Tuesday, April 16, 2002

BANGS AND CRASHES: The Guardian Review chose this weekend to get Nick Kent to run a piece in praise of Lester Bangs, which, of course, found room to lament that there ain't nobody nowadays doing it like Bangs did. Which is undeniable, of course, but also as much Bang's fault as it is anyone elses. Bangs was the Beatles of music journalism, working without a template, literally often making it up as he went along. And along he went. He had excesses, he had talent, he also had a lot of crap published under his byline. Just like John Paul George and Ringo. And, like the "Fab" Four, the industry he worked for saw what he did, and saw that some of it was more popular than other bits, and calculated you get get someone to do the good stuff, and not do the rubbish, and for less trouble, too. Bangs could get away with what he did because there wasn't a grid in place, but he surely spun the web out behind him that has strangled rock writers ever since. His extremes made the people in the magazine offices which had adding machines rather than typewriters on the desks see how much was "too much", and to fight shy of any sign of individualism, lest it led to a lot more unfilled space and unexpected expenses. He was the alpha and the omega; the start of something, but also its downfall. The fear of Bangs finally won out when NME pulled its Censorship issue at the instruction of IPC, and set about turning the title into the Consume With Mother it is today. It's all very well for Nick Cave to lament that nobody can write like Bangs today - they can, there's hundreds of great music writers out there. It's just that after Bangs, none of them can get fucking published anywhere.

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