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Dave Marsh


Dave Marsh is an American music critic.

The term punk rock was coined by Dave Marsh, who used it to describe the music of ? and the Mysterians in the May 1971 issue of Creem magazine.

From 1985-2002, Marsh was one of Playboy magazine's regular music critics.

He has performed in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band that includes Stephen King, Amy Tan, and other writers. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Marsh [Mar 2006]


For me, though, Dave Marsh outclasses them all, as both writer and critic. Over a career that stretches back to the late Sixties, the Detroit-born, staunchly blue-collar, fervently leftist Marsh has been a literary trailblazer, from cofounding the seminal rock rag Creem (in which he coined the term "punk" as a genre moniker) to his determined commentary on censorship, politics, music, and the people who make it and write about it. http://weeklywire.com/ww/08-02-99/memphis_book.html -- John Floyd
Anyway, I only wrote a few record reviews during Marcus's year as editor. When Jon Landau came in in Oct. 1970 as the new review editor, he immediately pegged me as a guy who liked "English pop" (of the Badfinger, Raspberries type) and hard rock/heavy metal. He had a gap in those categories (for reviewers) or something. And actually I'm a little ahead of myself here...it was later in the May 1971 Creem, reviewing the first Sir Lord Baltimore album (released the first week of Feb 1971, just two weeks ahead of Sabbath's Paranoid, so let's figure the review of my promo copy was typed up in Feb. in my Univ of Texas at Austin dorm room), that I threw down the phrase "heavy metal" in its first use in the rock press ever (outside of the Steppenwolf lyric) as a descriptive term. Yep, all blame and shame goes to me. That was also the Creem issue where Dave Marsh coined the phrase "punk rock" in a column about seeing a Question Mark & The Mysterians club gig... something was definitely in American's drinking water that month. taken from http://rockcritics.com/metal_mike_interview.html, an online interview with Mike Saunders by Scott Woods

SCOTT:     I was going to ask you about disco.

DAVE:     In the long run do I think punk was more important than disco? I think in the long run the way the punks who survived as musicians mainly sustained themselves was by taking ideas from funk and disco. I think that answers the question right there. And do I think that the revolution in white rock 'n' roll, or in part of white rock 'n' roll, that happened in England and was stillborn in the United States with punk, approaches the significance of the rise of rap music? That's a silly idea. It seems to be the idea that has animated much of rock criticism for the last 20 years, but it's an absurd idea, I mean, it's just ludicrous.

SCOTT:     It seems like your own feelings about disco at the time were kind of complicated.

DAVE:     My feelings about everything at ALL times is pretty complicated. [Laughs] Here's what happened. I wrote a piece about some of the r&b vocal groups that had been desperately trying to make disco -- Archie Bell & the Drells. And Vince Aletti wrote a brilliant rejoinder to it in the Voice, which totally changed my mind about what was going on. And really -- I think I may have called Vince [Aletti] and apologized. I remember doing something like that. And then of course the other thing that happened was that horrible pogrom at the Detroit Tigers / Chicago White Sox game with those racist disc jockeys. Then I think the OTHER thing was -- it's in The Heart of Rock and Soul -- I went to Yankee stadium before opening day, must've been '78 or '79, the year of the Reggie Bar. And Reggie Jackson's doing batting practise and he's hitting ball after ball into the right field stands, and while this is happening the record that's playing at full volume over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers is "Disco Inferno." Well, you know, I argue with lots of things, but I do not argue with my ears.

     And when you hear -- disco music is a music that -- and house is like that and some of the techno and stuff that's derived from techno -- is that you HAVE to hear it in the right context or you CAN'T get it. I remember Arthur Baker being astonished, because I'm not a clubgoer and I liked the first house records that he played for me. And I liked them because I understood the ostinato piano figures as being basically a sped-up version of Chicago blues, which they are. But that was a fluke. In general, you're going to have an experience that snaps you out of your context and INto the context of that music. I can hear free jazz very easily -- not to say that I understand it or write about it well, but I HEAR it, take pleasure in it, and have some concept of what's going on because of all those Sun Ra / MC5 shows. I have been in that world long enough to know, right? And sometimes that's truer than other times. Early reggae you didn't need that, or at least I didn't, because you could rely on some parts of your r&b thing to get you through. Dancehall, you're gonna have to work harder, it's as simple as that.

http://www.rockcritics.com/Marsh_punk_disco.html Dave Marsh in an interview with Scott Woods

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