Margot Mifflin
November 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bat Chain Puller: Rock & Roll in the Age of Celebrity

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kurt Loder
publisher
St. Martin's Press
genre
Music, Nonfiction

We gave it a C

The back cover of this book’s jacket bills it as ”an irreverent look at popular culture in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson’s A Generation of Swine and Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces.” Not so. Loder, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and current MTV news anchor, has neither Thompson’s caustic wit nor Marcus’ analytic resolve.

Bat Chain Puller is, more accurately, a collection of colorfully written features on rockers, from the overexposed — Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan — to the underappreciated: Loder deserves credit for his profile of Ted Hawkins, a long-neglected bluesman, and for his tribute to Captain Beefheart, whose brilliantly wobbly compositions in the ’70s surpassed Frank Zappa’s in eccentricity (and whose 1978 album provided the title of this book). Loder is not a critical thinker, but he’s a good historian and an evocative writer — and about as irreverent as Barry Manilow singing ”Mandy” at a Girl Scout convention. C

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