Thursday, July 05, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! THE AGE OF ROCK 2, EDITED BY JONATHAN EISEN (Vintage Books, 1970)

Given that I ain't set my paws on this 'un since 1980 at the latest I thought it might be time to give this collection of then-pertinent rock writing deemed worthy enough of being reprinted in a collection another go at it. After all, Jonathan Eisen did such a good job with his TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS AND FOREVER CHANGES gatherin' of hotcha rock scribing, and since I've practically forgotten about this particular title I was sure this was gonna be a top notch collection containing everything that was right about "The Golden Age of Rock Criticism" or whatever Eddie Flowers once called that period when rock was feh, but the writing was sure prime cut. And man, if there's anything I could use here in the dark dank late teens it's HIGH ENERGY ROCK AND ROLL SCREED.

Unfortunately THE AGE OF ROCK 2 fails on a few counts. But the thing's still plenty readable and in fact has made for more of that fine Sunday afternoon and weeknight pre-beddy-bye time reading that I sure crave, so maybe it's for that I'll give this sampler a hefty rah even with the usual paens to Woodstock Nation (yawn!) and other vermin that have continually ruined and eradicated any sense of rock music as the total destroyer of jive (teenage and otherwise) off the face of this earth.

There are plenty of rockist plateaus to be found. David Walley from JAZZ AND POP's interview with the MC5 was quite nice, not as good as the one John Sinclair did with Rob Tyner in some old FIFTH ESTATE where the subjects of Joseph Jarman and just how influential the Five were in the area long before the appearance of KICK OUT THE JAMS were bandied about, but still good enough what with the band trying to come off as real down to earth guys transcending their revolutionary image that eventually bogged their entire career down. The Danny Fields interview from SCREW of all places was even better, with Fields giving us alla that behind-the-behind the scenes info on his role at Electra and other aspects of the biz which made him one of the very few FANS who could get away with a whole lot more than any of us would've ever thought! And who could resist reading a cutting (if accurate enough) putdown of the communist surge in pop music taken from a John Birch Society magazine (which, along with a few other pieces, was uncredited leading me to believe that a lotta the material here was reprinted w/o permission) followed by a Soviet assessment of the Beatles as consumerist flotsam!

That's not even counting the contributions from the big guns like Richard Meltzer (mostly old CRAWDADDY pieces but a few newer items such as his overall appreciation of the English heavies) and Sandy Pearlman's "Saucers Land in Virginia" which was yet another of those things that made the original CRAWDADDY so hotcha even in the face of Jefferson Airplane worship. There's even more smart talk from the likes of Robert Somma and Lenny Kaye's "The Best of Accapella" which is the thing that got Patti Smith all revved up about him in the first place.

However, even these higher echelon rock pieces aren't enough to make ya wanna puke at alla that hippie swill that, admittedly, was even more part and parcel to the "rock experience" than the high energy crowd would care to remember. Unfortunately, they're here to remind us all of just what a stinking cesspool of music and "culture" the late-sixties coulda been.

I dunno about you, but I never consider Jon Wiener one of the better rockscribes of that era (or after) and his Woodstock as a capitalist ploy article doesn't come off as the usual paen to hippie purity but of hippies once again being duped by the man. Now I don't care about Love Peace and (usually dried up) Music as much as you, but attacking it from a socialist standpoint ain't exactly anything I'd call beneficial to the punk way of thinking. Michael Lydon's "Rock For Sale" tackles the commercialization of rock even further as if it's such a big crime, perhaps forgetting alla those great Coke and Great Shakes commercials that were popping up only a few years earlier. But hey, Lydon was talking about "hip" rock all along and you know what that means...

Even some of the entries that I thought I would like tended to fall flat, such as Bobby Abrams' (a writer who showed much talent and could have developed into a Bangs or Meltzer had he only stuck around longer) piece on the Stones and even Ian Whitcomb on the British "rocker" movement. And not-so-oddly enough, one Howard Junker contributed a look-back-see regarding the fifties that I'll bet helped kick off that whole AMERICAN GRAFFITI/HAPPY DAYS seventies trip that had the youth of the day digging all of the WORST aspects of old rock 'n roll and none of the harsh, primitive ideals people like myself still love about those now-loathed times. Gee, thanks for influencing every tee-vee variety show and dingbat high school teacher I had, Howard!

Your cherce. You probably have read the good stuff before and if so you don't need this. If you never got to see the earlier, more "journalistic" serious rock writing of the  late-sixties well, just be sure that you read this one carefully. It sure is great going over everything that was GOOD about the post-garage band/pre-punkist portion of the twentieth century, but man do those hippoid reminiscences sure bring everything down to a level of...the same mindless stick-it-to-the-man who is more or less SUPPORTING you anyway (I mean, ain't George Soros and Warren Buffet every much as part of the revolution as the pampered beyond believe upper class protest kids?) rabble rousing that has come back in style with a vengeance these sad 'n sorry time!

1 comment:

J. D. King said...

Sheesh. What's worse: rock music or rock crits? Buncha malodorous malcontents. Fire up the helicopters, shove those old hippies on board, take 'em for a nice little ride. Then, the Pinochet plunge.