Friday, June 6, 2014

Rockcritocracy 1970-1971/Ben Edmond's Hair/Jonathan Richman on Schmucky Stage Performers/The Great 1970 Fusion Funhouse Debate [Repost from December 2010]

The socratic method of teaching was in full force when I was in law school last century. In rock criticism, not so much, eh? However, we do have an example of some serious Paper Chase styled socratic battling - by honest to goodness Bostonians no less - slugging it out over perhaps the greatest lp of 1970. At some later date, I will argue with one and all that pre-mustachio Gordon Lightfoot's "Sit Down Young Stranger" captures the ennui of 1970 on personal terms just as valid as Iggy's or Altman's Brewster McCloud. Some forty years on, I equate 1970 with Johnny Bench, "L.A. Blues," "If You Could Read My Mind" and the Astrodome.

Who are these Bostonians tackling the Stooges in real time? Well none other than Jonathan Richman and Ben Edmonds. For historians, these are primary source documents. I have included them many times in bound readers for my pre-punk history of American music course. I haven't seen the Robert Matheu Stooges book and unless a copy is going to be air dropped into the bush and/or money lent, I won't see one soon. This "debate" may in fact be reprinted therein so do let me know. From the barn archive, Fusion Magazine 1970, courtesy of Chris over twenty years ago, and boat freighted to the other side of the planet for your enjoyment NOW. Chris always seemed to take Richman's review as a total pan. I guess it turns into a mild ad hominem attack on Iggy at the end but even that is tempered somewhat. American icon Ron is given much praise. WHOA Jonathan, not many people can say that they got off the Stooges bandwagon by 1970 because they didn't like "Funhouse" as much as the first lp and because Iggy's "schtick" got old. Jonathan is one smart cookie as he reads the tea leaves and sees the the blowback excitement of "Metallic K.O." three years early. As to the Christopher Milk ad dug up from a barn archive copy of RPM ordered from the Shaws decades ago , yeah Mendelssohn is pictured in the great rock crit shot from an early 1971 Phonograph magazine and I dug the first half of the "I, Caramba" book. A Davies fan for all time as well.


  1. Funhouse is fine (lol) but I have to agree with Jonathan that it's a little bit of a let down after their debut. Might even prefer Raw Power and associated singles/EPs (I Got A Right, etc). Never could figure out why the hive mind thinks Funhouse is their pinnacle achievement.


  2. Check out "Jonathan Richmond" list of favorite 60s records in Jan. 1970 Fusion: his favorite was "Mr. Farmer."