Rock crits are odd birds—well, me excepted of course (of course!)—and the landscape of their realm is oft informed in tones of grey and ochre rather than more resplendent hues. While some of my 'compeers' over the decades were pursuing the constant decay of the Marsh / Christgau / Gabarini / Young / etc. School Of Sell-Out during the late 70s and 80s, I was tracking down Dean Suzuki, Chris Welch, and others, gents who had more serious writing skills and deeper aesthetic qualities. Everyone flashed on Lester Bangs, but the guy was vastly overlauded and soon a wreck. Then there was Richard Meltzer.
Meltzer was a proto-type, and proto-types always suffer, meant to be refined and replaced from the git-go. He was also at least nominally a monkeywrencher, which is always provocative and interesting, but such an estate is usually just an attention-getting device rather than a statement such as Abby Hoffman was skilled at making. One of the very first rock scribes in America, he penned the seminal Aesthetics of Rock as a college exercise and quickly moved on to other realms (experimental prose artist, writer of novels, architecture critic, etc.). The music tome mattered for just so long, and then Nick Carducci wrote the only true book of rock criticism ever printed, Rock and the Pop Narcotic, a flawed masterpiece, and incinerated all previous pensées while mooting future issuances. Meltzer's star plummeted regardless. 'Ere long, he faded into oblivion well before anyone could ask "Whatever happened to…"—because, um, no one much cared. Getting an idea of how this review will run?
In Spielgusher, Mike Watt, Yuko Araki, and Hirotaka Shimizu play music over The Melt's 2004 and 2008 rambling, sloppy, barbled, childishly scatalogical 'naughty' lyrics, and the total, even when cubed, is a good deal less than the sum of its parts. The music's quite enticing in a Devo/neo/avant vein but manifestly fails to rescue Meltzer's drunknaciously lobotomized set of plaints and braggadocio. Where the guy's past history placed him somewhere in a DaDa vein, this incarnation sees him sailing over the troubled waters of vapid clichés, pointless meandering, and pseudo-poetic amorphousness, everything a candidate for vanity press bookshelves and the sort of dimension Irwin Chusid writes about.
If you like this sort of thing, I'd recommend instead the prog-psyche efforts with Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, and others, maybe even Laurie Anderson. Those individuals reward the time and expense far more abundantly, though in certain phases a trifle wanting, and in Anderson's case a good deal more than that. Though Meltzer's trying to be another Bukowski, he's not even on the same continent. File the aging lad in with all the decaying sloboons who still think they write like Hunter Thompson, all and sundry being fish of a feather.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles