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Frank Kogan

Related: music journalism - American literature


Frank Kogan is the editor of Why Music Sucks, which he started ten years ago by asking (among other things), why does or doesn't music suck?, but now asks (among other things), why does or doesn't high school suck? I'm describing Why Music Sucks as a 'zine--a very interesting 'zine, which it is--but really, Why Music Sucks is (to steal a Frank-ism) a WORLD. A world full of terror, joy, sorrow, music, self-critique, social analysis, hallway intellectualizing, classroom brawling, post-teen exuberance and trauma--the whole (or as much of the whole as you could expect from a 'rock publication') shebang. (You can get yourself a copy of the current WMS by sending $7 U.S. to: Frank Kogan, PO Box 9761, Denver CO 80209-0761, USA)

Black music

I once wrote a controversial review for Spin—that no one ever commented on—about James Brown where I claimed, in effect, that rather than being a "root" or a "source" of the present in black music, he was instead—and more interestingly—an indigestible problem for modern r&b and hip-hop. His funk had become the putative format for a lot of black music, but it was a format that no one could quite use. Funk at its invention was really extreme; everything became rhythm, foreground became background and vice versa, nothing simply supported a "lead" instrument or singer. The vocals were drumbeats, the drums punctuated and completed the vocals. The horns and guitars were staccato percussion. The beats were not evenly spaced: Instead, even more than in the rest of rhythm and blues, everything was in complementary note clusters, no instrumental part replicating another, each tumbling over the others in a perpetual-motion machine. Basically anything by James Brown from "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" onward (r&b number one, pop number eight, 1965) that wasn't a ballad fits this pattern. And most everything in "funky" black music since then has been something of a compromise or an amalgam—people wanting the funk but also wanting the song on top or the rap on top. http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0002/kogan.php

New York Dolls

“In the meantime, any time the New York Dolls played within a 150-mile radius or something like that I would go see them… I don’t think I actually saw them until [the first LP] was out, but I was reading the Village Voice and they reported on them. The Dolls always got very mixed press — the Voice was giving them good press, and Creem, but everyone else was saying ‘This is utter garbage and trash and they’re only doing it for the money.’ A really weird thing to say.” -— Frank Kogan interviewed by Scott Woods -- http://web.pitas.com/tashpile

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