The Washington Post


By Jennifer Howard


Rob in High Fidelity thinks his problem is that he listens to too much pop music. Don't blame it on testosterone; blame it on rock and roll. Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic, by Jim DeRogatis (Broadway, $ 15.95), recreates a truly rock-fueled rise and fall: that of Lester Bangs (1949-82), who burned up the pages of Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and Creem in the '60s and '70s before burning out at the age of 33.

DeRogatis, pop-music pundit at the Chicago Sun-Times, won't let Bangs fade away. "Lester was the great gonzo journalist, gutter poet, and romantic visionary of rock writing--its Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac all rolled into one. Out of tune with the peace 'n' love ethos of the sixties and the Me Generation navel-gazing of the seventies, he agitated for sounds that were harsher, louder, more electric, and more alive"--especially the wall-beating, head-banging sounds of heavy metal and punk. "Where others idealized the rock 'n' roll lifestyle or presented a distant academic version of it, he lived it, reveling in its excesses, drawing energy from its din, and matching its passion in prose. . . " Yes, in this book you'll see Bangs hit rock bottom.

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