Rock and Roll Always Forgets

A Quarter Century of Music Criticism

Rock and Roll Always Forgets

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 32 illustrations Published: August 2011

Author: Chuck Eddy

Cultural Studies, Music > Popular Music

Chuck Eddy is one of the most entertaining, idiosyncratic, influential, and prolific music critics of the past three decades. His byline has appeared everywhere from the Village Voice and Rolling Stone to Creem, Spin, and Vibe. Eddy is a consistently incisive journalist, unafraid to explore and defend genres that other critics look down on or ignore. His interviews with subjects ranging from the Beastie Boys, the Pet Shop Boys, Robert Plant, and Teena Marie to the Flaming Lips, AC/DC, and Eminem’s grandmother are unforgettable. His review of a 1985 Aerosmith album reportedly inspired the producer Rick Rubin to pair the rockers with Run DMC. In the eighties, Eddy was one of the first critics to widely cover indie rock, and he has since brought his signature hyper-caffeinated, hyper-hyphenated style to bear on heavy metal, hip-hop, country—you name it. Rock and Roll Always Forgets features the best, most provocative reviews, interviews, columns, and essays written by this singular critic. Essential reading for music scholars and fans, it may well be the definitive time-capsule comment on pop music at the turn of the twenty-first century.


“. . . Rock And Roll Always Forgets is entertaining and thought-provoking as only Eddy can achieve.” — Rev. Keith A. Gordon, Blurt

“[A] mother-lode of vibrant writing that captures the passionate energy of having a long-term love affair with America’s most unruly and pervasive art forms.” — Marc Campbell, Dangerous Minds

“[P]ure joy. . . . [G]et on RARAF: There is plenty of fun strut and 4 a.m. deepness here, perhaps more than most University Press books ever have contained within. Even if you still have stacks of those old rags, and remember those cranky lines Eddy could italicize (where most would cowardly spit them out sideways). Rock and roll may always forget, but Chuck Eddy’s work should often be causing trouble in mind.” — Chris Estey, KEXP

“Chuck Eddy glides through music criticism like a grumpy fanatic. Each article included in Rock and Roll Always Forgets—culled from Eddy's vast back catalogue of music journalism articles, beginning with the early 1980s—is packed with cultural references, touchstones, facts, witty asides, a dash of snark, and acknowledgments of once-obscure acts. Yet, he approaches each band like he's the first to have discovered it. He's a musical anthropologist, but also, archeologist, digging up the remains of musicians past, lest we forget.” — Emily Savage, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Chuck Eddy has created a stunning portfolio of sometimes gracious and impressed comments and brutally honest and painful criticisms. Rock And Roll Always Forgets is a wonderful collection of some of his most controversial and well constructed works.” — Vanessa Bennett, Verbicide

(Selected as a Best Nonfiction Book of 2011) “Chuck Eddy. Is there anyone who has written about music over the last few decades who manages to be so brilliantly contrary? To write with such cauterizing, strident and beautiful prose? To be so unrepentedly full of bullshit? Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism will convince you that the answer is no. . . . You’ll find some of the most insightful and revealing rock-crit you’ve ever read, here.” — W. Scott Poole, PopMatters

“Eddy . . . is one of the rare critics who's fun and interesting to read even when vehemently disagreeing with some of his contrary opinions. That's no small feat.” — Bill Holdship, Metro Times (Detroit)

“Few longtime pop music critics have been as fearlessly unhip in both their likes and dislikes, have been so willing to accept oft-ignored music on its own terms and have been as rock 'n' roll as Chuck Eddy, writer, former Village Voice music editor, self-described curmudgeon, ex-Army captain and hair-metal expert.” — Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

“Its 350 pages contain some of the best, most infuriating, provocative, silly,
subversive and hilarious bits of music criticism published over the past quarter century (er, make that 30 years).” — Kembrew McLeod, Little Village Magazine

“One of the most energetic and engaging critics in the United States. Eddy might well be the last of the breed of music writers who are as interesting as the musicians they cover.” — Alison Fensterstock, Times-Picayune

“This smart, very funny anthology includes some of the best work by any writer on country, metal, teen pop, Eighties hip-hop and Eminem. It’s the only book you’ll ever read that compares Jay-Z’s The Blueprint to Huey Lewis’ Sports—and means it as a compliment.” — Jody Rosen, Rolling Stone

“To read Eddy's stuff is to want to walk away from the aggressive nature of his voice. Then again, to read him is to constantly say to yourself, ‘Yes, but ... ,’ 
which is exactly what he wants to have happen. And to read him is to want to go out and hear the most random thing possible and figure out how it fits into how you view the world.” — Joe Gross, Austin American-Statesman

“What makes this collection especially entertaining is Eddy’s coverage of the entire pop-culture landscape, from Bad Religion and Coolio to Toby Keith and Eminem; while he has always had a serious interest in supporting emerging acts, he treats indie originals or steadfast veterans with equal amounts of praise or befuddlement. Also apparent is Eddy’s seemingly rare ability among critics to change his opinion about a band or a style—and to do so publicly. But the overwhelming victory of these pieces is that he makes you want to listen to both music he loves and music he hates. ­VERDICT A rollicking ride through 25 years of music.” — Peter Thornell, Library Journal

“[T]his new compendium of pieces by Eddy . . . reads like an alternate history of pop's last 25 (or so) years, in which album-oriented rock is saved from itself by the Ramones' Too Tough To Die, latter-day Def Leppard isn't rendered irrelevant by Nirvana, and horn-rimmed consensus about indie darlings Animal Collective is just a bad dream.” — Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle

“Eddy’s eccentricity is not only refreshing and entertaining; it’s also valuable. . . . [S]omething compels Eddy to pay attention to music that no other music journalist can be bothered with. This is a vital counterbalance to the critical herd-mind, and a reminder of how much music making and music fandom exists outside the media radar, and never makes it into the official narrative.” — Simon Reynolds, Bookforum

“Eddy's unflinching ability to connect the dots between what he's hearing and what he's living makes Rock and Roll an electric read. It should trip wires in the minds of not just aspiring and current critics but also casual listeners who might not realize how much is below the surface of what they're hearing.” — Michael Hoinski, Village Voice

“Other anthologies of music writing leave you wanting to race to hear the music being written about. Rock and Roll Always Forgets leaves me wanting to read more Chuck Eddy. And more, and more…” — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

“This wide-ranging collection of essays (from the Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin, etc.) captures Eddy’s cantankerous, spirited, enthusiastic, and forceful takes on music from rap to country and musicians from Michael Jackson to Brad Paisley. . . . Eddy’s far-reaching insights into rock music push the boundaries of the rock criticism, showing why he remains one of our most important music critics.” — Publishers Weekly

“You can predict what Eddy will think of something, and you’ll often be wrong, but what he actually thinks will always make more sense, will fit Eddy’s written persona better, than what you had in mind. Eddy’s taste has a deep coherence that’s close to unique among rock critics. . . . [F]or an Eddy fan, it’s a kick getting to read about his favorite music in-depth in these pages, especially when he’s in its first flush of Chuck-love. Will to Power, the Lordz of Brooklyn, Banda Bahia, and White Wizzard are all here, because who else was going to write about them?” — Josh Langhoff, Los Angeles Review of Books

“I don’t always agree with Chuck Eddy. In fact, I only occasionally agree with Chuck Eddy. But I’m always sure he cares, which I can tell not just because I know him, but because I love reading him. For more than twenty-five years he has been an original and indefatigable voice whose openness to new and unheralded music is legendary.” — Robert Christgau, Dean of American Rock Critics

“When Chuck hears a pop song, it’s like he is the first person who has ever heard it; he’s certainly aware of what the rest of the world already wants to believe, but those pre-existing perceptions are never convincing to him. . . . More than any other critic, Chuck Eddy showed how the experience of listening to music was both intellectually limitless and acutely personal. There was no ‘correct’ way to hear a song, and there were no fixed parameters on how that song could be described in print, and if that song made you reconsider abortion or the Oakland Raiders or your father’s suicide, then that intellectual relationship mattered because your engagement was real.” — Chuck Klosterman, from the foreword


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Chuck Eddy is an independent music journalist living in Austin, Texas. Formerly the music editor at the Village Voice and a senior editor at Billboard, he is the author of The Accidental Evolution of Rock ’n’ Roll: A Misguided Tour through Popular Music and Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe. Chuck Klosterman is a freelance journalist and the author of numerous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgements xv

Foreword / Chuck Klosterman xi

Introduction 1

1. Predicting the Future

Over and Out 9

Rhymed Funk Hits Area 10

Skin Yard, Skin Yard 12

Drug Crazed Teens: Flaming Lips 14

Music That Passes the Acid Test 15

New Kids in the ‘90s: A Decade in the Life 18

Radiohead, The Bends 19

Walking into Spiderwebs: The Ultimate Band List 20

Talking World War III Blues 23

2. Alternative to What

Bombast in the Blood: Bad Religion 29

Conscience of Some Conservatives: The Ramones 32

Punk's First Family Grow Old Together: The Ramones 35

Howls from the Heartland: The Untamed Midwest 42

An Indie Rises Above: SST Records 48

Slime is Money (Bastard) 52

Big Black Give You a Headache 56

Nirvana, “all Apologies” 62

Wrong is Right: Marilyn Manson 64

Live: Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, 18 February 1997 68

City of Dreams: Rock in Mexico 69

Chumbawamba at the Piss Factory 76

Mr. and Mrs. Used To Be: The White Stripes Find a Little Place to Fight ‘em Off 79

3. Umlauts from Heck

Five Great Beats-Per-Minute 89

Seduce, Seduce 92

Agnostic Front, Beyond Possession, Dr. Know, Helstar, Raw Power 94

Top 40 That Radio Won‘t Touch: Metallica 98

Welcome Home (Sanitarium): Metallica Seek Psychiatric Help 104

Mentors, Up The Dose 106

Robert Plant, Technobilly 108

Def Leppard's Magic and Loss 116

AC/DC‘s Aged Currencies 124

White Wizzard Escape Each Other 137

4. To the Beat Y‘all

Mantronix: Strange Loops 143

Spoonie Gee: Unreformed 144

Just-Ice: Rap With Teeth 147

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1989: N.W.A. 149

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1992: Arrested Development 149

Sir Mix-A-Lot: Chief Boot Knocka 149

From Taco Bell to Pachalbel: Coolio 150

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1997: Erykah Badu and B-Rock & The Bizz 152

Timbaland, Magoo, and Ma$e, As the World Turns 153

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 2001: Jay-Z 157

Licks: Bone Crusher, Turk, Crunk & Disorderly 158

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 2003 160

5. Race-Mixing

Emmett Miller: The Minstrel Man from Georgia 167

Mississippi Sheiks vs. Utah Saints 168

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1984 170

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1985 170

Boogie Down Productions: Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip-Hop 172

Yothu Yindi: Tribal Voice 175

Living Colour: Biscuits EP 175

3rd Bass: Cactus Love 176

Teena Marie in Wonderland 178

Shake Your Love: Gillette 180

The Iceman Cometh Back: Vanilla Ice 183

Motor Suburb Madhouse: Kid Rock and Eminem 184

The Daddy Shady Show: Eminem‘s Family Values 196

Spaghetti Eastern: The Lordz of Brooklyn 206

6. Country Discomfort

Yippie Tie One On: Rural Roots and Muddy Boots 217

John Cougar Mellencamp: Life Goes On 222

K.T. Oslin: Greatest Hits: Songs from an Aging Sex Bomb 224

The Temptations of Mindy McCready 226

CMT 228

Banda, Si, Por Qué No 229

Big & Rich Boogaloo Down Broadway 233

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 2004: Montgomery Gentry and Chely Wright 235

Please Stop Belittling Toby Keith 236

Brad Paisley is Ready to Make Nice 240

7. Pop Muzik

Cutting It as a Bay City Roller in 1989 247

People Pleasers: The Village People 249

Arrivedérci, Bay-BEE: Nocera and Fun Fun 251

Debbie Gibson: Angel Baby 253

It Was In The Cards 255

Pet Shop Boys‘ Mad Behavior 256

Gimme Back My Bullets: Will to Power Shoot for Disco Valhalla 263

Michael Jackson Loves the Sound of Breaking Glass 267

If It Ain‘t Baroque, Don‘t Fix It: Michael Jackson and Faithless 273

They Know What They Really Really Want and They Know How to Get It: Spice Girls and Gina G 277

Pazz & Jop Ballot Excerpt 1998 281

8. Singles Again and Again

Sucking in the ‘70s: Have A Nice Day, Volumes 1–10 287

Zager and Evans: “In The Year 2525” 289

Radio ‘86: Dead Air 292

Radio On reviews 298

Ten Cents a Watusi 304

Singles Again: Tangled Up in Blue 309

Singles Again: Paranoia Jumps Deep 313

Singles Jukebox reviews 316

The Year of Too Much Consensus 322

The End? 325

Index 329
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5010-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4996-9
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