Sweet Sweet Rock and Roll|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in
Glamourous Rock and Roll of the past and Present's LiveJournal:
|Monday, April 23rd, 2007|
Everything Is an Afterthought
I recently sold my first book. In conjunction, I've established another LiveJournal to report on the project's progress, occasionally provide links about, and writings by, its subject, Paul Nelson
(famous for signing the New York Dolls to their first record label, as well as his Rolling Stone
reviews of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, the Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones -- to say nothing of his cover story about Warren Zevon's battle with alcoholism), and share snippets of information or parts of interviews that may or may not be covered further in the final product.
The new journal shares the book's working title, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson
. Just follow the link.
Anybody interested in learning more about this brilliant critic, whose own life proved just as mysterious and fascinating as the artists' about whom he wrote, is welcome to join. As well, tracking the process of how a book goes from sale to publication should prove interesting. I'm rather curious about that part myself...
|Wednesday, September 13th, 2006|
|Sunday, September 3rd, 2006|
The Dean Gets Expelled
Last Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of sitting down with Robert Christgau, the self-appointed Dean of American Rock Critics, in his East Village apartment. This was indeed a big thing for the kid here, considering that I've read Christgau's work, well, ever since I was
a kid. His Consumer Guide
to music has appeared in The Village Voice
since 1969 and has since been collected in three volumes of books that have long shared a space on my reference shelf alongside the first --
and best --
edition (the one edited by Jim Miller) of The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll
, Andrew Sarris's The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968
, Greil Marcus's books, and all of Pauline Kael's collections. As a teenager in Utah, so that I might stay on top of what Christgau (and Sarris) had to say, I subscribed to The Voice
Through the years, Christgau became part of the very pop culture he writes about. On 1972's live Take No Prisoners
album, Lou Reed wondered aloud from the stage: "What does Robert Christgau do in bed?" I'll forgo quoting where this line of thinking took him; suffice it to say that it culminated with Reed rhetorically asking, "Can you imagine working for a fucking year and you got a B+ from an asshole in The Village Voice
?" In his review
of the album, Christgau responded with his usual humor and aplomb by thanking Lou for pronouncing his name right. And he only gave the album a C+.
"I always admired Christgau's writing and wit and courage," singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy
wrote yesterday (before we even knew about Friday's goings-on at The Voice
), "and when he gave Aquashow
[Murphy's debut album] an A- it was the only grade I ever got that I was proud of."
All of which brings us back to Tuesday evening in the East Village. Christgau had kindly consented to an interview for a book I'm putting together about the critic Paul Nelson
. I didn't agree with everything that the Dean had to say, but what he said was never uninteresting. Such had been the tacit terms of our writer-reader relationship for over three decades (we should be so fortunate in all of our relationships). Earlier that day, he had even more kindly arranged for me to get into The Voice
's library, where I was able to glean invaluable material from 30- and 40-year-old bound volumes of the newspaper. I owe him big-time.
So it was with considerable shock last night to discover an article in The New York Times
that told, in part:
In a move that decimated the senior ranks of its arts staff, The Village Voice, the New York alternative weekly, yesterday dismissed eight people, including Robert Christgau, a senior editor and longtime pop music critic who had been at the paper on and off since 1969.
In a statement released yesterday, Village Voice Media described the layoffs as an effort “to reconfigure the editorial department to place an emphasis on writers as opposed to editors.” The company added, “Painful though they may be in the short term, these moves are consistent with long-range efforts to position The Voice as an integral journalistic force in New York City.”
The article went on to say:
Mr. Christgau, 64, who noted that he had forged the paper’s style of music criticism, with its “serious consideration of popular music at a critical level,” said in a phone interview that before he learned he had lost his job, he had begun organizing the paper’s Christmas consumer review. “I was really thinking about what I was going to do. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere,” he said. “I was doing my job.”
What befell Robert Christgau on Friday is not uncommon in everyday corporate America. I watched the same thing happen to people I'd worked with for years, as they fell victim to the ever advancing bottom line. Unlike Christgau, as it got closer I was able to make the decision, to paraphrase Keith Richards, to walk before they made me run.
I have no doubt Christgau will do just fine, that this, like many seemingly life-crushing changes, will turn out to be an opportunity in disguise, an unexpected detour taking him down a path he wouldn't otherwise have taken to a better destination than he could have imagined.
In the meantime, Christgau's website
remains available online and, in an act of sheer generosity and (deserved) egoism, reflects virtually everything that man's put into print. With his recent review
of the New York Dolls' latest album, his writing demonstrated the same thing that the resurrected Dolls did with their music: that rock & roll done right is ageless. Current Mood: exhausted
|Friday, July 28th, 2006|
Playing with Dolls
Current Mood: famished
In the early Seventies, the New York Dolls were the reigning rock & roll band in New York City, the darlings of David Bowie and the avant-garde intelligentsia, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith rolled into one, and America's principal purveyors of such newfound concepts as deliberate musical primitivism and the punk rock of futuristic, haute-couture street children. A cult band, they were passionately loved or hated, and more than a few critics (myself included) saw in them this country's best chance to develop a home-grown Rolling Stones. The Dolls were talented, and, more importantly, they had poisonality! Both of their albums made the charts, but a series of stormy misunderstandings among their record company, their management and themselves eventually extinguished the green light of hope, and the group disbanded... Like all good romantics, they had destroyed everything they touched.
-- Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone, May 18, 1978
The argument could be made that we have the Mormon Church to thank for One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the first studio album in 32 years by the New York Dolls. It may not be a particularly good argument, but all the components are there for a not even half-baked conspiracy theory:
As depicted in Greg Whiteley's fine documentary New York Doll, original Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane, who, following an an act of self-defenestration, had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was working in the church's Family History Center Library when he discovered that an almost 30-year dream, something he had prayed for again and again, was about to come true: the remaining Dolls (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) wanted to reunite. Not only are his Mormon coworkers and bishop supportive of their friend, whose life of drinking and drugs had gone out the window with him, they help fund the retrieval of his guitar from a local pawnshop so that he can start practicing for the reunion gig. Had they not and had Kane not rejoined the band, and had New York Doll never been made, you could argue that there would not have been the press and acclaim and subsequent momentum to get the Dolls back into the studio, back on the radio, back on TV, and back in the stores.
If New York Doll isn't the best piece of pro-LDS propaganda the Mormon Church has ever had at its behest, it's at least some damn funny and insightful off-the-cuff filmmaking. (Has ever a movie come into being so accidentally?) The movie's wacky elements and plot twists -- a faded, jealous rock star, his bitter wife, a quart of peppermint schnapps, a handy piece of cat furniture, an open kitchen window, and an unexpected demise -- tell a tale of decadence and redemption worthy of Raymond Chandler.
But in the midst of all this craziness there beats a heart, and it's a sweet one. Such as when Kane, "the only living statue in rock & roll" and, in Johansen's words, "the miracle of God's creation," leads the group in prayer before they take the stage for the first time in almost 30 years. Or earlier, back at the library, when Kane explains the responsibilities of being a rock & roll bassist to the two little old ladies with whom he works. Or when he confesses to his Mormon bishop his apprehensions about getting back together with Johansen (who, when he finally arrives in the studio, looks like a haggard Allison Janney).
Which brings us to the Dolls' third album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, which arrived in stores on Tuesday and which, like Bettie Page adorned in leather, is hard and soft at the same time. Lots of ricocheting guitar lines and anthemic pounding housed within four Phil Spectorish walls of sound; middle-aged men acting tough, vamping and posturing while sounding melodic as all hell. A reminder of how rock & roll ought to be. How it used to be.
Combining clever wordplay ("Evolution is so obsolete/Stomp your hands and clap your feet," from the pro-simian/anti-creationist single, "Dance Like a Monkey") and wordy cleverness ("Ain't gonna anthropomorphize ya/Or perversely polymorphousize ya"), Johansen, whose vocalizing and songwriting have both aged magnificently, proves that, despite his Buster Poindexter detour, he remains one of rock's savviest practitioners. He leads the Dolls through a variety of subjects and styles while spewing his trash poetry lyrics ("All light shines in darkness/Where else could it shine?") with his heart on his sleeve and his tongue firmly in cheek -- often at the same time:
Yeah, I've been to the doctor
He said there ain't much he could do
"You've got the human condition
Boy, I feel sorry for you"
Funny is one thing, smart is another; but funny and smart at the same time, that's tough. Ask Woody Allen.
Listening to the new album, I couldn't help but think of critic Paul Nelson, whose words opened this piece and who, back in the early Seventies, was the A&R guy who put his job with Mercury Records on the line when he signed the Dolls to their first record deal ("I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job, and I did"). What would Nelson, whose body was found alone in his New York apartment earlier this month, have made of the Dolls' new effort and return to the spotlight? And would he have seen anything of himself in the song "I Ain't Got Nothing"?
This is not how the end should have come
Who could imagine this when I was young?
Where is everybody?
It's not the way I wanted it to be
With One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dolls pick up right where they left off over 30 years ago, as if no time at all has passed. Which begs the question (especially with all the dancing like a monkey going on): shouldn't there have been some kind of evolution musically? If the Dolls remain just as smart and funny as before, and rock just as hard -- if just plain surviving isn't enough -- what have they gained?
We all should be so lucky.
|Saturday, March 5th, 2005|
|Sunday, January 16th, 2005|
|Monday, November 22nd, 2004|
Possibly the glam-est toddler in the world...
This morning a co-worker of mine told me how over the weekend, she busted her 3 year old daughter singing T.Rex's "Lady" to herself in the mirror. Oh what the future must hold for this little girl...
|Wednesday, October 20th, 2004|
Hi ^_^ I'm Kassie
I love hair metal and glam...It's what i grew up listening to. I was so happy when i found this community ^_^ My favorite glam bands are New York Dolls (If you couldn't already tell by my screen name, haha), David Bowie, Candy, T. Rex & Haysi Fantayzee... Current Mood: artistic
|Saturday, September 11th, 2004|
Suzi Quatro is still pretty hot!!! www.suziquatro.com
Current Mood: surprised
|Saturday, August 14th, 2004|
I have been going through a huge dilemma lately. I wanted a place to discuss rock. So this is what I came up with. Even though this is technically a Glam rock forum. Discussion of all types of Glam and its offsping will be tolerated.