ROCK ’TIL YOU DROP by John Strausbaugh
Kirkus Star


The Decline from Rebellion to Nostalgia
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A splendidly ill-tempered assault on the music industry, nostalgic boomers, and rock stars who refuse to die.

Strausbaugh, the 50ish editor of the New York Press, establishes an axiom at the outset: “Rock is youth music.” His chief targets are therefore the doddering stars of old who, half a lifetime ago, had hits with gummy tunes such as “Hang on Sloopy” and “Young Girl”—and, for that matter, “Satisfaction”—and now, decades later, continue to trot them out for their fellow grayhairs by way of some mass refusal to acknowledge that none of them is young anymore. Fond of gory details, Strausbaugh exhibits for our consideration the case of Kim Simmonds, guitarist for the ’70s British blues-rock band Savoy Brown, who took a bunch of ringers out on tour a couple of years back to squeeze whatever dollars he could from whatever remained of his constituency. “He looked about seventy-five,” Strausbaugh writes, “with one of those terrifyingly runny melting-cheese faces old British guys get from a lifetime of hoisting pints.” Simmonds is not alone, and neither is he the worst of the lot; Strausbaugh gleefully name-checks a phalanx of geezers—Jethro Tull, Yes, the Allman Brothers, and the once-mighty Rolling Stones—who have no business prancing and preening like teenagers, but whose business it is to do so all the same. Business is good, he continues, because the children of the ’60s and ’70s, steeped in nostalgia and bent on recapturing the “magic” of their teen years, refuse to admit that they’re now the enemy; artist and audience are complicit in mass denial exercised in the form of an unholy musical genre that Strausbaugh terms “colostomy rock.” If you’re a fan of latter-day Bowie or the Boss, you’ll likely be irritated by Strausbaugh’s scattershot attack on your heroes—which means, Strausbaugh would probably say, that he’s done his job.

Either way, it’s a fine piece of punk journalism, and a barrel of laughs for like-minded readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-85984-629-7
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Verso
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001


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