Frank Kogan's forthcoming "Real Punks Don't Wear Black"

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Publication is months away, but let's anticipate. The publisher's description:

Between middle school and the ivory tower lies the truth about pop music


This book samples thirty-plus years of rock critic Frank Kogan’s commentary on music and culture: the Ying Yang Twins, The New York Dolls, Mariah Carey, Public Enemy. Disco, hip-hop, Europop, metal. Arguments, stammers, soliloquies, puns.

Kogan is a crucial figure among music critics for his contentious, perceptive writings that appear in the Village Voice and underground music publications. If you’re after no more than backstage dish or a judgment on whether some song is “good” or “bad,” then look elsewhere. Kogan makes you ask questions: Our popular music is born in flight, chased in fear, and ever headed toward unattainable glory, he says. Why is this so? What fears, contagions, divisions are we ignoring that our music cannot?

Kogan doesn’t wait around for answers; he goes after them like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours. Picture no-nonsense Kogan forced to work with smart-aleck Kogan. They tear around suburbia, sniping at each other, speakers booming away, while you bounce around
in the backseat.

Remember, says Kogan, this is about you, too. Keep your mind alive, your hairstyle in flux, and your tongue sharpened. Whether you’re a gutterpunk or a cultstud geek, you’re a bigger part of the story than you may realize. It’s your song that gets sung, your sound to create.


Frank Kogan is the publisher and editor of the fanzine Why Music Sucks. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, Spin, Radio On, Cometbus, and ilXor.com.


February 2006
6 x 9 in.
4 figures

ISBN 0-8203-2753-0 cloth
$59.95

ISBN 0-8203-2754-9 paper
$24.95

Derek Krissoff (Derek), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:11 (fifteen years ago) link

He sounds like a prick.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:13 (fifteen years ago) link

Kogan doesn’t wait around for answers; he goes after them like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours

Good lord that's the fuckin' weakest pitch I've ever read. That's like saying he "rocks harder than Loverboy" or "exudes the wanton sex appeal of Natalie Merchant".

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:15 (fifteen years ago) link

underground music publications = commuter tabloids?

Huk-L, Monday, 6 June 2005 18:15 (fifteen years ago) link

Cometbus, eh?

Weird.

Ian John50n (orion), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:15 (fifteen years ago) link

You got a problem with Loverboy, Alex?
You wanna say that to Mike Reno's face?
http://www.achicknamedmarzi.com/chickpix/mikereno.jpg

Huk-L, Monday, 6 June 2005 18:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Natalie Merchant ... she's got some big ass titties

The Sensational Sulk (sexyDancer), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:19 (fifteen years ago) link

I've always really enjoyed Frank's occaissional postings on ILM, I'd be excited to read this.

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:24 (fifteen years ago) link

Mike Reno yesterday...

http://www.midwestbeat.com/concert%20reviews/september_2003/loverboy/reno1_web.jpg

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Kind of expensive - is this out on some small independent press?

o. nate (onate), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:26 (fifteen years ago) link

University of Georgia. Seems like a reasonable price for a paperback original. And it's a long book.

Derek Krissoff (Derek), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:28 (fifteen years ago) link

Is that the same publisher that put out Paul Morley's "Words and Music"? I paid about the same price for that one.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:31 (fifteen years ago) link

Yup. Georgia Press is into the pop books in a fairly serious way now.

Derek Krissoff (Derek), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:32 (fifteen years ago) link

*makes mental note*

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:35 (fifteen years ago) link

25 bucks for paper? Interlibrary Looooooaaaanin' that! ASAP too.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:39 (fifteen years ago) link

What, you don't support education? Terrorist.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:39 (fifteen years ago) link

His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, Spin, Radio On, Cometbus, and ilXor.com.

omg so everybody's WORK is appearing here? wtf hee hee

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:40 (fifteen years ago) link

Dude, ILX is in a Da Capo book! Look alive, and clean up that fucking syntax, bitch!

David R. (popshots75`), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:42 (fifteen years ago) link

omg now I'm REALLY self-conscious about my typotude.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:42 (fifteen years ago) link

i thought this press release was a put-on!

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 6 June 2005 18:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Kogan doesn’t wait around for answers; he goes after them like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours. Picture no-nonsense Kogan forced to work with smart-aleck Kogan. They tear around suburbia, sniping at each other, speakers booming away, while you bounce around
in the backseat.

This whole pitch has me cracking up. Is he schizo? What if I don't want to go in the car with him.

Did a pitchforker write this press release?

jockey, Monday, 6 June 2005 19:01 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm not shocked if some lowlevel publishing employee didn't have a good idea of how to hawk Kogan to rockbook buyers.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:03 (fifteen years ago) link

I like Kogan too, but that description has me laughing...

jockey, Monday, 6 June 2005 19:04 (fifteen years ago) link

the "keep your hairstyle in flux" is kind of ironic

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Question to ponder:
Are you a gutterpunk or a cultstud geek?

Maybe it needs its own thread?

jockey, Monday, 6 June 2005 19:06 (fifteen years ago) link

you know, fuck ILL, I'll probably buy this the second its out.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:08 (fifteen years ago) link

omg so everybody's WORK is appearing here? wtf hee hee

decidedly not but kogan's sure as hell is - have you read his longer posts here?

jones (actual), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:08 (fifteen years ago) link

so when does a post on an internet board become your work. Two paragraphs? three? What if it rhymes, can you say your poetry is being published here? Say yes.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:10 (fifteen years ago) link

1. it contains ideas

jones (actual), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:13 (fifteen years ago) link

haha right.

I gotta say, I can't think of a music book I'm more excited for since whenever. A compilation of his stuff is long overdue.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Even when I say nothing it's a beautiful use of negative space.

deej., Monday, 6 June 2005 19:14 (fifteen years ago) link

This post is my work.

David R. (popshots75`), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:15 (fifteen years ago) link

if i'm jerkin i'm workin

j blount (papa la bas), Monday, 6 June 2005 19:47 (fifteen years ago) link

I've read it. And for whatever this is worth, it's one of the best books ever written about rock music.

xhuxk, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, I'm really excited about this but that copy is terrible.

C0L1N B... (C0L1N B...), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Why is everyone making such a big deal about PR copy being lame? It's lame for everything....

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:24 (fifteen years ago) link

this is unusually bad, though; it makes the book sound utterly ridiculous. like an april fool's prank.

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:29 (fifteen years ago) link

I think it's supposed to be funny -- and it is.

Mark (MarkR), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:34 (fifteen years ago) link

but it's like an in-joke! no one [not on ilm] is going to want to actually buy this book on the basis of that copy!

on the other hand, by academic press standards, if all of the ilm regulars bought this, it'd be a blockbuster.

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:37 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm told that the publisher, in an effort to stir up interest at BookExpo (a trade show), gave away L'Trimm albums.

Derek Krissoff (Derek), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:40 (fifteen years ago) link

hahahahahahaha

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:41 (fifteen years ago) link

this book is insanely dense.

strng hlkngtn, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:48 (fifteen years ago) link

and completely worth it for the "disco tex" essay alone.

strng hlkngtn, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:48 (fifteen years ago) link

dense like ralph wiggum or dense like cheesecake?

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:48 (fifteen years ago) link

like internet humor.

strng hlkngtn, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:50 (fifteen years ago) link

where have you read it, jess?

jaymc (jaymc), Monday, 6 June 2005 20:51 (fifteen years ago) link

the univ. of georgia press fairy put it under my pillow last fall

(note: i am going to assume what i read isn't the exact final version of what will appear between covers in a few months, but i would assume the bulk of it is still in there.)

strng hlkngtn, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:54 (fifteen years ago) link

and working in a bookstore, all i can say is that $20 and up for a paperback is pretty common these days, for a "specialty trade" esp from a small publisher.

strng hlkngtn, Monday, 6 June 2005 20:56 (fifteen years ago) link

I just paid $19.95 for the This is Pop EMP book.

jaymc (jaymc), Monday, 6 June 2005 21:01 (fifteen years ago) link

is all of the disco-tex essay in it or is it just the excerpt already available here?

teeth montrose (Cozen), Monday, 6 June 2005 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link

When people say real/fake they'd generally be better served saying convincing/unconvincing bcz then things can be taken on a case by case basis rather than having to conform to some rule.

(Anthony, soz for spelling jokes, it was just goofing rather than a dig.)

Raw Patrick (Raw Patrick), Friday, 12 May 2006 07:50 (fourteen years ago) link

the problem with rockism is not "bad" listening (or ideological listening, as per Jody Rosen) but lazy writing.

OTM like a thousand fire alarms on fire. and to take it to the next step (following the ambrose bierce formula of "good writing = clear thinking"), lazy writing is lazy thinking. of course not all lazy thinking is rockism -- rockism is a subset of lazy thinking, or a caricature of that subset or whatever. but as a subset that directly protrudes 'pon the fields of criticism, it is no surprise that it attracts ire therefrom.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Friday, 12 May 2006 08:03 (fourteen years ago) link

I think that the anti-rockism movement has been a healthy thing for rock criticism (or should I call it "pop criticism"? - see you can't even use the term "rock criticism" anymore - thanks a lot, anti-rockists! - maybe I'll hedge my bets and go with "rock/pop criticism") because it's forced people to think twice before using certain hoary cliches which had crept into the discourse. Due to the constant need to work within draconian space constraints, rock/pop critics tend to fall back on buzzwords, superwords, and other succinct signifiers to get their judgments across. If anti-rockism has done anything, it's prevented rock/pop critics from issuing certain easy blanket dismissals that use to save them the trouble of explaining themselves. It used to be that you could dismiss a band as being "manufactured" or "glossy" or "slick" or "overproduced" and everyone would know what you were talking about and kind of nod their heads. Nowadays, ideally, you have to back that up with some critical justification. You have to think specifically: what do I mean by calling this band "manufactured" and why is that a bad thing? I think it's good for people to ask themselves these sorts of questions. Why can't a song which has been packaged by a team of highly-paid producers and songwriters be just as valid an art form as something which has been written on a cocktail napkin by a would-be Dylan Thomas? How much difference is there in the finished product? And if it is different, is it automatically worse?

The danger of course is that you just end up substituting one set of lazy buzzwords for another set. So you may not be able to dismiss a band as being "manufactured" any more, but if you're pressed for time, you can still get away with dismissing them for being "rockist" - and no one will really be any the wiser, though you'll be more in tune with the zeitgeist.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 13:23 (fourteen years ago) link

When people say real/fake they'd generally be better served saying convincing/unconvincing

You've hit at the roots of the "authenticity" issue for me. An audience that requires performers to be authentic sets up a system with inherent flaws. Musicians who act out joy/desire/rage/fear are expected to be "real" in ways that aren't expected of, say, actors.

Above all else, an audience wants actors to be convincing. It's what an audience should want of musicians, too, but somehow this requirement gets expressed in terms of realness/authenticity. This transforms the desire into one that can never truly be met. The illusion that it has been met can be created/maintained, however, "I'm buying into the dream so I can believe it's real" is always gonna break yr heart - and when it does, the results can be ugly.

A recent reminder was Scorsese's Dylan doc, which portrays him as sort of an empty vessel, a man-boy trying on different masks and appropriating aesthetic poses. Both his audience and his fellow folk musicians got hung up on issues of authenticity and we ended up with JUDAS! (the cry of the heartbroken dreamer waking) Which is ironic, since Dylan is a rockist totem nowadays.

Just goes to show this desire for authenticity isn't inherent to rock. It's been around in folk, country, jazz, who knows what else. John Jacob Niles (also in No Direction Home) was snubbed for years because of his crimes against authenticity - even though he was the most striking folk performer of the many shown in the doc.

Frank, if I get time I'll follow up on the Plato stuff. Would you mind if I call you Superfrank?

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 14:10 (fourteen years ago) link

Sometimes I think that the argument that gets distilled down to rockism vs. popism in music criticism is really the same argument that goes by the name art vs. commerce in other fields. Ie., the tension between art as commodity and art as art. Art is not supposed to be created for mercantile ends. Financial ambition is not supposed to be a factor. When people call a song fake, what they usually mean is that the person is just doing it to make money. They might be singing "I love you, I love you", but what they mean is "I want to be rich". The gap between motivation and message is where the accusation of inauthenticity comes into play.

It's interesting that recent trends in popular hip-hop have kind of turned this dichotomy upside down. If you make a song because you want to be rich, but then you go ahead and sing about (or rap about) the fact that you want to be rich, can you be accused of inauthenticity any more? If you wear your motivations on your sleeve, how can you be accused of being fake? Now it's the people who are singing "I love you, I love you" who seem to be faking it, and those who are singing about their expensive cars and homes who are being real.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 14:26 (fourteen years ago) link

More random thoughts: A particular genre will attract artists who are willling to work within its confines. But the boundaries of a genre are not defined by one sanctioned group - they're defined by on-going dialogues between artists, audience, critics, and industry. Any one of the players can assert their definitions, and those definitions stand or fall based on the reactions of the others.

The more attractive a genre is to artists, audiences, critics, or industry, the more it will be hotly debated. No one fights over what doo-wop is, but if we suddenly have a doo-wop revival and there are artists redefining its borders, audiences reacting, critics spilling ink, and industry counting the till, there will be debate. What does it mean that Ashlee Simpson has recorded a doo-wop album? Is it authentic?

I guess what I'm saying is that ANY genre has this potential. It's inherent to genres. When one is hotly debated, all you're commenting on is its vitality. Punk is debated because it had legs. It created an industry of labels, magazines, distributors, clubs. It resonated with subsequent generations, and countless hardcore, goth, indie, alternative, grunge, and emo bands have lived in its shadow.

Are there inherent qualities to a genre that increase the likelihood of debate? Probably. When a musical genre stands in for social ideas/ideals that's bound to happen, whether it's folk, disco, punk, or freedom rock.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 15:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Are electronic artists who aren't as "performative" the way Aretha Franklin or Bob Dylan well-served by "real/fake" or "convincing/unconvincing"?

I suppose we can say D MOB's "We Call It Acieed" (mainly instrumental, IIRC all-electronic except for the banshee cry of ACIIIIID) is fake because (as Simon Reynolds puts it in Generation Ecstasy) it sounds like a crass techno cash-in record, because it tries to ape the conventions of a new genre, but does so poorly. But if I say it's fake or unconvincing when Celine Dion sings "My Heart Will Go On" in Vegas for the umpteenth time, I think it's understood that I means she's singing about or enacting or performing emotions she doesn't feel, doesn't feel any longer, has never felt or could never feel. It seems like two different things are happening here...right?

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Friday, 12 May 2006 15:24 (fourteen years ago) link

Not necessarily. I hear Celine Dion's CD and I hear D MOB's 12" - I conclude both are crass based on my interpertation of the sounds coming out of the speakers. I use the word performance in a very broad sense, in that a recording is a snapshot of a performance.

What constitutes "performance" in a predominately electronic recording is an interesting topic for discussion, but I don't think it changes the terms of what we're talking about here. It's still an artist making decisions / taking specific actions to realize a piece of music.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 16:34 (fourteen years ago) link

So you may not be able to dismiss a band as being "manufactured" any more, but if you're pressed for time, you can still get away with dismissing them for being "rockist" - and no one will really be any the wiser, though you'll be more in tune with the zeitgeist.

Can a band (or someone's music) be rockist? Or is this primarily a pejorative to fling at critics/fans (or at musicians speaking outside their role as musicians, e.g. in interviews).

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 17:26 (fourteen years ago) link

I've seen the term applied to bands and records as well as to critics/fans. Some examples from Pitchfork:

"In most principle respects, this album is straight, rockist Brit-pop."

"Hammond and Rhodes organs, guitars, and drums kick out the jams trio-style (keyboards at the front), and their muscular output sounds about as authentically rockist as possible in 2003..."

"Lenola take a decidedly rockist approach to their influences..."

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 17:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Another good one:

"...the Pin-Ups represent the absolute bottom of music's barrel-- they're burned-out studio hags so entrenched in rockist dogma that they lose all frame of reference."

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 17:50 (fourteen years ago) link

a recording is a snapshot of a performance

Hm. What about something like one of Glenn Gould's piano recordings, which uses a lot of splices to create an "ideal" version of a Bach prelude, or a track from one of Miles Davis' '70's albums, where bits and pieces of in-studio jams were stitched together to create an entirely new piece of music.* In these cases, the recordings aren't a snapshot of a performance. If a recording is a recording of someone playing the guitar, but sped up ten times as fast, then it's not even a recording of something that's theoretically performable. So the Glenn Gould, the Miles and the superfast guitar recordings aren't snapshots of performances. Unless, of course, the studio work involved is the performance. But...hmm...we don't call On the Corner a Teo Macero album so much as a Miles Davis album...uh, right?

Is "snapshot" redundant? "A recording is a snapshot of a performance" = "A recording is a recording of a performance."

*These may be mischaracterizations, sadly.

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Friday, 12 May 2006 17:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Recording devices and electronic instruments have added some odd dimensions to our evaluations of performance - I'm struggling a bit to come up with the appropriate term, but it's fairly generic: the creation of music.

Thinking a little more about the D MOB / Dion point. Instrumental dance music operates under same strictures that all instrumental music does - it needs to communicate to/elicit in the listener a set of emotions and ideas non-verbally. Every choice of chords/instruments/effects has an impact on a musician's ability to convince you that they have created a valid musical statement (or even a valid genre entry) - just as a singer's/actor's choice of words or tone has an impact on their ability to convince you that their performance has aesthetic value.

I'd say that splices are aesthetic musical decisions, and "stitching together" becomes another method of composition. Whether Miles chooses not to play a particular run, or Macero or Davis decides to remove one he's played on tape, both are examples of aesthetic decisions (and deciding not to do something can be as important as doing it). You bring up another point, which is the trouble of authorship in collaborative arts (e.g. is the director really the "author" of a film? it's usually assumed so but generally not the case), another factor complicating the defense of authenticity.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 18:18 (fourteen years ago) link

What about something like one of Glenn Gould's piano recordings, which uses a lot of splices to create an "ideal" version of a Bach prelude, or a track from one of Miles Davis' '70's albums, where bits and pieces of in-studio jams were stitched together to create an entirely new piece of music.* In these cases, the recordings aren't a snapshot of a performance.

In a way, they are, but it's the performance of Macero/Davis on the studio-as-instrument at a given point-in-time. If you were provided the same set of musicians and tools, trying to recreate In A Quiet Way would be just as difficult for you as recreating Birth of the Cool (perhaps even more difficult). An ex-girlfriend of mine was dumbstruck when she tried to learn the guitar solo from "Comfortably Numb" - how did Gilmour play it? His fingers seemed to have the ability to be in two places at once on the fretboard! She learned years later they had spliced together the best bits from several different solos. Can't remember where I heard this (Dylan doc again?) but there was some folk guitarist marveling at someone else's playing ability on a certain recording, only to find out later the tape had been sped up, even the guy he was admiring couldn't play it that fast!

Another way to look at it is - a director shapes an actor's performance by editing longer pieces of film. Is the actor no longer performing?

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 18:34 (fourteen years ago) link

I think that a rockist would be willing to accept tape manipulation and other studio post-processing as a valid "aesthetic decision" if they are convinced that the musician/artist is doing it for the right reasons - ie., for aesthetic reasons, and not for commercial reasons. For instance, if Negativland make an album sampling U2 in order to make some point about intellectual property rights in late-capitalist society, that's a valid aesthetic decision. But if Milli Vanilli overdub their vocals with other singers and try to pass them off as their own, that's a crass commercial decision.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 18:36 (fourteen years ago) link

Hopefully you did not write these o. nate. In that case I apologize in advance:

"In most principle respects, this album is straight, rockist Brit-pop."

This doesn't tell me much, aside from the prejudices of the reviewer.

"Hammond and Rhodes organs, guitars, and drums kick out the jams trio-style (keyboards at the front), and their muscular output sounds about as authentically rockist as possible in 2003..."

This is slightly more defensible, one could argue the reviewer is speaking to the music's perception-by-others rather than any inherent properties, i.e. this music will be acceptable to rockists, though again that's not saying much at all.

"Lenola take a decidedly rockist approach to their influences..."

Understandable, since it addresses the musicians as listeners, but who knows what tosh came after the ellipses.

"...the Pin-Ups represent the absolute bottom of music's barrel-- they're burned-out studio hags so entrenched in rockist dogma that they lose all frame of reference."

See # 1.

For years, Queen printed "No synthesizers" on their album covers (untill, of course, they started using them). Rockist?

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 18:51 (fourteen years ago) link

No, I didn't write any of those.

I guess one could argue that the "No synthesizers" label was rockist, because it seems to be a claim for a type of authenticity that rockists would value. In this case "synthesizers" are like some kind of synthetic food additive (think MSG) that might make the food taste better for a moment, but is bound to give you headaches and dizzy spells afterwards. A synthesizer tuned to sound like a guitar might be a way for bands who lack real chops to fake the sound of a real band.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 12 May 2006 19:03 (fourteen years ago) link

I think that a rockist would be willing to accept tape manipulation and other studio post-processing as a valid "aesthetic decision" if they are convinced that the musician/artist is doing it for the right reasons - ie., for aesthetic reasons, and not for commercial reasons. For instance, if Negativland make an album sampling U2 in order to make some point about intellectual property rights in late-capitalist society, that's a valid aesthetic decision. But if Milli Vanilli overdub their vocals with other singers and try to pass them off as their own, that's a crass commercial decision.
-- o. nate (syne_wav...), May 12th, 2006 3:36 PM.

Projecting onto an artist's intention = can of worms + can opener. Or building yr house on sand. Or setting yourself up for a broken heart (see my Dylan comments above).

I'd also think rockists would adjudge Negativland to be a load of crap, since they do not rock. Rock on U2!

(Anybody see the MTV interview where Kurt Loder asked a squirming U2 if they had cleared all the copyrights for the clips they projected behind them on the Zoo TV tour? Classic. He should have gone for the gold and brought up Negativland, though.)

Supposedly Queen did it because so many people assumed they had to be using synthesizers to get the sounds they were getting. Then again, what's the difference between using a synthesizer and laying down 20 vocal tracks running through 10 rack processors? Both smoke and mirrors anyway.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 19:18 (fourteen years ago) link

But Negativeland ARE a load of crap.

xhuxk, Friday, 12 May 2006 19:54 (fourteen years ago) link

And since when do rockists care about whether music rocks?

xhuxk, Friday, 12 May 2006 19:56 (fourteen years ago) link

(Or, to put it another way, what does caring about whether music rocks have to do with rockism-so-called?)

My favorite no-machines-used-and-proud-of-it band, as I've said many times, was Tesla, who always named their albums after mechanical stuff and who were named after the guy who discovered alternating current (or something).

xhuxk, Friday, 12 May 2006 20:00 (fourteen years ago) link

also fluorescent lights.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 12 May 2006 20:06 (fourteen years ago) link

"An ideal that has the potential to keep shifting so as to defeat all attempts at embodiment" is actually a pretty good thumbnail definition of "Superword."

It's not written into the concept "ideal" that it keep changing, even if the ideals designated by a word often do change. In fact, you can use the word "ideal" to designate what doesn't change. I'm not up on my Plato, but I think he'd think of "ideal" (or whatever word he was using) and "Superword" as antithetical notions.

I'm no expert in Greek philosophy and y'all are probably better off reading Plato entries in wikipedia, but here goes: Plato divides the world into two realms: the world of things and the world of ideas. The world of things is populated by objects: horses, tables, poems. We recognize these various horses, tables, or poems as being alike because they are expressions of an idea, the abstract conceptualization of a horse, table, or poem. The relationship between the two are kind of like the cookie and the cookie cutter. The cookie cutter is the idea, with straight lines and perfect curves. The cookies are the real things, bumpy edges, broken corners. In Platonic terms the words idea and ideal become interchangeable.

Plato took this to a metaphysical/spriritual level - he believed there is actually a World Of Ideas, kind of a heaven of forms, where these perfect things (the Universals) live. Human endeavors are attempts to recreate that World Of Ideas on our own plane. If you make a table or a poem, you're trying to make the perfect table or poem, but you never do. A thing in the physical world is an imperfect expression or instance of a perfect form or idea. We're separated from the World Of Ideas, but are painfully aware of it - a perfection we can't ever attain.

It's a powerful concept, and it's had broad applications in everything from art theory to physics to manufacturing to programming (object oriented programming borrows a lot from this - forms, instances, objects). People use it and aren't even aware of it. A lot of genre theory is bound up in these terms.

So when I hear "there's a perfect ideal and each expression of it falls short of someone's expectations, causing debate and further attempts at expression," I think Plato (minus the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo).

I do think that all genre names can get used as Superwords. But nonetheless, the word "genre" doesn't contain within it the idea that it represents an ideal that keeps changing.

I'd say the modern concept of genre contains exactly that idea. Some theorists think that every instance of a genre modifies the genre's definition in some way. Check out that Chandler link above, if you get a chance.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 20:13 (fourteen years ago) link

But Negativeland ARE a load of crap.

ROCKIST

And since when do rockists care about whether music rocks?
-- xhuxk (xedd...), May 12th, 2006 4:56 PM.

So true. Like Dylan rocks, gimme a break.

Edward III (edward iii), Friday, 12 May 2006 20:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Maybe the "No synthesizers" thing on Queen and Boston records was mostly to let people know that the overdubs were all mostly Brian May/Tom Scholz, whom I think were really into using the guitar as an electronic instrument and perhaps steered away from guitar playing characteristics perceived to be more "human,"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Friday, 12 May 2006 20:35 (fourteen years ago) link

dylan obv. rocks.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Saturday, 13 May 2006 05:01 (fourteen years ago) link

I read in Musician magazine that some of the ex-members of Boston said that Scholz actually played all the instrumental parts on the albums himself, but he had to have a band to play live, and also, he had to have a *band*, to be real rockin, so the hired hands let the press and public think they played on the records. I didn't think Scorsese's Dylan came across as an empty vessel, he came across as a synthesizer (in a good way), but when he went literally electric, he crossed the line for some. Became a superword overall, if you like, buut those fans wanted him to go thus far and no further, and some prob consider that his 90s-00s albums go back to what they wanted (no more "fake neurotic," like that girl said in the doc?).But anyway, there were always Dylan parodies, like Baez did in concert, or orecords billed to Bobby The Poet, etc. Like there were always Madonna jokes. The recent re-rise of wrestling (at least in the US) prob has something to do with the appeal of the real fake (Girl I know ,bouncing her up and down on the sofa, pointing at the screen:"That's so fake! THAT'S SOOO FAAAKE!" Ooo baby ooo wee, it's your million dollar bash.)

don, Saturday, 13 May 2006 05:08 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, Edward III, that's more or less what I thought; which is why "Superword" and Plato's "idea/ideal" are antithetical concepts. For Plato the ideas/ideals don't change; whereas with Superwords, the ideas/ideals change so as to flee embodiment. So the concept "Superword" is not remotely Platonic.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Saturday, 13 May 2006 05:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Sterling, how about if I rewrite it like this:

"For example, it bugged me when Michael Roberts called Ricky Martin 'watered down' in comparison to (supposedly) real Latin music, but I can easily myself criticize antirockists for a distorted, domesticated, watered-down version of Meltzer-Bangs-Kogan-Eddy style criticism. So I don't see where Michael Roberts and I are different in kind. He's just wrong in that particular instance. So I don't think rockism exists or ever existed, though I realize that I'm not going to convince people to stop using the word."

And don't distract yourself with wondering whether Meltzer-Bangs-Kogan-Eddy can really constitute a genre, or how much the antirockists took from people like us (and from Xgau and Frith and Emerson etc. etc. etc.). This is just an example. But it's a good example, given that Kogan et al. probe themselves and their culture, while the antirockist plays a game of pretend where it's the other guy who's hung up on authenticity and the antirockist pretends not to be. "Rockist" is not a viable concept, and this is because it can't distinguish the rockist from the nonrockist.

But anyway, how about this:

"So now so many musicians conform to the idea of truth that says that truth is raw, ugly, and primitive that this primitiveness is a cliché, it's a new brand of deodorant, punk-hardcore deodorant; ultimately, it's nothing. Punk isn't punk anymore, it's a bunch of musical/clothing signs that symbolize punk. It's closer to literature or advertising than to music."
—Frank Kogan, 1985

And now, let's rewrite it: "So now so many musicians conform to the idea of 'Latin' that says that Latin music is energetic that this energy is a cliché, it's a new brand of deodorant, Latino-energy-brand deodorant; ultimately, it's nothing. Latin music isn't Latin anymore, it's a bunch of musical/clothing signs that symbolize 'Latin.' It's closer to literature or advertising than to music."

So, again, how is Michael Roberts different in kind from me? How is rockism different in kind from any other criticism that sees something of valued being cheapened? I'm guessing Roberts thought Ricky Martin was watering the music down to appeal to an audience that can't tell crap from the good stuff. I thought punk was dumbing itself down to appeal to the punks. "yr. identifying the term 'rockist' with the FORM of an argument." So? It seems to me I'm identifying the content as well. The only difference is that Roberts is walking an old trail in saying that the ethnic thing is more real than something that takes on Anglo characteristics, whereas my attack is somewhat more novel. But not all that much. Maybe I think Iggy is more real than something that now meets audience expectations. The content - not just the form - feels similar here. Both "Latin" and "Iggy" get to play the "other." And lauding Meltzer-Bangs-Kogan-Eddy: maybe that's because we're the other, the ones you've never seen before...

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Saturday, 13 May 2006 06:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Lots of interesting stuff here. On the Plato thing, isn't saying 'Plato believes in ideas' because it comes up in one of the Socratic dialogues like saying 'Eminem wants to kill his wife' because he says so in this here song? If Plato's allegory of the cave is a warning AGAINST the idea that man can turn around and see something other than shadows on the wall, then might he not be closer to Superwords than you think? i.e. I guess I mean: what if the kind of contamination Frank identifies at the start of the book (I haven't re-read to Superwords yet) and uses the suburbs as the example of, also applies to ideas and ideals, and Plato's trying to tell us that. After all, isn't the Republic a giant lesson in how undesirable an 'ideal' government would be? Every time we think about democracy aren't we're using a word which invokes an ideal of equality that no actually existing democracy could ever live up to (like suburban suggests 'safety') but also threatens us with populism, demagoguery, all those things which a nice strong aristocracy might protect us against (where we would lose the promise of freedom). i.e. in protecting us, suburban threatens us with blandness / conformity etc.; in freeing us, democracy threatens us with all kinds of horrors. So are political terms superwords?

alext (alext), Saturday, 13 May 2006 07:21 (fourteen years ago) link

How is rockism different in kind from any other criticism that sees something of valued being cheapened?

maybe the point of talking about "rockism" is to talk about this pejorative idea of things being cheapened. there's a fear of corruption of some kind there, whether it's platonic or not.

xpost: i'm a little unclear on this superwords thing, but i'm guessing "democracy" qualifies in spades.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Saturday, 13 May 2006 07:23 (fourteen years ago) link

There's still a valuational issue there. The idea of rockism is that the guy is perhaps maybe not ABLE to hear that "Livin' la Vida Loca' is a really good song.* Any issue involving a person making an accusation about something being "watered down" doesn't necessarily involve a comparable bias.

* Not being an expert on Latin music, I don't know the extent to which that criticism of Ricky Martin was valid. (I happen to like "Livin' la Vida Loca.") I thought the guy I overheard in the record store whom I mentioned above seemed biased in what are commonly considered rockist ways: valuing instrumental chops over technology, valuing a standard rock-based notion of lyrical "relevance," etc.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 13 May 2006 07:46 (fourteen years ago) link

I mean, are they really comparable situations? Is someone really thinking that you can't see the value in this watered down criticism in the same way that you're thinking the person can't perceive the value in Ricky Martin?

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 13 May 2006 07:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Only have time for a couple quick points. I haven't really answered Enrique yet.

"They don't write their own songs" is a placeholder, an "explanation" that gives him the excuse not to probe himself for the real reasons ≠ it makes no difference who writes the songs

(I.e., I'm not a "music" purist who thinks music can be reduced to sound and that all other considerations can be ignored.)

But Enrique, notice your own screwy assumption (that the UGA Press's primay interest is in making a buck, whereas my primary interest is in expressing my ideas, and that the two interests are in conflict). Why assume that Martin & Rami are interested in making a buck, whereas Timberlake and crew would be interested in expressing themselves if they only were allowed to? Or, for that matter, why assume that they're not expressing themselves?

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Saturday, 13 May 2006 12:34 (fourteen years ago) link

Those questions in my previous post are not rhetorical, by the way.

Also, that I want to get rid of the word "rockist" doesn't mean that the word is meaningless in its present usage (doesn't mean I can't more-or-less guess what kind of argument or attitude will get called "rockist"). Buzz words aren't meaningless; the problem is that they're used to produce a buzz in oneself rather than to probe.

Alex, my Superwords paper in college used "freedom" as one of its examples; "church of Christ" was my paradigm example, though I forget if it was in the paper. In fact, I forget if "Superword" was in the paper. (The paper is sitting in a box in my closet, so I can find out, in case I'm feeling energetic.)

I'm sure there is a Superword aspect to a lot of what Plato did. But the point I was making was that "Superword" itself isn't a Platonic concept, and it's one he would find abhorrent, probably. I was responding to the attempts above to say that "Superword" simply regurgitates old concepts, so who needs the term?

I'd say Plato's big Superword was "Reality," and that subsequent philosophy followed him in this. (His use of "idea" didn't really catch on, did it?) They had to destroy the village to save it. They had to make reality inaccessible to save it from being mere appearance. And eventually "reality" crosses over from super to stupor, if you buy into an either/or between "flux" and "antecedent being" - Plato did buy into that dichotomy, did he not? (But he wouldn't have used the term "antecedent being," which is a term that Dewey used to critique that notion of "reality.") (Again, I'm not up on my Plato.)

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Saturday, 13 May 2006 12:53 (fourteen years ago) link

Notice that I'm not going along with the view that there's something called "rockism" that's entrenched in rock criticism and that only since people formulated the term "rockism" and began a critique of the underlying premises of "rockism" have we shed ourselves of those old, entrenched attitudes. I'm seeing antirockism instead as a way of trying to make rock criticism safe for teacher's pets. Seems to me that in '65 Goldstein got along fine in extolling the Shangri-Las without having to denounce "rockism," and Paul Nelson did the same in extolling electric Dylan.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Saturday, 13 May 2006 13:05 (fourteen years ago) link

I really do have to read this but right now I'm concerning myself with actually trying to read Middlemarch fifteen-odd years of sorta trying and King Leopold's Ghost, as prompted impromptuly by a bizarre use of the phrase "Heart of Darkness" on a construction company's website. (IE "We firmly believe that the pre-construction planning phase to a project is the 'Heart of Darkness' to a project's success.") When that happens I'll feel more comfortable deploying Koganian language and asking questions...but in the meantime, my impression is that Plato, thru Socrates, was keen on demonstrating the Superwordiness of "virtue," "justice," "love" and so on?

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Saturday, 13 May 2006 13:31 (fourteen years ago) link

Actually, no, that's totally wrong. IIRC (it's been AGES since I've read them, I am NO authority on this) people in Platonic dialogues don't really tussle over whose definition of "virtue" et al. is the right one, so much as they come to see the utter inadequacy of their definitions compared to the one Socrates eventually pulls out of his hat.

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Saturday, 13 May 2006 13:37 (fourteen years ago) link

(I.e., I'm not a "music" purist who thinks music can be reduced to sound and that all other considerations can be ignored.)

Wait, are you saying there are people who believe this?

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Saturday, 13 May 2006 21:11 (fourteen years ago) link


"King Leopold's Ghost, as prompted impromptuly by a bizarre use of the phrase "Heart of Darkness" on a construction company's website"

--> this comment led me to reviews of the book found on complete-review.com, which in turn led me to Luc Sante's review, which in turn led me to Mark Twain's "King Leopold's Soliloquy", which in turn has inspired me to begin working on "King Dubya's Soliloquy" in a similar spirit

"We firmly believe that the pre-construction planning phase to a project is the 'Heart of Darkness' to a project's success."

--> and not its "Paths of Glory" or "Full Metal Jacket"?? ;)

"...I'll feel more comfortable deploying Koganian language..."

how do you differentiate between the various concepts of Koganian, Koganesque, and Koganistic? And which of these, do you think, is most likely to become a Superword?

baby beefcakes, Wednesday, 17 May 2006 16:50 (fourteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Woo-hoo, the Clearwater, FL library has actually ordered a copy at my request! I bought one of my own in the meantime (it's not like I was gonna *wait* or anything), but still, how cool is that?

Patrick (Patrick), Thursday, 1 June 2006 00:20 (fourteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
Dudes. New favorite crit collection.

hint--its this one.

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Sunday, 15 April 2007 12:34 (thirteen years ago) link

So - is the book any good? I haven't seen it on any of the bookstore shelves on my local stores but haven't been looking very hard. I love reading about music so I define 'any good' as an enjoyable read first and foremost.

I'm too old and too contrarian to actually have my opinion changed by a book of critisism, so the critic can be spouting any old blather - as long as its clean open text thats wants to engage with the reader - and I won't mind, (I'm much the same with song lyrics, I can engage with them emotionally without them even making much sense).

The reason I'm asking about the book in terms of it being any good is that I don't much enjoy reading the more serious end of US critisism, I might agree with it - Marcus on post punk, or find it so culturally closed as just to me baffling (is this common to many non-Americans or just me? Christagau's Americanismness

I once speculated on here that it didn't matter much how well reasoned a music critics writing was, it usually sparked off enough ideas to the reader to make it worth reading. Frank Kogan found the concept of somebody not agreeing with him so outlandish he suggested I was only saying this for effect, and didn't really mean it.

But just as the rockism debate has value as a debate (or it did, its really old and tired now surely?) I'm still keen to challenge "criticism" and the assumptions we make as readers... however even as an anti-criticist I still love reading a good book on music.

Sandy Blair, Sunday, 15 April 2007 18:03 (thirteen years ago) link

Sandy, the book is readable, interesting, and has a compelling take on the function of music criticism. Also - it's really easy to flip through and read out of order. I personally love non-linear criticism. Basically - I think it's really, really good

Mordechai Shinefield, Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:24 (thirteen years ago) link

Frank Kogan found the concept of somebody not agreeing with him so outlandish

What?? People disagree with Frank all the time; he not only welcomes it; he even encourages it!

It's a great book about music, by the way.

xhuxk, Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:37 (thirteen years ago) link

find it so culturally closed as just to me baffling

Not denying this might be true at times, but how is it more culturally closed than criticism from anywhere else? (My inclination would be to think that Brit-crit tends to be way more closed culturally than U.S. crit. But then I'm not a non-American, obviously.) (And Christgau's been an apostle for world music for decades, to the point that people make fun of him for it! Though yeah, he can be a bit of a Francophobe when it comes to Daft Punk reviews. And he has defended his American-centricism on occassion, if that's what you mean; hell, blues and jazz and country and rock'n'roll and hip-hop being invented here oughta count for something, right? Or am I missing your point?)

xhuxk, Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:46 (thirteen years ago) link

Brit-crit tends to be way more closed culturally than U.S. crit.

Though, I dunno, more reggae may have shown up on late '80s N.M.E. and Melody Maker year-end lists than in Pazz & Jop. That was a long time ago, though. Now it's all Brit-pop, "innit"?

xhuxk, Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:52 (thirteen years ago) link

thirteen years pass...

this is kind of interesting, primitive garage scuzz take on a more nihilistic modern lovers vibe

https://zachphillips.bandcamp.com/album/stars-vomit-coffee-shop-osr72

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:47 (two weeks ago) link

I didn't know this thread existed. I feel a little self-conscious if I post a link here to a Zoomcast or to something I've written--Frank was posting whole reviews of his book!

I downloaded that Stars Vomit Coffee Shop cassette a while back--seems to have gone on Bandcamp in 2016.

clemenza, Wednesday, 17 February 2021 19:13 (two weeks ago) link

Didn't know that 'til I read it here; thanks for the tip.
I asked Frank about it after seeing this thread, and he says:

Zach’s a guy who had his own label, OSR, in Brooklyn* for a while and decided to do a reissue of Stars Vomit Coffee Shop. I’m sure it cost him far more than he made from it, though we actually put it together out here: I’d already done a transfer to digital and I guess what they call a remaster several years prior, and my friend Nathan at Denver Disc duplicated the discs for Zach at a discount.

I put up the old liner notes and a few new comments when the reissue came out:

https://koganbot.livejournal.com/362896.html

And, unrelated to Zach, I’d done a digital transfer of England’s Newest Hit Makers at the same time as SVCS, and as luck would have it a Leslie Singer fan by the name of Hal McGee decided in 2018 or so to stream Leslie’s early music and videos online, with Leslie’s help and permission. He’s created a very handsome site, with notes and archival photos and posters. Anyhow, here’s the link to Your Mom Too’s England’s Newest Hit Makers. I recommend you listen to the individual songs since those use my (relatively) higher-quality digital transfer, rather than the stream of the cassette at the top of the site, the cassette being a duping generation or two down in fidelity.

http://www.haltapes.com/your-mom-too.html

Also, I did the camera work and gave advice and encouragement on a couple of Leslie’s videos, Hot Rox and Smokie: Portrait of a Glitter Babe, which you can find if you scroll down here. They’re quite brilliant:

http://www.haltapes.com/gof-videos.html

And you should check out the other of her vids too, obviously.

The general site that links the rest of her tapes is here. Girls On Fire was the name Leslie used on much of her music.

http://www.haltapes.com/girls-on-fire.html

In any event, I don’t think anyone else has ever made music that sounds quite like Your Mom Too, especially the great “My Couch.”

*But I see that Zach moved to Brussels last year!

Still got all the above music on tapes: good fun stuff, not quite (at *least* quite)like anything else.

dow, Saturday, 20 February 2021 02:26 (two weeks ago) link


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