukowski Lite, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung is nevertheless a fascinating look, via a selection of essays and excerpts, of one human being's search for meaning and relevance through the medium of rock 'n' roll. There are hints in th ...more
Keith Carpenter
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lester Bangs was certainly an entertaining, great writer and I love his gonzo style. That said, I don't always respect his musical opinions but I'll defend to the death his right to write lines like "The Beatles were four yobs, or three yobs plus a librarian named Paul." His laser sharp observations plus a savage sense of humor make even the criticisms I disagree with hysterical and insightful reading. If only Bangs had survived to the internet era, he would have had the single most entertaining ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parts to skim and parts to save and return to again and even share. Bits I was disturbed by he redeemed him by addressing later, and so it's good to see his evolution. Some really choice word pairings and phrases. Explains why he thinks a way about some subject, so even if you feel otherwise, you can still see where he's coming from..... a habit that is sorely absent in our modern world, much to the detriment of us all.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it

This is a volume that needs to be read in bursts. If you read too many of the articles in one sitting you end up feeling a bit dulled by the experience. As always, it's fun to read these critiques of pop culture from the time it was happening. These are first person, present-tense, explorations without any nostalgia. Some of them are boring, some are profound. Bangs was a mercurial dude and his writings reflect a mind that seems to process far too much information.
Rob Platts
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Moments of genius and pure rock n roll inspiration, but overall a pretty challenging read. He was clearly fighting many personal demons. Def worth reading for any big fans of Bowie, The Clash, Iggy Pop or Lou Reed who feature in some great pieces.
Mansfield Public
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Lester Bangs IS a legendary rock critic, and his work is worth is worth collecting to be read, but the book's editor does him an injustice by including so much material. Especially the stuff that Bangs himself had yet to deem worthy of being published.

O maldito é bom.

Tem uma escrita rock'n'roll que esconde um pouco o quanto ele lê e analisa bem os artistas, obras e contextos.

Pena que esse tipo de crítica musical tenha ficado no passado.
Pena que ele não tenha mais publicações no Brasil.
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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.
“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.” 47 likes
“The real question is what to live for. And I can't answer it. Except another one of your records. And another chance for me to write. Art for art's sake, corny as that sounds.” 18 likes
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