Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lester Bangs On About Glam Rock

"...and he doesn't care about rock 'n' roll at all..."

"The ascendence of the people is an indication of the level to which rock has sunk. It's appearance and artifice. There's nothing, I believe, truly committed about either a Bryan Ferry or a David Bowie. It's much more using of rock for their own ego-aggrandisement rather than a belief in the music they are working with."

That was Lester Bangs on the Glam Rock programme in the series All You Need Is Love.

This is the first criticism of artists in the whole series. This is the present day mid seventies. We are waiting for a new musical form to blow the old status quo out of the water. We are waiting for Whatever You Want.

Lester met Ferry at a party. Ferry had little to say to Lester. Lester took this as intellectual poverty, a great disappointment to hear nothing passionate and real from a man Lester had held up as a musical hero after the release of Roxy Music's first album.

So Bowie and Ferry are not great speakers. So what? They're entertainers, Lester. You wouldn't expect Liberace to talk about how much he "believes" in his music. He's in it to show off, to be loved, to be desired by a gaggle of old women!

The same programme showed Gary Glitter, giving his all to an audience of young girls. And they were loving it! There he was, his great hairy gut pushing for freedom from his tight jumpsuit, his nipples red and raw from the friction. And the silly moos were crying "Gary! Gary!", tears of love rolling down their chubby cheeks. Bloody hell, I wonder how those women feel if they see themselves now!

I said to Betty, "Was Adam Ant influenced by Glitter? The two drums and all?" We agreed he must have been. Even going so far as having a Gary in his band, the estimable Mr Tibbs.

Lester was spitting at the times. He's funny and entertaining to watch. But railing so at the seventies it makes you wonder what on earth would he have thought of the soulless mid eighties if he'd survived that long? He was listening to Human League's Dare at the time of his drug-induced death. That's a classic album but Lester probably hated it with its uncommitted synth pop and the LP's cover picture of the completely vacuous, artifical singer in in girls' make up.



  1. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Nah, Lester would have loved the League. Didn't he put in a good word for Abba too?

    I have a book of his writings. I was inspired to buy it by the Lou Reed quote on it: "Lester Bangs is fat and has a moustache. I wouldn't shit in his nose". Now that's a recommendation.

  2. Anonymous8:24 PM

    I agree with Lester - never could see the appeal of Bowie or Roxy for that matter, though I've rarely met anyone who agrees with me.

    That Lou Reed live album, he actually says, "Somebody kill those f*cking journalists" at one point. Which you wonder what would happen if, say, Russell Brand said something like that.

  3. Ha! You're one episode ahead of me - I just watched the splendidly named 'Sour Rock'. I think that's going to be my answer if I ever get asked 'what kind of music do you like?' again.

  4. I believe Mike Leander did make some sniffy comments in the early 80s about how Adam had stolen the whole double drumming thing from the G Band.

    But then Ornette Coleman had two drummers in the early 60s. Do we think Gary was into a bit of atonal free jazz when he wasn't paeding?

  5. *polkas in and out of the room*

  6. Like telepathy, I'm only up to 'Sour rock', but glad to see others have been watching this remarkable piece of Telly history. Highlight so far has to be Jerry Lee Lewis, brilliantly shot with the camera nearest his treble hand as it alternately strokes, teases, pounds and punches the keys; the rest of him receding into the middle distance, a quivering, lascivious jello.

    I remember the Zappa interview from when I originally watched the show in 1975 - scared the shit out of me back then. I could listen to Jagger for hours though. Have you noticed how he has a very adenoidal, almost mongy, nasal quality to his speaking voice - the result of having bitten a piece of his tongue off during a childhood sporting accident. Keen crickerer, apparently.

    "Awright na!"

    p.s. Mike Leander did the string arrangement for 'She's Leaving Home'.

    p.p.s. wroc varsififificatron: sturov

    Balding Bulgarian schemer?

  7. I'm an Adam Ant expert as I've read the book.
    He based his sound on African drumming rhythms and sounds which he researched. I don't think he went to Africa though.

  8. Billy - There was enough shit up his nose already. I'll have to dust down Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and actually read it this time.

    Bob - I don't agree with you! Amy Winehouse should say it, if she could get the words out.

    Telepathy - You couldn't get much more sour than Lester. He's on the last programme, too. We missed the mostly naked dancing lady, though. I thought she was going to be in every episode.

    Tim - Gary's knowledge of the history of popular music is second to none. Why on earth did they not interview him?

    MJ - I'd like to see you polka to glam rock.

    Bob - Jerry Lee used the whole of the piano. I'd like to see Jools Holland shaking it like that. I don't know anybody from the Dartford area who speaks like Jagger or Richards. Tony Adams does speak like Bill Wyman, though.

    Kaz - I trust my theory more. I've got the Ant book upstairs thanks to your recommendation and will get around to it eventually.

  9. Did Showaddywaddy have two drummers as well?

  10. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Claps hands to accompany MJ's polka.

  11. Scarlet - Welcome. They could have done with a lot more to drown out that awful racket the singers made.

    Arabella - Hold on. This is a fun-free zone.

  12. Hey everybody!

    Let’s Bohemian Polka!

  13. Sometimes North American culture confuses me.

  14. I thought Showaddywaddy had a regular drummer and a tympanist. if we're going down that route, though, T Rex (drums & conga) would count. As, I suppose, would the bug-eyed maraca action that Bez brought to the Mondays.

  15. I'd like to welcom Scarlet to, if that's OK...



    p.s. I was surprised at how relatively presentable Bill 'Perks of the Profession' Wyman looked - *almost* would...

    p.p.s. crud wonkifiction: cowerlyg


  16. Tim - Didn't Genesis have two drummers at times onstage?

    Bob - It's always the quiet ones who are the most attractive.