WHAT IS THIS sophomoric obsession with didactic irony and moralism anyway? I mean, is this guy serious or what? I’ve heard of living in the past and all, but this Ackles fellow really takes the cake!
It’s 1972 and everybody knows anti-establishment and social criticism songs are dumb; ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ isn’t any good any more; the only thing that saves ‘Well Respected Man’ is the infantilism of “his own sweat smells the best” (post-literate/pre-high school kakaism at its finest); all that Sixties goody-goody stuff is as silly today as the beatniks on Perry Mason reruns. The naivete of a cultural eidos that permitted a dualistic view of the human universe and its resultant finger-pointing school of art has been crushed by the absolute non-dualism of today’s man-on-moon/red-line shift/people-trying-to-fix-trotter-races-with-laser-beams culture. The whole concept of moral hypocrisy is as out-dated as berets and bongos. Art doesn’t mean shit anymore.
And where does that leave David Ackles, with his pretentious two-years-since-the-last-album piece of atavistic Sunday School dooty? With his melancholy tales of ‘Mrs. Molly Jenkins’, who “sells her wares in town/…/Ah, but is she happy?/no, no, no/… /So, as she snuggles with a stranger/In some back-of-the-barroom bed…” And it goes on like that. Shame, shame, Mrs. Jenkins, you fuck strangers, tsk, tsk. Your husband “trades the milk for booze” (oh, po’ little Eva). This guy is anti-fuck, anti-booze and even anti-leg and anti-jerking-off (there’s mention of a poor fellow who procures girlie magazines to jerk off to, oh, loneliness, oh, guilt). Then, of course, there’s one of those fucking “I hear my old friend Jesus speak” songs (‘Family Band’). Jesus indeed. Bbbbbffft (fart noise). Send the sap back to his farm.
© Nick Tosches, Creem, October 1972