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Chuck Eddy & the Holy Greil

By Phil Dellio

Greil Marcus and Chuck Eddy are critics that anyone interested in rock writing--anyone interested in rock'n'roll for that matter--should be reading. Some brief introductions.

Marcus, although he insists he's just a guy who writes a couple of columns, is almost certainly one of the most revered and influential critics around today. (As my conversation with Eddy was winding down, he suddenly asked out of the blue, "So what was it like talking to Greil?") Marcus has been writing for some 20 years, so there's a wealth of material I would refer you to: Mystery Train, the kind of book that could conceivably outlast rock'n'roll itself; Stranded, a collection of indispensable 'desert island' essays that Marcus edited and contributed a critical discography to; his essays on the Beatles, Girl Groups, Rock Films, and Punk included in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock 'n' Roll; his monthly Voice column, which covers Eddie Money, toy Godzillas, and other less bizarre subjects; his monthly Artforum column (soon to terminate) which will make you feel painfully stupid; and countless other odds and ends strewn across the pages of old Creems and Rolling Stones.

Eddy, who has emerged in the past three years as the Voice's most prolific contributor, is a critic I never miss even though I rarely agree with him about anything. Besides his monthly singles column in Creem Metal, Eddy's sharpest writing can be found in the following Voice pieces: "Howls From the Heartland," a tour through Midwestern grunge (Aug. 5, '86); "Dead Air," a vehement blast at the current state of radio (Jan. 6, '87); "Umlauts From Hell," which traces the evolution of surf music from the Beach Boys through Celtic Frost (Feb. 3, '87); and "Slime Is Money (Bastard)," a critique of rad-rock magazine Forced Exposure (March 31, '87). To explain why I love these Eddy pieces, I'd echo Marcus's words on Elvis Costello and the Mekons found below.

Marcus talks like he writes: orderly and concise. For him, I've used the interview format. Eddy also talks like he writes, something like his beloved Die Kreuzen: "all over the fucking place before you know it." So I've arranged Chuck's words into some semblance of categorization.


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Greil Marcus

Phil Dellio:   In the last [1985] Pazz & Jop poll, Tim Somner suggested the time has come for the '70s critics to bow out. How do you feel about the long-term domination of yourself, Bob Christgau, and Dave Marsh?

Greil Marcus:   I don't see myself in any sort of dominant position in any way--I just write a column and say what I think. Until I started the Voice column a year or so ago, I did it in a small-circulation art magazine, and before that in a magazine that wasn't circulated outside of California. All I'm doing is writing about stuff that continues to interest me in a very intense way. I'm still struggling to make sense of it and feeling vitalized by writing about it. But I don't consider myself a player in a game of taste-making, or any sort of a critical powerbroker or anything like that.

Phil's interview with Greil Marcus continues here...


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Chuck Eddy

Breaking Down Barriers

Damn right I try to subvert a readership's assumptions, no matter who I write for. I grew up not knowing what heavy metal was. I do know what loud guitars are. Sonic Youth, the Janitors, Squirrel Bait, they all have loud guitars. So the people who read Creem Metal should like that kind of music. The problem is, heavy metal is not a kind of music anymore--it's a marketing term. The paradox is that heavy metal listeners are probably about the most open-minded people out there, for a couple of reasons. Number one, speed metal had just opened the door between metal and punk--the stuff just goes back and forth. So if I tell the kids who read Creem Metal about Sonic Youth, I would assume that for a lot of them it makes just as much sense as somebody else telling them about Suicidal Tendencies. The other reason is, even the pop-metal stuff, which I don't really like--bands like Poison and Motley Crue--where they take off from is T. Rex and Slade and Sweet. One of the most ridiculous things I've heard in the last couple of months is that Red Kross, who have their album being distributed by a major label, are touring with the Butthole Surfers. They ought to be touring with Poison--they'd be huge. They draw on the exact same kind of music as Poison and Motley Crue and those bands do. Somebody's messing up somewhere. But to answer your question, yeah, I want to expose people who read Creem Metal to everything from Run-D.M.C. to the Janitors.

Phil's interview with Chuck Eddy continues here...