Sunday, July 29, 2007


It's not like I've been avoiding any of the good aural sounds that have been passing my doorstep (or lay rotting in the basement) these past few days but between you, me and the bedsprings I gotta admit that I really haven't had the time to digest a lotta the newer musical endeavors that have been passing through my life like a sideways turd through my ever-bleeding rectum. (Now that's one that won me a "Creative Writing Award" in the fifth grade, along with a nice trip to the principal's office!) Two major items did show up here at the homestead o'er the past couple, one being the thirtieth-anniversary edition of the George Brigman single "Blowin' Smoke" which is mainly the original single wrapped in a new pic sleeve commemorating the momentous occasion. (Hint: not too many sold.) The other new recording to make the trek to my pad was a Cee-Dee edition of Sandy Bull's E PLURIBUS UNUM which I feared lost in the mail but has since been found...I haven't had the opportunity to hear the former but played the latter a few times and wanna let it sink in a bit, a luxury I would dare not afford to the reams of alternative wankoff sounds that permeated my promo-listening days throughout the nineties but hey, when I buy a record (or disque) I'll sure give it a lot more care 'n attention to one that was just flung my way! Anyway those recordings will have to wait for another day and another time, for today I'd like to just talk about a whole buncha GOLDEN AGE fanzines (read: not the paper-thin 'zineage of the eighties and nineties) that I have acquired just this past week, and given how a whole batch of these obscure goodies hit me in the course of one day it's amazing how I could take all of this great, historically relevant information within a couple of sittings, and keep my head from exploding taking in all of the knowledge extant, that is.

As I've said before, it was the seventies breed of fanzine as well as the more gonzoid rock critiquing aspects of that time and space that helped me develop into the rockism-spewing monster that I am today! Which is why thirtysome years after the fact these oldie mouldy fanzine seem to have even MORE meaning than ever before. Yes, in an age of pathetic pacifist post-hippie wimpdom that was pretty much force-fed into a lotta skulls belonging to kids like myself who certainly knew better (sorry for this redundant whining w/regards to an early-seventies upbringing at the hands of wimpass teachers and other assorted elders who made the peace sign w/one hand and wielded a politically-correct stick w/the other, but growing up during those horrid times certainly did ruin this Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid to no end and I have the scars to prove it!), it's great knowing that there were some "outs" for normil types like myself to escape from the horrid grind of everyday peacenlove. Heck, if it weren't for the likes of T. Rex, the Raspberries and other classic early-seventies AM wonders I happened to latch onto who knows how I might have ended up anyways! Anyhoo, at least there were the likes of fanzines such as these and rock writers like Wayne McGuire and Richard Meltzer who fought against all of that drivel that permeated the if I only knew about them back then I wouldn't've had to endure the shame and guilt of being different in a society that urged individuality with a strange sense of SAMENESS to it! But anyway, it's stuff like these fanzines that made me what I am today, and if you wanna blame anyone for my anti-social behavior go blame them!

Here are a buncha the mags that I might or might not hold deat to my bosom, but given that each and every one of 'em was birthed during that same sainted Golden Age that I continue to rattle about it's not like I'm gonna give 'em the bum's rush like I would with say...SUPERDOPE (a "'zine" whose title reviews itself, or at least its editor!).

As I said, if it weren't for the likes of Marc Bolan and T. Rex I probably would have ended up a totally different chap than I am today. And how right I am, even though Bolan's career here in the United States of Amnesia tanxed out rather early in the game whereas overseas he was a rock star nonpariel bigger if not as big as the Beatles, or whatever was left of 'em at the time. Chocolate candy aside, at least Bolan had enough of an underground following here to warrant a whole load of rock press and snide asides courtesy Lester Bangs so's skimming through the rock mags at the racks for the little bitta Bolan info to be had wasn't exactly a futile affair! But at least he had his stateside fans, Natalie McDonald being just one of 'em, and she really did her idol up well with her very own ELECTRIC WARRIOR fanzine. ELECTRIC WARRIOR was a rag that has the distinct honor of being inspired by none other'n Lillian Roxon a short time before her exit from the Rock Critic Carbon Cycle Hall of Fame, and although I already had the first two issues of these...nice li'l fannish produce not that different from a lotta the other early-seventies fanzine endeavors (of all interest-strata) that seemed to be printed on the same colored construction paper that they used to decorate bulletin boards with in school... these later issues from '74 or so are pretty professional affairs. Not that they're prozines or anything, but they sure do look nice in light of a lotta the slicksterisms that have permeated the self-publishing world since at least the early-eighties'r so!

Great rare snaps (inc. an outtake from the Roni Hoffman session that appeared on a cover of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE), lots of hot-off-the-press Marc news, adulatory Marc poems and a great non-ginchy outlook just oozes outta every pore these issues exude (a relief after all the nauseating fanblab one still reads regarding the Beatles where their heroes can do no wrong write no bad song record no duff track and generally think no bad thoughts!), and what's BEST about these ELECTRIC WARRIORs is that the fanzine mafia of the day is more or less firmly in gear here. Heck, even Carl Biancucci who would make a moniker for himself in Boston's Classic Ruins during the punk-active late-seventies contributes one of his nostalgically-derived comics dealing with T. Rex fandom which really tells the tale...y'see, some guy asks another who his famous groups are, and after said pal rattles off Yes, Johnny Winter, the Who and T. Rex he gets chortled for mentioning what else but the very last one...thus getting turned into a rabbit for his gross sense of miscalculation! Kinda funny to see the guy get away with liking Yes (esp. given Biancucci's punk fanzine credentials of the time!) but lemme tell you those were kinda strange days themselves and who am I to judge? (Ha!)

Also arriving on the BLOG TO COMM scene was issue #9 of STORMY WEATHER, yet another fifties-oriented rockabilly mag to have popped out of the early-seventies fansphere. I've known about this 'un for ages as well thanks to mentions in Greg Shaw's old fanzine col in BOMP! as well as via the Norton catalog (where back issues had been on sale for years!), but it wasn't until now that I decided to actually pick up an ish of this once-popular pub to find out what all the fuss was about myself. And now that I have a copy in my hands let me 'fess up to you and say that STORMY WEATHER wasn't exactly the kind of a fifties-oriented fanmag that I had in mind while obtaining the thing...oh sure, it's nice enough and I know darn well that every fanzine within the "oldies" circuit ain't gonna be wild and drooling like Ron Weiser's ROLLIN' ROCK, but this 'un's too...staid??? Of course there are those wild moments like Weiser's own hoppin' article plus Gene Sculatti gets to put in his own two cents worth with an article on "Wop Rock" entitled "No Pepperoni Please," but between a piece on cleaning records with soap and water or alcohol (but not the twain since they don't mix!) and one on San Francisco up-and-comers Earthquake (!-how did they rate a mention in a rockabilly mag, and what's even stranger is the mention regarding how they were going to have a single out in England on The Famous Charisma Label?!?!?!!), there seems to be too much seventies creeping into the grand fifties mood of the thing. Or at least the mood I was hoping for which would've reflected besides the hot rock & roll hot tee-vee, hot cars, hot food... The drawings of the longhair, bearded editor don't help much none either! Awwww, it's OK for the facts and for Sculatti, but believe-you-moi, this ain't no KICKS.

I first latched onto an issue of COWABUNGA about twennysome years back and was impressed with the overall quality that a person such as I could only have dreamed about during my own fanzine-frolicking days. This was their bicentennial issue (that's from 1976 for those of you in San Francisco who might happen to be reading this!), and with the colored-paper cover, the professional wraparound binding and the excellent printjob housing what was a typically-typed fifties/sixties/seventies fanzine layout I was in hog heaven absorbing all of the great bargain-bin info (along with the great contributions from the likes of the ol' fanzine mafia a la Eddie Flowers) along with the reviews of a whole slew of current pubs and even a repro of the cover of the ne'er to be FLASH #3 (the surf issue) which was accompanied by a letter from Metal Mike Saunders tellin' us of his falling out with the one called Mark Shipper (and hey Mark, whaddeva happened to you???). It was a pretty exhilirating ish, though the later ones done during the punk rock days with the likes of Eddie and the Hot Rods and MC5 onna covers were just as snat as well even though they mag had reverted by to a xerox format and a lotta the British punk news reported was old hat by the time it reached COWABUNGA's typesetter. After eyeballing these later issues even a dense soul as I knew that the mag, for all the good intentions it had, was gonna get buried under the weight of a lotta the competition that was springing up across the land faster than age spots settlin' 'round my eyelids, and you know what, I believe I was right.

For some reason the earlier COWABUNGAs have been going for megabucks these days onna collectors circuit which is why I feel lucky bucks to have latched onto these three ishes. Published before and after that well-executed Bicentennial issue mentioned above (the one with George Washington playing electric guitar on the cover!), these COWABUNGAs were more or less in the classic fanzine format with little if any illustrations and a type-pecked print that looked as if it were knocked off at the library between six-and-nine PM while fighting off a rabid 15-year-old who has to crank out a term paper on carnivorous insects for tomorrow morn. And yeah, you could say that the same material and information extant was being better presented by the likes of BOMP! around the same nanosecond plus COWABUNGA sorta loses it on the humor angle which TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS had all wrapped up anyways (their "How to Form a Punk Rock Band" article could've used even more honing than this very blog!), but no matter how you slice the thing COWABUNGA is still a noteworthy source for jerks such as myself getting hold of some hot GA of fanzine info all these years down the line when frankly the only person on the face of the earth who is interested in documenting and enjoying rock & roll both in the print form and aurally happens to be me!

Lotsa fun punk ramblings brought to you by one of the fellows who made GOLDMINE such a big success in the early-eighties before it got sold to Krause Publications and slowly lost my interest. And I hope you don't think I'm repeating myself once again when I say these issues certainly are a boon, at least for me who not only wants to know more about already-well known reads like BACK DOOR MAN and what people were writing about 'em at the time, but want information on the obscurities that nobody seems to remember and thankfully a few mentions do pop up. Oddly enough, the same Carl Biancucci I told you about above had his own fanzine going at the time as well which was entitled SWLABR, and with a name like that you kinda wonder why it didn't catch on! All kiddin' aside, these COWABUNGAs are a great place not only to get hold of vital classic fanzine info which I'm undoubtedly interested in for my own anal-retentive purposes, but to cop then-contemporary reviews of everything from bootlegs to the self-produced singles pf the day plus get the lowdown on what's going on straight from the fanzinemakers themselves. (One interesting point is made in Phast Phreddie's letter in #10.5 [the one where a Jesus Christ-looking Sky Saxon hits on some punk for spare change and is turned down on account of the SPOONFUL OF SEEDY BLUES album!] where he attacks the punk scene in general for creating too many "snobs" amongst 'em and said he would continue to champion the likes of Kiss and Aerosmith even though it wasn't "cool" with some of the comrades floating about! But all I gotta say is "what else is new" other'n all the snobs have abandoned the wild and wooly world of rock & roll and have joined the blogosphere, unfortunately to stay!!!)

Finally for today is this obscurity, the third issue of SPOONFUL which was edited by a guy named Fred Whitlock out of Teaticket Massachussetts, a place I assume is somewhere near Boston given the presence of one Dennis Metrano in its pages, he being the same one who wrote about Boston music a lot in his own SUNSHINE fanzine and at the same time as well. A shoulda-been-legendary read to say the least, SPOONFUL was one of those funky as they used to say outta-the-scope mags that worked on a shoestring budget (and with Whitlock's mother as the typist how shoestring can you get?) with nil illustrations 'cept for the cover "drawing" and a general crudzine depreciation that I gotta say turned me off back in the eighties, especially when the cruds in question were spewing off about needless underground cyborg alternative bands. But like some of these under-the-counterculture efforts there seems to be loads of fine musings to keep one (at least me) entertained, and SPOONFUL is brimming with such wonders not only with lotsa Stones ramblings and an Eric Andersen article you or I could care less about true, but Alan Betrock's tale about the mysterious shopper in his record store who rattled off yarns about being in the Cheynes while Downliners Sect records spin was particulary a-wow-zing as were the bits and pieces on Surf Music, the Pink Fairies and even the Remains and Barbarians who I guess were deemed important enough to warrant brief mention! It's also funny to see how a guy like Whitlock, who goes for the Fairies and sixties garage bands, could also be a fan of the likes of Yes, Genesis and Flash (!-especially with all those Standells, Raiders and Dr. West lyrics getting printed all over the place as space filler!!!!), but given how Biancucci could give Yes a pass as I said earler nothing seems to surprise me anymore! Nice matter-of-fact writings here with the usual inaccuracies and downright errors tossed in true, but then again if it didn't have them mistakes and general rock & roll attitude how could it be a fanzine??? (Please don't answer that...I was merely being facetious which I guess seems to be in such short order these days!)


parabells said...

Hello from Austin! Found your blog after seeing hoards of visitors (13) scrambling over due to the nice link on your pages. Thanx! I still have a a tattered copy or two of the original zine...I will check back often. Next up on Neglected Stairways should be an greatest hits from the Pickwick/Design lps that I have scrounged up over the last 20 years and have managed to convinced myself feature the young Mr. Reed!

See ya,

Natalie McDonald said...

Just a note to thank you for your kind words about the "Electric Warrior Free Press" -- I'm delighted to learn that I passed muster with the "fanzine mafia" of the day!

With sincerest appreciation,

Natalie McDonald
All roads lead to "Depth Charge!"