The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music, 1972-1993 by Nick Kent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Of course I remember Nick Kent. In the sense that I remember all those self-declared savants of the my youth: Paul Morley, Lester Bangs, Charles Shaar Murray, Paul du Noyer, Julie Burchill and of course Nick Kent. But I seldom remember which was which except Gary Bushell (because he was occasionally funny but more usually a complete tool) and Geoff Barton (because he alone championed my then-beloved heavy metal and wrote the highly misleading sleeve notes to my first Deep Purple album, which destroyed his credibility for me the moment I found out).
And what I realise now about Nick Kent is that he's not that good a writer. Not terrible, but largely unremarkable. As a young journalist he sat at the knee of the genius Lester Bangs, but all he seems to have learned was how to write at great length. These stories are almost novella-length, padded out with lengthy quotes but largely devoid of sparkling writing, apart from the occasional flourish. The word that springs to mind is 'workmanlike'. We have long narratives but little insight or poetic imagery to bring the music to life; nor much sympathy for the subjects under discussion.
So these tales are moderately interesting if you care about the subjects (though his cursory treatment of a then-disturbed Roky Erickson is frustratingly shallow and unsympathetic). He wants to tell stories, but he never shows much enthusiasm for his subject, which makes the exercise generally disappointing.
View all my reviews