Thursday, December 19, 2019

Lester Bangs Top 10 Albums of 1979

Lester Bangs : Let It Blurt

In 1979 rock critic Lester Bangs released a single he recorded in 1977 with Jay Dee Daugherty of the Patti Smith Group, Robert Quine of Richard Hell and the Voidoids and two members of the Contortions. It's too derivative of the Richard Hell sound for me to take too seriously.

Here are his Top 10 albums of 1979 according to a list he made for the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll. It's odd to see Wavelength top his list because his Rolling Stone review for the Van Morrison album was hardly a rave :

Wavelength is a very nice record. I’m sure all the people at Warner Bros. are pleased with it. Ditto the DJs. It probably would also be really groovy for somebody’s idea of a wine-and-joints, Renaissance-fair garden party. It makes a lovely sound, breaks no rules and keeps its grimy snout (or, rather, that of its maker) out of the dark places that mainstreams step correctly over. Rigid. The singer has a nifty little band here, what with Bobby Tench, Peter Bardens from the original Them and even great googamoogah Garth Hudson sittin’ in on various instruments. Well, take me back to Orpheus!

Van Morrison: Into the Music (Warner Bros.) 25; 
Marianne Faithfull: Broken English (Island) 20;
 The Clash (Epic) 20;
 Talking Heads: Fear of Music (Sire) 5;

"The closer you get to whatever it is you’re terrified of, the more it and the dread of it begin to seem like old friends, ergo you become progressively less terrified. As a second Dark Ages seems to loom over us, David Byrne strolls right down its maw, placid and bemused, humming little tunes to himself. Sometimes I think Fear of Music is one of the best comedy albums I’ve ever heard. Which doesn’t mean he makes you forget the fear is real. He just reminds you that it’s something you’re going to have to live with, so you might as well get a kick out of it while you can."

 Lou Reed: The Bells (Arista) 5;

Lou Reed is a prick and a jerkoff who regularly commits the ultimate sin of treating his audience with contempt. He’s also a person with deep compassion for a great many other people about whom almost nobody else gives a shit. I won’t say who they are, because I don’t want to get too schmaltzy, except to emphasize that there’s always been more to this than drugs and fashionable kinks, and to point out that suffering, loneliness and psychic/spiritual exile are great levelers. The Bells isn’t merely Lou Reed’s best solo LP, it’s great art.

 Neil Young + Crazy Horse: Live Rust (Warner Bros.) 5;
 Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (Atlantic) 5; 

Miles Davis: Circle in the Round (Columbia) 5;
 Heartbreakers: Live at Max's Kansas City (Max's Kansas City) 5;
 Patti Smith Group: Wave (Arista) 5.

Sez one fan:
 My one enduring memory of (Lester Bangs) is from a New York Rocker Christmas party (1979) that took place in some squat on the lower, lower east side. I heard PIL's Metal Box blasting from one of the rooms, and there was Lester, doing some insane bat dance to the music. Everyone was just watching as he spun around with whatever girlfriend he was with at the time. I mean, how in the hell do you dance to a song like "Poptones"?

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