“At least every few pages readers might come across a juicy snippet, whether fact or opinion, and maybe think, Hey, you can’t say that” – this is my favorite line from Kerrie Hickin’s item on Stranded in the May/June issue of Rhythms, which I think is quite a perceptive little piece, and which I’m taking as flattering and with all appreciation (read it here). But this whole thing about me being so contentious and opinionated? I think more than anything it’s a reflection not on me but on just how lame and fence-sitting so much so-called music ‘criticism’ has been for a long time.
Nobody ever called Lester Bangs opinionated, and while I was loathe to say that for fear I’ll be pegged as even more conceited – comparing myself to the Great Master! – I can’t win anyway and so I said it (“You can’t say that!”) because it’s a fact that like Uncle Lester I have always had a vision for what makes music great and have never been afraid of calling it out when I don’t think it’s great… I mean, what are music critics for? To not warn you against the shit you shouldn’t waste your time (and money) on? To not alert you to the good shit? At least, that’s what I thought it was for. And I also think Stranded has turned on as many people (all round the world) as it hasn’t – and is still doing so with this new edition 25 years after the first, which I think is a pretty good result, just to still be here after that long…