Saturday, May 07, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Hey gang, guess what TODAY marks the first anniversary of? If you said the shedding of Dave Lang's spiny sheath you'd be wrong...close perhaps but wrong. Naw, today marks the first anniversary of the BLOG TO COMM weblog and if I must say so I gotta admit that this blog certainly isn't a job well done (especially compared with all dem fancy ones that you can look upon these dayze complete w/spiffy graphics and pix an' all that), but I guess for now it'll do considering what a computer un-savvy bloghead I've turned out to be. But hey, it's an occasion to be momentous about, so why not light a candle, an M-80, your bowel-gas etc. in honor of this lame attempt to enlighted you ignoramuses in more ways than one.

Anyway in celebration of such a special and oh-so-gooey occasion I had planned a great huge big stinking post for your non-pleasure crammed to the gills with reviews of every great shard of sonic obscufration (I made that word up, snazzy hunh?) to pass my ears since the last posting but GUESS WHAT??? There hasn't been anything new to pass my ears since the last 'un and reviews of promotional items sent me o'er the past few week (such as the Fearless Leader CD on Gulcher) will have to wait another post or two because I want them to gestate a little more in my psychotropic mind before I commit any opinions to type, me wanting to be fair and all to the quarry in question natch! So for now we'll have to celebrate the seventh with a nice (and informative as usual) li'l review of one of those GOLDEN AGE OF FANZINES rags that I touted as being so much superior to the eighties/nineties ones (y'know, that period in time way-too-many consider the "real" fanzine GA!) in my last posting, which you can read easily by just mousing down the page again since I don't wanna insult your intelligence and link it up like I do everything else on this blog!

Fanzine in question: SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE #16, a publication which I have written about many times before (scroll down for at least one of my SEVEN reviews of this should-be-legendary fanzoonie) and will continue to write about as long as these rarities make their way to my abode and I feel the need to document them before they're totally lost to history like way too many other things I'd for sure like to know about! For the uninitiated: SSG was a "genzine" (not bound to any specific artist or particular rock style) that came outta the University of Buffalo in En Why State that was edited by future Bomp scribe Gary Sperrazza! (exclamation point mandatory) and contributed to by such seventies fanzine mavericks as Bernard Kugel (future BIG STAR creator and a man deserving of his own posting) and Jymn Parrett of DENIM DELINQUENT fame amongst others. A student-funded publication that was available for FREE on the campus of this great institute of higher learning (everyone else hadda pay!) SSG was a pub that you could say was "erratic" in many ways...some issues (like the Montreal rock special back when pundits were hinting at a Quebecois revolution in pop against the Cleveland onslaught of the Raspberries and their kin) just didn't cut the mustard, while others like the one with the Lester Bangs leftover schpiel on how to be a rock critic which eventually got repro'd in the Jim DeRogatis bio seemed to hit paydirt. It was a chance-y affair but it was still worth it especially if it was a freebie, and in all the mere existence of a SSG was only proof that although the seventies rock scene seemed to be a big dog turd especially compared to all the fun and games that went down a decade earlier, on the pro and fanzine levels the energy was being pumped out full-tilt, or at least it was if you were looking in the right direction.

Anyway, this particular issue of SSG is one that I am especially cherishing as we speak (or shall I say as I type!) because I've been looking for a copy of it for well over 23 years! Yes, this issue of SSG is more or less (perhaps "less" but I don't mind) their "punk rock issue," and for a guy who missed out on a lotta the proto-punk musings and at a time when I sure coulda USED them (especially in the face of the adolescent brain-crunching that was being enforced on me thanks to a load of hapless authority!) I wanted it all the more even if the scribings therein were then bordering on the ten-year past-due mark. Besides, the cover shot (repro'd in an old WHO PUT THE BOMP) was tantalizing enough with these Rocky Horror lips upon the head of a guitar protruding from a grave, tombstone marked with the monikers of such past worthies as the Raiders, Sonics, Shadows of Knight, Standells, Chocolate Watchband, Byrds, Monkees... Hey, even at that late date when NUGGETS consciousness had drilled many hefty inroads into my beanie these groups remained massive mysteries and the more I could find out about 'em the better!

You gotta remember, back in those pre-internet/record-collecting magazine days any shard of garage band information was treated like a clipping from Sky Saxon's beard. Heck, I hardly knew anything about these groups other'n from what I could find via THE MUSIC INDEX, Lillian Roxon or the liner notes to NUGGETS, and I remember the biggest thrill I could get w/regards to these proto-punk bozos back in '79 was jumping for joy if their names popped up in a record collecting guide or a brief rundown concerning some reissue appeared in a mail order catalog! Even Robot Hull's punk history in the post-Bangs CREEM came off like the epic of the year in those rock-laden times, and for a bub who thought he was the ONLY person who knew and cared about this dribble within a 50 mile radius, these li'l things meant a whole hunka LOT amongst the flea market hopping and garage fantasizing that was going on way back when.

To make a short story digressed into a long one even longer, let me just say that the arrival of this particular issue of SSG is one of my long-held rock & roll dreams COME TRUE, on par with finally hearing Rocket From The Tombs' take of "Sonic Reducer" and the 1965 Velvet Underground, not to mention getting hold of copies (real or xeroxed) of all those other seventies fanzines that some people think I babble on too much about. But you say, what exactly is in this SSG I have desired for so long a time? Read on, and you will see (to be cornball about it).

Well unfortunately, unlike what you might be led to believe by looking at the cover's tombstone, there are NOT separate articles on the groups mentioned therein at all, or at least the punkier amongst them. However, there is a great two-page feature on sixties punk written by the once-omnipresent Metal Michael Saunders which deals with these garageoids in question. A fine piece too, which besides reprinting then-crucial album covers we've seen over and over by now (but back in '74 these must've been as awe-inspiring as looking at Stooges sleeves!) tells us in fine Saunders-ese which of the six-ohs were the best-ohs and I must 'fess up to the fact that it looks as if Saunders' opinions here seem about as on-target with regards to dealing with sixties-punk as an important trash aesthetic that even I (who has read this same message over and over again for the past umpteen years) must genuflect in the light of Saunders' genius. Lots of opinions true, but they are opinions you can certainly osmose to being the fine mid-Amerigan slob you just hafta be listening to the Standells over and over again year after year especially when there are those all-important MR. ED reruns you should be watching. And it's revelatory too...here's but one interesting factoid re. the Thirteenth Floor Elevators post-Rusk State Hospital and Saunders' experience of their live appearances:

"Look, it's like, uh, suppose ya saw The Stooges live in 1973 without ever having heard their records. You'd flip! And the Elevators, yeah, it's the same thing cause they're infinitely better than their old albums, and Rocky (sic) Erickson is one of the greatest singers of all time! He doesn't do anything on stage, just wears a floor length psychedelic cape and sings in the most nasal shriek you've ever heard. It sounds kinda like the last thirty seconds of 'You're Gonna Miss Me.' I thought he was going crazy! The new material was excellent too."


It's little tidbits of anarcho-rock ecstacy such as this which makes or breaks a good slab of rock scribing as energy, and if you can't relate to that maybe there's something less intense for your dribbling mind to comprehend. Just don't look for it in this issue of SSG.

Also in #16...a piece on the Byrds/Buffalo Springfield and California rock in general by SSG regular Dave Meinzer that I haven't read yet because I like to save the less-enthralling stuff for last (not that the Byrds and BS are less-enthralling though maybe compared with sixties punk they are...it's just that I know how that story's gonna end up and I gotta admit that the thought of Crosby Stills and Gnash as some cohesive endpoint in that entire game makes me wanna toss my salad!). Kugel's Monkees piece is pretty hot though...even better than the one Ken Barnes did for BOMP! two years later and not just because Barnes turned out to be a disco freak and Kugel didn't. (Of course, the neat cartoon that accompanies the thing helped, especially the references to Jimi H. opening their shows ["Mike can light his wool hat on fire"]). Then there are the album writeups which are always something to look forward to, especially since SSG took their review-section cue from CREEM while 'most everyone else was aping STONE and instead of a lotta intellectual fawning ya get to read loads of hot opinions that are even hotter than the records that are being grilled by SSG's usual gang of idiots. Extra points go to Sperrazza! for relying on the old gonzo trick of comparing his early-mid-seventies quarry in question to (in this case) the MC5 and Stooges. The tune in question this time is Hawkwind's "Paradox" offa HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL, and if you think this review didn't "inspire" me to seek out a CD of the album in question since my turntable has been dead for well over a year, well you've certainly haven't been reading this blog (or any of my writings for that matter) CLOSELY for over the past twentysome years. But judging from some of the comments re. me and my mag I've come across in that time, VERY FEW people have been reading closely all those years so why should I be surprised?

So sports, if you wonder why I think that the seventies breed of rock scribism/fanzine is so superior to most writing (even the good stuff) that has come out since, maybe this post'll give you a li'l inkling if any. It's too bad that this "Golden Age" of rock fandom has been kept under the covers for so long while loads of big gun critics and blogomites get all the goo and glory for doing things that in comparison are so half-assed you wonder why Chuck Eddy hasn't been lynched yet, but like I've said before what else can ya expect especially in these days when boredom and triteness is rewarded and the good high energy stuff whether it be in music or rock writing goes on ignored. Maybe someday there'll be a big coffee-table book just brimming with the classic rock pro/fanzine scribblings from the likes of the SSG staff and their under-the-counterculture brethren, but don't go on exactly holding your breath (or thinking this post is going to be some great catalyst spurring on a movement to make the forgotten fanzine writers of the past just as honored and looked up upon as Robert Christgau!). Just try to seek out more and more classy (as opposed to "classic") rock articles/reviews by the likes of Sperrazza!, Saunders, Parrett, the entire BACK DOOR MAN staff, Charles Shaar Murray/Nick Kent/Mick Farren and the rest of the British crew not to mention Adny Shernoff and his brothers in Dictatorhood, and oh, also pick up on the essentials whether they be by Bangs, Meltzer or even Wayne McGuire. And whatever you do, avoid the modern-day rancidities with all your heart and soul and mind lest you find yourself on the Lexicon Devil promo list.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Gary Sperrazza!?Does anybody know where he is?

Christopher said...

Sperrazza! ordered a copy of BLACK TO COMM #24 from me a few years back, and considering that was the last I heard of him I doubt he thought much of the thing!