Alan Licht, Author, Alan Light, Author . Drag City $11.98 (76p) ISBN 978-0-9656183-3-5

Despite the title's invocation of the early MTV "VJ," this book is nothing less than a treatise on the decline and fall of rock music as a viable artistic and cultural medium—and an enormously smart and entertaining one at that. Licht is a highly regarded guitarist, from his work with late '80s slack rockers Love Child (which included later gURL founder Rebecca Odes) to his collaborations with many of experimental music's leading lights, including Loren Mazzacane Connors. He divides the book into two essay-length sections. The first establishes Licht's demographic—his first hits of Quinn-era MTV were during his middle school years in suburban New Jersey—and quickly moves on to dead-on, song-by-song reconsiderations of the channel's fodder at the time: "Thompson Twins, 'Lies': More good pop from three bad haircuts." Section two recreates the now-defunct genre of New York rock and the institutions that supported it, from CBGB to the New Music Distribution Service, linking its demise to gentrification. Licht then brilliantly explicates the "Clintonization of Rock," whereby rock explicitly dropped its us-against-them attitude in a manner exactly analogous to Clinton's cutting and pasting of liberal, conservative and populist issues and ideas with equal parts Kennedy, Carter and FDR; the result, Licht argues, was grunge. Written for survivors of the '80s and '90s rock scene and for anyone who cares about popular music and wants it to mean something, this little b&w book, with its wry and rueful looks back yet open and hopeful looks forward, may help shape a small rock renaissance. (May)

Forecast:Drag City is a well-known independent record label based in Chicago. Expect steady sales from North American indie music shops, but also significant orders via the Web from overseas, where Licht has a solid audience.

Reviewed on: 04/15/2002
Release date: 02/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 76 pages - 978-0-9656183-4-2
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