Elevated (strung up?) as the newest breed of rock’n’roll hero — martyred chronicler — Lester Bangs was a timely victim for the perennial personality cult, which seized upon his accidental death in April 1982 to resurrect his seminal rock writing for a new fanzine audience. By turns introspective and scathing, his dissection of music was frequently intense and insightful, occasionally misguided and paltry, but it was always soul-searching and achingly personal, crypto-musical characteristics that have endeared him to subsequent generations and which, not surprisingly, infuse his own recorded work.
Following the nakedly bleary emotion of his “Let It Blurt” 45 (with backing by members of the Patti Smith Group, Voidoids and Raybeats), Bangs somehow hooked up with the Delinquents (Texas version), locally infamous for relinquishing their sociopathic vocalist Layna Pogue to a quiet room with rubber walls. That brief intersection yielded an LP not unlike Richard Hell’s first — if recorded impromptu during second rehearsal, with Hank Williams and Pere Ubu puppeteering overhead. Classic or erratic, depending on your skew of vision.
The Delinquents also released a self-titled LP sans frontperson, with the guitarists sharing vocals atop vaguely B-52’sish new wave surf. After they disbanded, bassist/Live Wire boss Brian Curley went on to work with yet another certifiably abnormal intellect, Roky Erickson, in Evil Hook Wildlife ET., before forming 27 Devils Joking.
In 1986, Birdland denigrated the Bangs legend with its posthumous reflection on Lester’s band of the same name, a group with ties (through guitarist Mickey Leigh) to the Rattlers. Basically pop with dulled hooks, even Lester’s jagged vocals and lyrics seem to have lost all edge and point, not least in the remakes (from Jook Savages) of the previously nervy “I’m in Love with My Walls” and “Accidents of God.”