CLASSIC FANZINE REVIEW: RAW POWER #5 (Spring 1978)
One thing I will say about Los Angeles in the seventies is that although their underground/punk scene wasn't as all-encompassing (whatever good that may have been) and downright intense as New York City's, they sure had the East Coast beat as far as full-throttle fanzines go. After all, while all New York's underground rock press had going for it was THE NEW YORK ROCKER and PUNK magazine (not counting a bevy of small-run and totally obscure offerings that certainly didn't cover the vast array of styles and energies that New York became famous for), El Lay seemed to be brimming with power-packed bedroom-published reads that continue to please the amateur-hour rockscribe fan even this far down the pike. From biggies such as FLASH, BACK DOOR MAN and (for two issues) DENIM DELINQUENT to interesting asides like TB SHEETS, the Southern California fanzine scene was pretty on target with regards to not only detailing the underground movements of the day but giving you a reason as to why some of those "dinosaur" biggies like Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult were perhaps on the same rockism level as all of those "accepted" punque forebearers like the Dolls and Stooges. OK, maybe those magazines didn't make THAT STRONG OF A CASE (which is why I've yet to buy an Aerosmith album and find BOC's best moment to be their long-withheld Stalk-Forrest Group disque), but I'd rather read Phast Phreddie Patterson or Jymn Parrett writing about Kiss or Black Sabbath than some ex-Queen groupie of a punk who couldn't convince me to buy toilet paper blabbering on about the flavor-of-the-month underground treat that everybody seems to forget about once next week's flavor rolls by.
Anyway, after reading all the rest and thinking things out with regards to just what a rock publication above or underground should convey to you (the discriminating fan), all I gotta say is that RAW POWER fits the ideal of a classic seventies El Lay total eruption of an engrossing fanzine with perfection. A pub that has eluded my grasps for well on my two-plus decades of searching, I finally laid my hands on an ish (#5) and let me tell you that even jaded "I" must admit that this fanzine is MORE than I've bargained for even this far down the line! Yes, I knew I was in for a treat after reading the reviews in BOMP! (which ranged from Greg Shaw's praise to Gary Sperrazza's disdain) as well as SLASH (who didn't care one whit for the thing given the mag's penchant for more mainstream and metallic aggregates), and given that editor Quick Draw seemed like an affable fellow and all especially on this tape I have of the Dictators (and Meltzer) appearing on the Rodney Bingenheimer KROQ show which has said QD calling in not only to give kudos to Handsome Dick and crew but to ask Rodney when the Van Halen album was coming out, I had the feeling that RAW POWER wasn't going to be just your everyday runna-da-mill fanzoon TOSS OUT that's for sure!
First off this fanzine doesn't even look like a fanzine which might add up to strictly dullsville "vibes" for some but at least given the total wowzer fanzine-level ENERGY makes me wanna slap the entire staff's backs for being able to grow from their xeroxed roots so fast. I mean RAW POWER's got a color cover and SEVENTY-TWO action-packed pages, and not only that but they were able to drag in some honest-to-goodniz advertising (for water beds and Greenpeace!) as well! Ted Nugent adorns the cover in typical late-seventies El Lay fanzine style, and not only do they got an interview with him inside but they also managed to track down talks with the likes of Debbie Harry and Tommy Shaw of STYX fercryinoutloud but don't let that fool you into thinking that RAW POWER's another late-seventies teenybop read with Shawn Cassidy (sorry Imants!) posters and Peter Frampton's top ten positions because it's still got that punk snat even if they ain't always writing about p-rock per se...
One thing's for sure, and that's RAW POWER is the music that these FANS write about PERSONIFIED...I mean, just one look at the high school pix of the mag's staff on page one (with editor Quick Draw still in shoulder-length hair and Crocus Behemoth-esque beard and the rest of the batch with typical THAT SEVENTIES SHOW 'do's 'n a moustache in the bunch as well!) oughta prove to you that the staff and management ain't Boris Badenovs on a subversive mission but REAL LIFE ROCK & ROLL MANIACS!!! The editorials on page four also prove to you that, like BACK DOOR MAN and Greg Prevost's FUTURE and perhaps UNLIKE SLASH (which I think was a fine paper even when their underground fashion plate sense was in full mode), these guys had their heads straight on and weren't about to be moved by prevailing undercurrents...Quick Draw on the punks' anti-sixties stance:
"The 60's were a booming time for rock 'n roll. It was the glory years of rock 'n roll. You could hear the Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown" and see the Quick Draw McGraw Show daily. What more could you want?? Also, those of you who hate hippies are wrong, too. The hippie movement improved a lot of things you take for granted today. I hear everyone now yelling, "No rules, I wanna do what I wanna do and I won't listen to you." Well, I heard the same in the 60's. You people who want to put down the 60's are putting down yourselves, so laugh hard."
Well, the hippie ref does leave me cold (after all, it was them very same hippies [and I don't mean hippie punks like the MC5, Big Brother and the Holding Company or even Roky!] who were ultimately responsible for all those wonderful social engineering ploys we've hadda put up with for the past umpteen years!), but otherwise I get the drift. Hey, I'd like to hear "19th Nervous Breakdown" on the radio daily and watch Hanna Barbera cartoons (not nec. Quick Draw McGraw...never liked him!) without having to pay premium cable rates as well!
Besides pages of letters (including one from an "Al" of Whittier who sez that the fanzine concentrates too much on the mainstream which should be ditched pronto and thinks Bowie ruined Iggy for good, both points being counteracted with gusto by Quick Draw himself...and methinks this "Al" may be THE Al who had by this time started up his own mag namely FLIPSIDE!) you get the articles and interviews on the vast array of RAW POWER faves, and although acts such as UFO (post-Bolton), Starz and Ted Nugent ain't exactly BLACK/BLOG TO COMM rah-rah's I still find myself reading 'em because the way these amateurs/fans conduct 'em (and their ability to bring out the everyday down-homeness in their subjects) does make for more intriguing reading than you get from the last twenty years of pious and pretentious rock critiquing, that's for sure!
And amidst the pages of interview and record reviews of the latest rock/metal/punk offerings there are a few surprises, such as a piece on page 49 entitled "Who Put The Punk" regarding "Germany's Possible Influence On Punk" (Floh De Cologne, Franz K., Ton Steine Scherben and Neu!) which really does predate the krautrock revival of the nineties so we gotta give RAW POWER some credit for that! And as far as those record reviews go the brilliance shines through even the tenth-grade level English class-style of the contributors (and a "C+" at that!), with THREE reviews of NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS nestled between writeups of Queen and AC/DC...and I LOVE IT!!!!! I mean, it may be "uncouth" to the standard punk elite (not that there's anything wrong with that, at least on a few levels!) to see Quick Draw giving a page long appraisal of METALLIC KO and the Ramones right after heaping praise upon the standard FM twaddle being produced during the industry's absolute worst nadir (at least before the nadirs of the eighties, nineties...), but like I said, I kinda find it neat myself.
And what would a fanzine be without the local band/personality coverage anyway? The tipoff that Quick Draw would be a fan of and call up Rodney's radio show should forewarn you that there's a Kim Fowley interview here that was in part conducted by Bingenheimer himself. And not only that, but there are brief yet substantial bits on such local RAW POWER faves as the Dogs and Germs (names that I seem to recall having heard somewhere before...) as well as Sister, which it turns out was formerly known as the Killer Kane Band featuring none other than Blackie Lawless as frontman long before he spearheaded the worst aspects of eighties metal making that decade (between the faux metal, gnu wave and new age) one of the worst for music fans ever! (Or at least until what eventually transpired!)
Some of my less-astute readers (and there are many) may think that after all of the dross that RAW POWER championed I would fling my copy into the nearest incinerator but not really...like I said, I like the rockism mindset of Quick Draw, Bobbalouie and gang, and even with the weak attempts at humor and coverage of groups I could care less about I give RAW POWER one of the highest accolades I could (and you can buy a cup of coffee with that!), mainly by placing it in my box of mid-seventies issues of CREEM that languishes underneath the very desk I'm typing this post on. And could you think of a more fitting tribute than that? (And while you're at it, could you imagine what RAW POWER would have come off like had it lasted into the dreaded eighties and nineties [or oh-oh's]??? I kinda shudder at that to tell you the truth because I somehow see the mag mutating into either a boring metal mouthpiece or tiresome new wave fashion plate publication. But then again, I could be wrong. Whatever happened to you anyway Quick Draw????)