After reading Mark Antal's letter published April 21, I wanted to stick up for Bill Wyman. The reason Bill is attacked in so many letters is that music criticism involves OPINION, and Bill has no problem expressing his. He doesn't necessarily flow with the consensus, and because of that, I look forward to reading his column and hearing his radio show. Most of the letters Antal refers to came from blind die-hard fans of bands like the Rolling Stones, who can't really take a look at how badly their heroes are embarrassing themselves. It's time to kill your idols, kids.
I grew up in Cincinnati where the premier critic of music was the Enquirer's Cliff Radel, who I hope is well known by his peers as the biggest industry suck-up of all time. If he bothered to write anything, it was a huge feature on the Rolling Stone's fabulous new album or the yearly special Jimmy Buffett Pull-Out Section. I never once saw a story about a local band until they were nationally well known (Afghan Whigs and the Ass Ponys) or playing the same bar in Cincinnati for 50 years (H-Bomb Ferguson). Every year his top-ten list would come out and it would list the top ten best-selling albums of the year: Huey Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Lionel Ritchie, and all that crap. I'm sure Radel never went to Bogart's, Sudsy Malones, the Jockey Club, or Murphy's Pub in his life, and he ignored a pretty great regional scene that is just now finally getting its due (Squirrel Bait, Slint, the Whigs, Chrome Cranks, etc).
Bill is an expert in rock 'n' roll, I've never seen a single factual error in any of his writing, and he knows his classic rock and mainstream rock better than most people who write only about such bands. If people don't agree with what he writes, that's fine. I don't always, but whatever you do, please, please, please, DON'T kill his column. It is the first thing that my friends and I look at when picking up a Reader, and like him or not, he's always engaging. He is a large part of the reason Chicago HAS a scene. Say what you will about hype, but it always works, and Bill has done wonders to help out deserving bands and shoot down the big egos. He is a writer who makes no compromises and writes about his personal love of music, and he doesn't owe anyone an apology for that.
Thanks, Bill. Don't let the bastards bring you down, and remember, as Andrew Loog Oldham said, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." That oughtta shut up the Stones' fans.
Bryan O. Bedell