What do you think of all the bad reviews your 1994 book Rock on the Wild Side got?

Rock on the Wild SideWell, it got at least as many good reviews as bad reviews,* though I have to confess that some of the bad ones were really nasty. (Those British critics can be murder!) But, as they say, no publicity is bad publicity.

To be honest, I fully expected to get some strongly negative reviews for Rock on the Wild Side on account of my savaging of certain rock icons and critics' darlings, such as the Velvet Underground, a band I've never cared for. Certain reviewers seemed to take particular umbrage at some of the misgivings I expressed about David Bowie—an artist whom I actually count among my favorites, but about whom I do have serious reservations concerning the "gay angle" of his glam years. Similarly, I had a number of less than glowing things to say about another of my favorite acts, Queen, and I even took a few jabs at the Beatles, whose music I love and whom I personally regard as the greatest band of the Rock Era. I do pride myself on my objectivity.

At any rate, hey, if I can dish it out, I have to be willing to take it. Besides, Neil and Chris received their own share of nasty reviews for their musical Closer to Heaven, so I consider myself in excellent company. I always try to remember the following words of wisdom from the renowned Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede: "If nobody disagrees, you have no message."

Now, after all this time, I'm also highly gratified that more than one writer has retrospectively referred to Rock on the Wild Side as "pioneering." Yes, it was that, I'm proud to say, whatever else one may have thought of it.


*One of the best reviews—probably the one I'm most proud of—appeared in the September 7, 1994 issue of Ireland's Hot Press magazine. Music journalist Joe Jackson (no, not the famed singer-songwriter whom I also count among my favorites) wrote of Rock on the Wild Side, "Potentially, it is one of the most important socio-political and musical studies published in the history of rock." Wowza! Had I gotten a few more reviews like that I might have buckled down and written some more books!