Richard Hell

Go Now

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This spoken-word disc features New York City punk legend Richard Hell reading from his novel Go Now over a bed of typically jarring electric guitar work from ex-Voidoids/Lou Reed/Matthew Sweet downtown noise guitarist Robert Quine. Most of the 21-minute-and-34-second, one-track recording consists of Hell, in first-person stream of consciousness mode, relating the daily routine of a severely neurotic heroin addict. His writing is vibrant and direct, and manages to treat a now clich├ęd topic with humanity and style. While Hell's plainspoken delivery is at first off-putting, it soon emerges as the perfect vehicle for his intensely descriptive, seemingly autobiograhical narrative. His laid-back style and slight Kentucky twang at times recalls John Cale's chilling, Welsh-accented recitation on "The Gift" from the Velvet Underground's classic White Light/White Heat. Quine's sublime guitar playing serves as a perfectly tasteful and understated foil, always complementing, but never overwhelming, the reading. In a time when Henry Rollins' (not to mention Jewel's) success has caused every musician who ever fancied himself or herself a poet to unleash amateurish ramblings on a gullible, chronically dumbed-down America, it's great to hear a rock performer who actually has a flair for genuine literature and has something to say worth hearing. Any fan of musician-produced spoken word that aspires to be something more than bad, hipster-approved standup comedy should check out this disc.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 21:34
blue highlight denotes track pick