Lester Leaps In. Again

Lester Bangs

I’ve been rereading Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, an anthology of reviews by Lester Bangs (Edited by Greil Marcus, Anchor Books, 2003) and came across this familiar masterpiece that anybody who cares about recorded music will relate to. For me, Bangs’ reviews in Creem were holy writ.  If you care about rock or writing you need to read him. Before the days of e-mail or blogs, I used to share this passage with  fellow vinyl junkies, they all understood. CD collectors will understand too.

“The real story is  rushing home to hear the apocalypse erupt, falling through the front door and slashing open the plastic sealing “for your protection,” taking the record out—ah, lookit them grooves, all jet black without a smudge yet, shiny and new so fucking pristine, then the color of the label, does it glow with auras that’ll make subtle comment on the sounds coming out, or is it just a flat utilitarian monochromatic surface, lie a schoolhouse wall (like RCA’s and Capitol’s after some fool revamped ‘em—an example of real artistic backwardness)? And finally you get to put the record on the turntable, it spins in limbo a perfect second, followed by the moment of truth, needle in groove, and finally sound.”

He  the speaks about the milestone  albums that “fried” his brain, “… the experience of the first few listening to record so total, so mind-twisting, that you authentically can say you’ll never be quite the same again. Black Saint and the Sinner Lady did that, and a very few others. They’re events you remember all your life, like your first real orgasm. And the whole purpose of this absurd, mechanically persistent involvement with recorded music is the pursuit of that priceless moment. So it’s not exactly that records might unhinge the mind, but rather that if anything is going to drive you up the wall it might as well be a record. Because the best music is strong and guides and cleanses and is life itself.

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
Lester Bangs

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2 Responses to “Lester Leaps In. Again”

  1. Despite prodding and chatisement from close friends to rid myself of my 1000+ cds and 200+ vinyl records, and the slope of trends to store all music digitally, I still get excitement from purchasing a record or cd from a store, tearing off the plastic and playing it for the first time. In New York space is limited, but I’d rather cram the one free wall I have with towers of music than stylishly adorned with a Jonathan Adler ceramic duck.

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