18 February 2012
416 pages, Anchor (September 12, 1988)
"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" was a 1971 essay by "Lester Bangs", later collected in this book of the same name. The essay, which talks about what would usually today be called "Garage Rock", contains the phrase, "...Punk bands started cropping up who were writing their own songs but taking The Yardbirds' sound". This is believed one of the first uses of the word "Punk" to refer to a type of Rock music. A large section of the essay is concerned with the imagined long career of the Garage band "The Count Five", after their hit "Psychotic Reaction", In fact, the band split after one album, and their other records are entirely a product of Bangs' imagination.
Until his death in 1982 at age 34, Bangs wrote freewheeling Rock 'n' roll pieces for Creem, Rolling Stone, the "Village Voice" and London's NME (New Musical Express). As a Rock critic, he was adept at distinguishing the commercially packaged product from the real thing. Written in a conversational, wisecracking, erotically charged style, his impudent reviews and essays explore the connections between Rock and the body politic, the way Rock stars cow their audiences and how the pursuit of success and artistic vision destroys or makes Rock performers as human beings. This collection (which includes no Rolling Stone pieces) covers "fake moneybags revolutionary" "Mick Jagger", "John Lennon" ("I can't mourn him"), "David Bowie" "in Afro-Anglican drag", "Iggy Pop", "The Troggs", "Lou Reed", "Van Morrison", Chicago, "The Clash", many more. Recommended.