“I Hate New Music – The Classic Rock Manifesto” by Dave Thompson: Now there’s a title to grab one’s attention and get up a lot of people’s noses — and it’s something that author (and Goldmine stalwart) Dave Thompson has been doing effortlessly for years.
In classic pundit style, he tauntingly waves the red flag at the contemporary music scene and counter-intuitively stabs some of rock’s greatest icons in the back, before delivering an exquisitely executed coup de grace to the music industry as a whole.
The greatest of toreadors always have a large ax to grind with the bull, but a deep love of the sport itself, a love-hate relationship that also fuels “I Hate New Music — The Classic Rock Manifesto.”
The book’s subtitle is telling, for this is not a history of classic rock, although it partially works as a potted one, nor a critical analysis of the movement, even though there’s a great deal of analysis and criticism found within.
Instead, Thompson provides a critique of all that made a specific period of rock classic, explains its eventual destruction, and explores the reasons why rock is unlikely to reach such heady heights again.
What makes the book impossible to put down, however, is the author’s gonzo approach to the subject — laugh-out-loud funny, peppered with jokes and awash in wry amusement, irony and a touch of biting sarcasm. There’s whimsy as well, including the homage to Rocky & Bullwinkle chapter titles (e.g “Fat and Forty-plus, or Had Your Phil of Collins Yet?”) and brief chapter summaries pulled straight from the paws of Winnie the Pooh.
“New Music” is also totally subjective, delightfully idiosyncratic, tumbling so agilely from band to band and topic to topic, that every chapter’s end leaves readers asking, Wait a minute, how did we get from there to here? Or they would, if they had time, but they don’t, because the book’s flow is so fast, they’re already being dragged off in another direction entirely.
Thompson swaggers across the decades, tying together myriad disparate musical threads into a coherent, cogent discourse on rock’s greatest era and the barren wasteland that passes for the music scene today.
“I Hate New Music” is the literary equivalent of classic rock itself — daring, adventurous, witty, weird, wild, wonderful and extremely entertaining. It’s the kind of book you’ll be pushing at your friends to read, if only to have someone else to argue it over with.
Those arguments will fly from all sides, too, for Thompson doesn’t stop at excoriating the ’80s and beyond, but butchers numerous sacred classic cows as well; fans of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, beware. You name it, he dissects it: double sets, charity extravaganzas, stadium rock, concept albums, synthesizers, later musical movements, band reformations, and just about every classic rock group that mattered. That’s the text; there’s also a variety of opinionated and annotated Top 10/100 lists provided to get heated discussions under way.
Wildly dogmatic as “I Hate New Music,” but extremely well argued, Thompson has written a manifesto for the ages. A reminder that it may only have been rock ’n’ roll, but that rock once rocked our world, and even three decades on, we like it, like it, yes we do.
Hardcover, 250 pages, $22.95. Backbeat Books, www.backbeatbooks.com