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Is Rock Burning Out? Print-ready version

by Lynden Barber
Sydney Morning Herald
April 25, 1988
Original article: PDF

A lot of American music reflects media over-stimulation. A constant bombardment of imagery, information and commercial imperatives is causing extreme neurosis.

MTV recently featured an American fashion designer burbling happily about "burnouts"---kids burnt out by a life of tele-culture, with no ideals and interests except themselves and rock 'n' roll. MTV---itself a major cause of "burnout"---thought this rather droll.

The light entertainment of the River's Edge generation is full of death imagery: witness American speed-metal, whose bands have names like Slayer and Megadeth, and hard-core punk outfits like Suicidal Tendencies. The latter's best-selling hard-core LP (Suicidal Tendencies, Virgin) is the sound of youths trying to out-scream the white noise of TV madness. It's not my bucket of tea, but I admire a sense of determination this extreme. . . . [next two paragraphs omitted]

In other parts of the industry, the latest hare-brained corporate marketing strategy is the superfluous guest list aimed at perking up the profile of an album.

Take Joni Mitchell's new LP, Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm (Geffen), which features Peter Gabriel, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Bill Idol (God forbid!) and Wayne Shorter. With the exception of the latter, none is needed; the lesser-known supporting cast is perfectly in tune with Mitchell's muse, playing with a languid warmth. Those who call this "West Coast yuppie music" aren't listening; Mitchell's open-chord songs are filled with an aching sense of loss, though her inspiration fades towards the end...

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Added to Library on July 27, 2021. (1988)


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