Sunday, March 30, 2008

Critics of Rock Classics Unite ! Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics (Barricade Books)


Just came across this book released in 2004 Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics which collates 34 essays by contemporary rock writers, each writes about a classic album: "Tommy" by the Who, " Led Zeppelin IV," "Exile on Main Street" by the Rolling Stones," "The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, arguing why it SHOUL'NT be a classic, ie: why it's crap

Here's an excerpt from the piece on Sgt Peppers;

'For nigh on 39 years now, I have been hearing about that crazy-quilt mosaic of social, political and cultural upheaval called the '60s, which, as we all know from history class, our parents and VH1, was the time of Beatlemania, Bob Dylan, long hair, LSD, Tim Leary, Ken Kesey, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Andy Warhol, Ho Chi Minh, free love, riots in the streets, hell, no (we won't go), tune in, turn on, freak out and by the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong.

Sounds like a hell of a party, but I wasn't there, and what's more, I refuse to feel sorry about missing it, because I have here the album generally considered the Numero Uno soundtrack of the time -- yep, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" -- and you know what? It sucks dogs royally.

'The Beatles have just given us 39 minutes and 52 seconds of rather unremarkable, uninspired music with a central theme that's conservative, reactionary and retrogressive. To wit: Embrace the past (it wasn't so bad) and celebrate the values of your parents and grandparents. Contrast this with some of the truly great albums of the same period, works that offer a glimpse of a brave new world, and which still sound fresh and inviting today.

"The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators," "The Velvet Underground and Nico," "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" by Pink Floyd, "Are You Experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix, "Pet Sounds," "Fifth Dimension" by the Byrds and "Forever Changes" by Love are all stronger, less contrived, more inventive and more moving albums than "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." They all rock harder, too. To say that they don't bring back the period the same way as the Beatles' alleged masterpiece is irrelevant.

Great art stands on its own even if it's removed from the specific context of when and how it was made. The good old days? Good riddance.'

Here's an excerpt from the one on the 'pronouced' album by Lynyrd Skynyrd

"Free Bird." Where to begin? A bombastic and maudlin display of guitar excess. "A perfect example of technopastoral counterculture transcendence," blathered '70s rock critic Robert Christgau, whatever the hell that means. I say the song is just too long for the 21st century. Maybe it's time to pare "Free Bird" down to a more modern three minutes, deconstruct it into its essentials: Guy scared of commitment goes away; guitar solo.

"Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" is an album of backwards-looking music that was more reactionary than innovative. On it, Skynyrd pretends the '60s and the civil rights and women's movements never happened. In Skynyrd's fantasy, the world was still a paradise for manly white men with manly ways. Throw in all that Confederate flag waving and you have a band that is retro to the point of retrograde.

"Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" sold a myth of white Southerners as noble rustics to a nation weary of the '60s and ready for the false comfort of a bucolic fairytale. It's an image we reconstructed children of the South wear like an albatross, or a wife-beater with a Skynyrd logo on it.'

Let us know what you think; insightful critisism or young persons folly ?

Image: Courtesy Parlophone

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