ROCK SCENE (January 1975 issue)
I used to do a lotta newsstand reading when I was a lad (I probably hold the record for the sassiest backtalking to many a newsagent extant!) and the reason I spent a good portion of my freetime at the 'stands gobbling up everything from CREEM to NATIONAL LAMPOON during my pube-sprouting days was because, well frankly I never could afford all of the magazines (rock, humor, comic...) that I surely needed in the palms of my hands, being such a po' boy and all. Nowadays I don't go for reading at the newsstands one bit...not only is there very little I'd want to read via the rock (and "rap") magazines that are available in the here and now (at least there hasn't been since they exiled all of the cool gonzoid writers I grew up with), but sheesh, how do you think I as a baldoid pudge midager would feel fighting it out with the new crop of bobbysoxers trying to take a gander at the new magz just so I could get a glimpse of something I can just see as easily onna internet by "dialing up" said flavor-of-the-week's pic??? Besides, them days where I could hope to snatch up a copy of CREEM or even HIT PARADER to get a whiff of the newest outrage to hit Max's Kansas City are long gone, along with that club and a lotta the energy and pow'r that went into that scene as well, mind you.
Which is why re-reading those old rock mags in the here-and-now is an especially tasty treat! Given that rock & roll sure ain't what it used to be, and neither is rock writing or rock as the International Youth Language for that matter (or all the promise the stuff had for us back when were actually young and bothered cretins who were in on the plan), these seventies-vintage rock mags sure know how to strike some proverbial chords especially as we all head smack dab into the late oh-ohs and even more boredom. Where rock & roll was once experimental, it is now entrenched, where it was once exciting it is now commonplace, and where it was once a maddening cult phenomenon it is now just about as important as all of your old toys rotting away in the basement. Yeah there are a few bright rock & roll spots you'll read about on this blog and this blog ONLY which should prove to you no matter how jaded thee may bee that there's still some relevancy to the form, but for the most part rock (with or without the "& roll") is just another stuck up and self-conscious racket that would never dare allow another Seeds, another Velvet Underground, or Lester Bangs and Wayne McGuire within its confines, and frankly we are ALL the smellier for it.
Which brings us to ROCK SCENE. Funny, it never seemed as if the Charlton brand of rock magazine (which included besides ROCK SCENE none other than that old standby HIT PARADER) made it big with my musical inclinations. Perhaps it was the corniness that seemed to permeate both to an extent, with the cheapo ads for iron-on transfers and "Sell Kerosene Lamps For Your Organization"...things like that which seemed aimed at the gullible dorkazoids who obviously gobbled such stuff up. Or maybe it was the at-time inaccurate lyrics that were reprinted in the back of HP, a practice which was a throwback to the old days when the entire family would gather around the piano and sing the hits of the day, though could you IMAGINE some family huddled together singing the hits of 1969 together??? "Alright kids, let's do 'HONKY TONK WOMAN'...lessee, it says here it goes 'I later did the same in New York City'! Wow, that's a relief!!!!!"
Yet with all of the old timey hokum that both mags coulda exuded there seemed to be the right amount of fun seventies high-energy thrown into the mix. HIT PARADER had more than a few interesting articles amidst the paens to mid-seventies Amerigan pantywaisterisms, with Lauren Agnelli writing about the Modern Lovers and Lance Loud telling us nuevo-Lou Reed fans about seeing the Velvet Underground live at the Shrine in '68 on one hand, or Patti Smith in ROCK SCENE tipping us off to this new buncha punx called Television that were gonna make an indent on your fine tuning! So you could say that these rags were playing both sides of the street so to speak, the Mr. & Mrs. Front Porch Amerigan one and the deca-suburban teens, and frankly that (either then or in retrospect) comes off a lot more downright energetic than ROLLING STONE latching onto the sick remnants of the psychedelic Californian scene, which not surprisingly developed into the Eagles!
Anyway I gotta admit that this ROCK SCENE mag that's just recently made its ways into my palms (dated 1/75 which is cool considering there was still a lotta hip quap going on on both the mainstream and underground circuits to latch onto) is one mighty fine magazoon...in fact it's so good that not only has it replaced my ROCK ONs for quick-grab toidy reading but it's also been one to help soothe me into sueno time and that's usually reserved for only the most absorbing, enveloping reads that are available within chairside reach! Reading one of these old ROCK SCENEs is like reading an old TV GUIDE, though instead of easing you back to the days of pure UHF trash wonders you're smack dab in the front row at CBGB waiting for a totally new assault to your senses and it better happen pretty damn soon!
Good choice in putting Roxy Music onna fronta the mag...after all, they were big whizzes over in blighty and ready to make it big Stateside (I remember when someone at CREEM mentioned how Bryan Ferry was going to play a swinging neuro-surgeon in the new Hollywood production of GIDGET GOES NEUTER!!!) and if anything coulda given these guys the little ex-lax of a push it was ROCk SCENE (and besides, with a totally cranked-up album like COUNTRY LIFE just freshly released, it would have been like ROCK SCENE was doing us a PUBLIC SERVICE by telling us to go 'n get this one rather than the new Captain and Tennille!). There ain't that much of an article inside though...just standard promo pix of each member of the band (not counting the always anonymous bassist) and little bios near each, but then again I guess the folks at ROCK SCENE (mainly Richard Robinson, wife Lisa and pal Lenny Kaye) figured that the teenyboppers bought the mags for the pix, so let's concentrate on that for them, and for the decadent glam-punk kiddies let's go for the gusto...
...and gusto they did go for, because amongst the kidstuff teenage flackfandom (which is as good as the product it is putsching) there's a lotta hardcore mouthdrool that ROCK SCENE gives to the Podunkian who wants to beam himself directly into the women's room at Club 82. Take an article on...Club 82 for example written by one Lance Loud, who in fact says that the restrooms at this famed watering hole were believe-it-or-not unisex which might have pleased a buncha foxes on the prowl though maybe Lance wouldn't've exactly cozied up to that idea at least from what I've heard (he being a bona-fide HIV casualty during the height of AIDS-chic... in case you didn't know his gay recantation just-post-AN AMERICAN FAMILY was nothing but a big put on done at a time when being queer wasn't so dear!!!!). And while we're talkin' 'bout the weirdos there's also an advice column written by none other than Wayne County him(?)self---I couldn't help that one but anyway he sorta acts like Ann Landers without the upper-class Rockefeller Republican stance telling kidz what to do about things like their overdeveloped organs (this to an aspiring male ballet dancer who is ashamed of the big bulge!) as well as shaving more than one's face because when it comes to sweaty rock & rollers Wayne "just hate(s) to see them standing up there with their shirts open showing all that horrible, unsightly hair"! And if you can't get enough of Wayne, there's also Doc Rock who gives us the answers to everybody's fave questions regarding Velvet Underground album covers and whether or not Sylvain Sylvain walks around with a roll of half-dollars in his pocket. (Believe me, this mag was bulge crazy!)
One of the best things about ROCK SCENE was its favoritism, or nepotism, or just plain ol' incestuousness, which is why we see the same pix of the same people month after month and nobody complains because the reader's in on the chic decadence of it all as well. Like, Cyrinda Foxe is all over this issue as she is just about every one of these ROCK SCENEs...here she's with sorta-husband (pre-Steve Tyler) David Johansen going through a typical day of dressing up, down and going through album collections just like all the rest of us do! Makes you feel like a star as well, hunh? Lenny Kaye's omnipresent as well, including in a rare snap of him backing up Patti Smith when Kaye still was wearing his horn-rims along with shoulder-length hair and big 'chops onstage at Max's looking rather cool as he always has (and I always wanted to look like Kaye myself...wonder what happened???). And of course you see loads of famed Lorraine Newman lookalike Lisa Robinson here, though not that much of hubby and editor Richard which makes me wonder that had he still had his own band Man Ray in gear would we be seeing them all over the place??? (I certainly hope so!)
(STRANGE ASIDE TIME!: Speaking of Man Ray [the purportedly wild proto-no wave band formed by Robinson and I believe Lenny Kaye sometime in 1969 that may or may not have performed a few monochromatic gigs in the New York area], I had a strange dream a few nights back which I originally thought didn't warrant any mention anywhere given that only "I" would understand its grave complexities, but this segment of it sure seems bizarre [and rock-oriented] enough to fit into this blog'd reason for being so here goes...anyway in this dream I was at some sort of flea market/antique show setup where I came across this strange boxed item having something to do with Hackamore Brick [it looked like a box set packaging of sorts, with the familiar ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER cover emblazoned on the front and back]. In, or perhaps on the box were liner notes that gave a very detailed history of the group [something that I wish came with the recent reissue] mentioning how in fact Hackamore Brick were Man Ray at one time, this being due to a member of the group who went under the name of...what else but Man Ray! No, he wasn't the famous dadaist from whence the group got its name but some other mysterious face on the New York scene, but anyway this particular Ray left the band which resulted in the name change, [and, you gotta remember, ex-Man Ray member Robinson ended up producing Hackamore Brick which ties things up a bit, or at least they did in my dream] and although I can't remember anything else from those strange liners I must 'fess up to the fact that having vivid, in-depth dreams such as this one certainly goes to show you that my rockism obsessions do creep into my subconscious mind, dontcha think???)
Of course you get the extraneous stuff like Rick Wakeman playing pool and Suzi Quatro attending a Mark Eden seminar, but it's the wild and woolly things that make ROCK SCENE the mag for me. The snaps of the "new bands" including the second publication of a pic of the Harlots of 42nd St. (now without their glam makeup!) and Zolar X, plus loads of Iggy, Alice, Eno and other bright lights is what puts this rag at the top of the pile for me. Frankly I gotta say that its these old fogie reads like ROCK SCENE (not to mention CREEM as well as a whole slew of seventies fanzine fodder I've only scratched the tip of the iceberg as far as documenting and reading goes) really puts the new breed of pious, political and putrid gunch to shame which, come to think of it, isn't really a difficult task. Anyway, if you have a strange jones for 30-plus years of manic rockism that seems to have been buried under the weight of all that horrid and pallid sputum that has happened since, maybe a trip to your nearest ebay site is in order???
Gonna have to cut this call short… - This international call is costing an arm and a leg. Photo courtesy of Ian Brown. From hotel phone in Xining, China. (Note to regulars: Sorry for no post y...
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