ROCK TIL YOU DROP: The Decline from Rebellion to Nostalgia

John Strausbaugh, Author . Verso $22 (259p) ISBN 978-1-85984-629-2

Clever, angry and articulate, New York Press editor and longtime music critic Strausbaugh collects and expands his writings on "colostomy rock," 1960s-era rock music and its current milieu: "Rock simply should not be played by fifty-five-year-old men with triple chins wearing bad wighats, pretending to still be excited about playing songs they wrote... thirty-five years ago…. Its prime audience should not be middle-aged, balding, jelly-bellied dads." Calling rock a music of "youthful energies, youthful rebellion, youthful anxieties and anger," Strausbaugh says, "Colostomy rock is... the antithesis of rebellion: it's nostalgia. And nostalgia is the death of rock." He skewers some easy targets: the Rolling Stones' "Steel Wheelchairs tour... was a stadium spectacle... more like a football game"; Jefferson Airplane and the MC5 "made the media look and sound more cool, the better to market their products and their advertisers"; Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner "seems to have stopped liking or understanding the music by the mid-'70s"; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "is a multimillion-dollar monument to the sad fact that my generation has completely forgotten what makes rock cool or fun or even 'important.' " Like other angry music writers—Lester Bangs, Nick Tosches—Strausbaugh never bores. But his opening and closing chapters on general pop-culture issues and his abiding love for the music elevate this above mere anti-baby-boomer ranting. He differentiates himself from boomer critics like Robert Christgau and Greil Marcus: "I don't consider my liking or not liking new rock music relevant.... A man approaching fifty is… far out of the context in which new music is made and received." This intelligent, entertaining book should infuriate nostalgic boomers and delight anyone who cares about pop music. Photos. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-1-85984-486-1
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