Kick Out the Jams: Jibes, Barbs, Tributes, and Rallying Cries from 35 Years of Music Writing

S. & S. Audio. Aug. 2023. 10:04 hrs. ISBN 9781797160788. $23.99. MUSIC
In this dynamic compilation of his essays and reviews, veteran rock-music critic Marsh’s trenchant writing is paired with the ideal narrator—character actor and Audie Award–winning narrator Dennis Boutsikaris. In this collection, Marsh champions lesser-known artists, particularly women and people of color, such as Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo, and Dorothy Love Coates. The compilation also offers piercing commentary on censorship, a personal exploration of grief and music after the death of Marsh’s stepdaughter, and meditations on music’s changing landscape in the internet age. Marsh tackles bigger-named artists, with an examination of Kurt Cobain’s death by suicide and the legacies of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. His harshest jeers are for so-deemed hypocrites—Bono, Al Gore, and others he calls out for distorting music’s best intentions for profit and power. The pieces included here hail from publications big and small, showcasing the breadth of Marsh’s writing. Boutsikaris’s narration captures the author’s enthusiasm and occasionally high-handed style with a seamlessly conversational tone. His delivery never rushes but proceeds at a measured pace, infusing every aside with a well-placed smirk or an eye roll.
VERDICT For listeners interested in reexamining musical gatekeeping, Marsh’s writing and Boutsikaris’s delivery provide a portrait of the music industry that goes well beyond the usual fare.
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