Thursday, April 16, 2009

Edifying the Musically Inquisitive?

I've been reading two music books in tandem, one newish and one not-so newish, each guaranteed a decent shelf life.

Rock Star Babylon, by Jon Holmes, runs the gamut "from the rude to the ridiculous" with "reports of rock-and-rollers at their worst ... straight from the mouths of those who were there--or those who were there but left early and heard about it afterward."

One story insists Marvin Gaye made an intentionally bad album to ensure that his ex-wife, entitled to royalties from that record, would profit next-to nothing.

Another tale suggests that Pete Doherty is, in his totality, a hoax perpetrated by former members of the KLF.

Jerry Lee Lewis also makes an appearance (at Elvis Presley's home):
Out of his mind on a cocktail of drugs ... Lewis rocked up to the gates of Graceland and, rather than politely knock and announce his arrival, instead began to ram said gates with his massive car while a loaded derringer rattled about on the dashboard ... bellowing at the sky started: "Tell Elvis the Killer is here!" he yelled over and over and over and over again ...

Security simply called the police, who arrested him and took him away in handcuffs. It was politely explained to Mr. Lewis that Mr. Presley saw no one at 3 a.m. unless that someone was delivering prescription drugs and/or three or four skipfuls of Nutella ... The day after the Graceland incident, Jerry Lee went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a peptic ulcer. At the time of writing he is still alive. Elvis, depending on who you talk to, isn't.
On the more erudite (but no less snarky) side, David Kamp and Steven Daly created The Rock Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge.

The book was conceived "to enable non-Snobs to hold their own" when confronted by Snobs. It helps explain "ultra-knowing references in the music press to 'Stax-y horns,' 'chiming, plangent Rickenbackers,' and 'Eno.'"

A sample:
Electroclash. Assaultive, hokey club-music trendlet with wishfully grandiose name. Posited as the music of the twenty-second century by warehouse-club folk and newspaper style sections, Electroclash, as practiced by New York City standard-bearers Fischerspooner and A.R.E. Weapons, amounts to little more than eighties-style synth-and-beat-box music played in art galleries while its practitioners stage street-theater "happenings" that owe more to mime and Xena, Warrior Princess than Velvets subversiveness or Warholian spark.
Ouch! But may I have another, Sir?

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