ROCK MAG SMACKDOWN!
A certain bunsnitch on the blogging scene (no names, though I shall tell you that our "man" in question's from south of the equator and his last name rhymes with "wang") once made a slightly derogatory comment about my obsession with various rock magazines from the Golden Age of Rock Criticism (or whatever you'd call it...roughly 1969-1976) telling his miniscule following that my critiques of various 1970's-vintage magazines of both a professional and fanzine status is, how shall I say, a waste of a blog reader's precious time. Well, I do know that people have the right to air their own opinions no matter how lowbrow and pithy they may be, but frankly can YOU (the BLOG TO COMM reader who thinks for himself) fault yours truly for clueing you in on all of the great writing on both the pro and fanzine front that has gone down during those oft-ignored days of true gonzo rockism? If ya ask me, I'd say that writing about old rock mags and the people who helped create 'em has just as much a place in this blogosphere as rattling on about the SST roster and a variety of albums on that label that came out long after their prime, or repeating oneself ad infinitum (or is it ad nauseum???) about Mission of Burma (a band that I've mentioned many a time has failed to light my pilot, and perhaps for good reason) to the point where anyone with even a cast-iron constitution'd wanna cry "Uncle!" At least when it comes to these old fanzines and other sundries that hardly anyone seems to remember, who else other'n a highly select few, myself included, is willin' to write about 'em and with masculine gusto anyways???
Here are just a few of the bundle of old rock mags, fanzines and related that I latched onto just this past week at the local paper drive which I thought I'd better rescue from a future of being recycled into paper for the next issue of ROLLING STONE, a fate worse than death in the rock music publishing world if you dare ask me!
First up on the chopping block's an oldie and a rarity at that, the first issue of a fanzine entitled BOOGIE that oddly enough originated from none other than Gulfport Mississippi in the rockism-active year of 1972. BOOGIE got quite a bit of notoriety back in the day not only because it was part of the first wave of rock fanzines that started in the wake of BOMP, but because it came straight outta what most would call a Deep Southern locale which did seperate the mag and editor John Bialas from the sophisticado rock fanzine hubs of New York City and Southern California.
If I were some kinda judgemental stiff-upper-lipped tightass form-follower I would be tempted to call BOOGIE a "crudzine" if only for the extremely slapdash artwork adorning the frontside of the ish (come to think of it, is there such a thing as a "crudblog", and if so would BLOG TO COMM qualify???), but that would really be unfair even if you are the kind of person who likes to judge books, or at least fanzines, by their covers. But just for the sake of aesthetics, take a gander of the front of this particular ish just to see what lows a fanzine could stoop to. At least for me, the cover is supposed to be the tipoff as to what thrills can be found once you open the mag and absorb yourself in the high energy magic of it all, but really, what would one expect from a mag with a pic of an emotion-less smiley face (is this a spoof of the then-current smile craze that overtook the nation back in '71???). I'm sure that editor Bialas spared no expense in paying some highly respected artist to delineate this one!
All kidding aside, any fanzine whose cover took less than one minute to create usually is a tipoff of whatever sad contents might be espied inside, but in this case I'd be dead wrong in calling BOOGIE one in a million of xerox cheapjobs that exist only as a ruse to scame free elpees. BOOGIE is more than that, with good writing from Bialas on a variety of subjects, and as far as these subjects go how can one resist a fanzine which as not just one but TWO MC5 album reviews anyways???
Of course, in the tradition of that New England fanzine wonder SPOONFUL we do get the FM prog mixed in with the metal so expect to see (on the same page as a review of HIGH TIME and the first Dust album) a positive mention of Yes' FRAGILE! Those early seventies certainly were mixed up days, eh?, but I don't mind because mags like BOOGIE and the people who wrote for 'em mean a lot more to me than the bigtime yawn-inspiring bandwagon jumper onners who can be found in quite a few newsrooms and press parties even to this day.
Future issues of BOOGIE look more promising, or shall I say that the cover of an issue that was reproed in SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE came off like Andy Warhol in comparison. With people like Eddie Flowers contributing an article about Paul Revere and the Raiders and perhaps more of the fanzine mafia of the day putting in their dos centavos worth, one could only hope that BOOGIE just kept getting better and better even though the 'zine was but a mere memory by the time the radical early-seventies clocked over into the drug-addled middle portion of the decade.
The only thing that APPLE PRESS had physically in common with the first issue of BOOGIE was its strange dimension (eight-and-a-half by fourteen!), but it too was a pretty solid fanzine that like most of these efforts stands the test of time unlike alla them eighties-era hardcore reads that come off just as dated as a buncha 14-year-olds trying to do the revolution game in 1971. You're probably wondering why I'm reviewing this mag anyway...I mean, Beatle-oriented fanzines are pretty much a dime-a-dozen and have been for years, and what's worse about 'em is that almost all of 'em are filled with some of the most inane ranting, fan "artwork" and generally vapid flakey peacewar attitudes to hit the boards even this far down the line. Now these kinda fanzines are just fine...if you're a gal who still likes George and keeps a Beatles scrapbook snuggled under your bed just like you have since 1964, but what if you're the kinda insane fellow who likes to spin ELECTRONIC SOUND and YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND on a nightly basis??? Maybe a Beatles fanzine for this kinda punk is long overdue, eh?
Well thankfully there have been a few exceptions to the rule like the late Joe Pope's STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER, and APPLE PRESS despite its low-budget look is just as swank a Beatle fanzine as the rest of the cream if not more so! But what makes APPLE PRESS stand out from all the rest? One thing is the smart writing, not only from the staff but such contributors as Richard Meltzer, who does a weirdo review of the Lon and Derek Van Eaton press party at Max's Kansas City! Actually I think this was actually part of a letter that Our Leader wrote to editorette Linda Kratschmann, but it was good enough to print anyway and for historical purposes I will relate Meltzer's impressions of that evening to you as he laid it down for us oh so many years ago lest it forever waste away into the ether:
"Stunk. Bunch of cuds showed up. Food wasn't bad tho: best chili they ever had at Max's, and ribs that weren't half-bad at all! But the same bad chicken as always and no seeded brown rolls this time. Lotta people drank stuff like coffee liqueur & milk on the rocks, and tequila sunrises. One of the Van Eatons was standing around waiting to be recognized, the one who used to have the beard like on the album cover, nobody recognized him because he's so short. Toby Mamis bothered a lot of people at the door, told people no older than himself (and he doesn't even shave yet) that they could not enter. The albums sold for next to nothing 'cause the stores didn't want them at all, they wouldn't even give you 75 cents for a sealed copy!"Meltzer also contributes a piece in another issue (the first one, the Van Eaton writeup appeared in #2 bassackwards person that I am) entitled "Arthritis?" which soo-prizingly enough is more or less Meltzer's condemnation of the current post-Beatles solo career snoozerama. particularly that of John's. (Sample quote: "Remember the Spokesmen? They did the answer record to "Eve of Destruction" called "Dawn of Correction" on Decca. They wore V-necked sweaters and did "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"? Well, Johnny L's latest folk posturing ain't fit to lick the Spokesmen's boots." Strong stuff, eh? But its stuff like that, a great surliness that stands in the way of blind Beatle-worship, that makes APPLE PRESS what I would call a true winner in an ocean of Beatle felch-pieces. Definitely a Beatles mag for people who look at the Beatles through jaded seventies glasses.
Hokay, let's get back to the REGULAR (eight-and-a-half by eleven) fanzine output! Earlier this year I reviewed a few issues of SPOONFUL, a neat little pub that, like BOOGIE and a few other self-produced rants of the day sure knew how to toss about a load of cool and surprising musical picks resulting in some pretty refreshing reading that sure got your mind off of other things, like the trouble you're having evacuating that ten-course Chinese dinner you gorged down this afternoon. As you can see from my previous writeups of the mag I am enthralled, if not puzzled, but this mix and match sentiment, but mags like SPOOONFUL sure make for a better evening kick-your-feet-up-on-the-bed read than a slew of current day periodicals that only show how far rock writing has deteriorated since the golden days of Meltzer and his minions. Well, if you knew and liked SPOONFUL you'd probably know and love SUNSHINE just as well. And yeah, with a name like SUNSHINE I'm sure yer expecting a real sloppy hippie dippie read fulla advice on how to "Get High On Life" and other arcane inanties that seem to have come straight outta some early-seventis film strip they showed ya at Camp Hug-a-Bunch, but other'n the name this really is a classic forgotten fanzine read, and if you're put off by the name I don't blame ya but then again don't go cryin' because you missed out on a hot fanzine read such as this! (As if ya can FIND a copy!)
The ish I glommed (#15, Summer '73) doesn't even have a proper front cover, but begins with the results of the "First Annual Rock 'n' Roll Census" where the big gun rock writers of the day get to blab on about their fave raves and dislikes for all of us vicarious types to read...participants include Lester Bangs (fave recordings artists include Iggy Stooge, John Denver and Bread!), Alan Betrock, Richard Meltzer, Jon Tiven and Whitlock, while other ingrediants to this tasty ish include Nick Tosches' booze quiz, Whitlock on bargain bin finds and Meltzer expressing his hatred for Lisa Robinson which only goes to show you how far rock criticking and general rockism jamz have slid down the poop chute o'er the years. After all, compared to the blunberblubs on all (pro, fan, internet) fronts nowadays Lisa Robinson, and her Richard Carpenter lookalike husband also named Richard, comes off pretty "together" in a rockist fashion if you ask me!
By the way, Whitlock's SPOONFUL eventually merged with Metrano's SUNSHINE resulting in the fanzine SPOONFUL OF SUNSHINE!
Oh, and speaking of "jamz" I managed to latch onto the first issue of Alan Betrock's very own JAMZ from 1971, and since I now have the complete run I might as well do a "Spotlight On..." one of these days for your own edjamacation. (Y'see, the only reason I'm writing these reviews and fan-oriented lookbacks into fanzine glory past is to enlighten you ignoramuses out there who believe that rock writing began with Tim Yohannon and fanzines with MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL...believe it or not but indeed there was a prehistory to that punkism music that you all claim to know and love, and educating you louts surely is a thankless task as you probably already know.) For a premier effort (which earned Betrock an article in THE NEW YORK TIMES which even featured a snap of a long-haired and bearded Mr. B holding up this very issue), JAMZ #1 is a whole lot better'n such natal issues of such highly respected mags like BREAKFAST WITHOUT MEAT, MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE and even FUD with some nice enough (though stuff ya already knew) articles on Syd Barrett, cover boy Jeremy Spencer, Roger Corman's rock movies and even the Flamin' Groovies! There's also a hot rock news section with a lotta tidbits that I'll bet passed by the biggie pubs until it was too late. No wonder noted rock & roller Dr. Fredric Wertham mentioned JAMZ and ONLY JAMZ as an example of a rock & roll fanzine in his tome on the entire idiom entitied (what else but...) THE WORLD OF FANZINES back in the day!
Here's a weirdie from the world of specialty fanzines. KILLER (naturally not the same KILLER as Thurston Moore's early-eighties 'zine) was a spirit-dupliated one-sided rag dedicated to Alice Cooper which despite the low budget and fidelity blessed us with some great fannish writing hyping to the gills the talent of the one called Alice (and his band of course)! Kenny Highland, who judging from the number of magazines his stuff pops up in must have been just omnipresent on the fanzine circuit at this time as Meltzer wrote for it, and if you dare read such pertinent Coop pieces as "Alice Cooper -- Third Generation Rock" you will discover some strange facts about the man called Furnier, like how he studied with a hypnotist in Phoenix Arizona to become "three equal parts: male for strength; female for wisdom; and child, for faith." And remember dear readers, you can do it too!
Speaking of fanzines devoted to a particular artist or act, SLADE PARADER is one I've wanted to read ever since I spotted Greg Shaw's review of it in the famous punk rock issue of BOMP! In that particular writeup Mr. Shaw stated that SLADE PARADER was a nice li'l mag devoted to (who else but) Slade, the New York Dolls and glam rock in general and that it was put out by teenaged Lovely Lydia Laske! Best of all not only Shaw, but Our Hero Meltzer contributed to the 'zine which certainly whetted my appetite even that early in the game. Dunno if Laske was one of the gals who was hanging around with famous rock critic Lillian Roxon, who more or less ordered the frolicky femmes to do a fanzine on their favorite rock acts (Natalie McDonald's ELECTRIC WARRIOR FREE PRESS was one of these mags, and I believe so was DAVID'S GIRLS, originally devoted to Cassidy but Bowie and Johansen got stuck in there as well!), but if Lydia was all I gotta say is that we must thank Miss Roxon for small favors considering how she motivated a buncha star-struck teenyboppers to put their fandom into writing!
A great li'l mag SLADE PARADER is, one-sided and xeroxed by Dad @ work during lunchbreak, with all of the great low-budget fun and games such a project would exude. SLADE PARADER is madder than mad about Slade, has a good teenage appeal to it and it's so fannish that Laske was even pictured on the cover of this second ish sitting on Slade bassist Dave Hill's lap! Can you think of a better cover shot for a fanzine devoted to your fave rave rock idols?
Natch the real reason I lapped this one up was for the Meltzer, and as usual his piece does not depress. His contribution to SLADE PARADER was a review of the Ned Doheny album which I will reprint in its entirety immediately below. The old MUSIC CHAMBER blog of Tim "MIA" Ellison's used to have Meltzer reviews reprinted en toto so just consider me carrying on a tradition with both this and the above Meltzer bits:
Ned DohenyNo wonder Laske said Meltzer was one of her favorite writers. And who but the most avid Meltzer hater would deny that it just wasn't a fanzine in the seventies if Meltzer wasn't writing for it!
People on this album: 1. Ned Doheny; 2. David Parlatta; 3. Jimmy Caleri; 4. Gary Mallaber; 5. Don Menza; 6.Graham Nash; 7. Brian Garofalo; 8. Slyde Hyde; 9. Richard Kermode; 10. Mike Utley.
Instruments on this album: 1. guitar; 2. bass; 3. piano; 4. organ; 5. drums; 6. tenor sax; 7. trombone; 8. bass trombone; 9. cabassa; 10. acoustic bass; 11. moog; 12. vibes.
Songs on this album: 1. "Fineline"; 2. "I Know Sorrow"; 3. "Trust Me"; 4. "On and On"; 5. "Lashambeaux"; 6. "I Can Dream"; 7. "Postcards From Hollywood"; 8. "Take Me Faraway"; 9. "It Calls For You"; 10. "Standfast".
Comments on this album: 1. I have not listened to it; 2. I may not ever listen to it; 3. Ned Doheny is on the cover; 4. NOT ONE MEMBER OF SLADE IS PRESENT; 5. NOT ONE SONG BY SLADE IS PLAYED.
WHICH MEANS THIS ALBUMS OUGHTA BE MELTED DOWN AND NED DOHENY OUGHTA BE SUSPENDED HEAD DOWN IN IT & DROWNED -- the nerve of him ignoring Slade on his good for nothing album! They oughta cool the mixture of vinyl and flesh down and a piece oughta be sent to all who loved Ned so they could have a good cry. Buncha crybabies!
ALBUMS WITHOUT SLADE ARE LIKE A TUESDAY WITHOUT A WEDNESDAY.
I brought up Jesse Farlowe's BEDLOE'S ISLAND many times before, and ya gotta admit that it must've been one of the highlights of the early-seventies since even Miriam Linna listed it as being an important fanzine read in her NEW YORK ROCKER article on the form back '79 way (a great summarization of just what the fanzine means to you as an ignorant buttplug of a human being). I just got #4 in, and it certainly is an improvement over the previous ones I've seenot only in printing and layout, but as far as general overall contents as well. Meltzer once again shows up with a piece on the Flamin' Groovies (who must've been to the early-seventies fanzine crowd what the Dictators and New Order were to the mid-seventies!) which is a hoot even if there ain't a pic of the band to be found nohow, only a snap of Meltzer on a lost weekend looking like an unshaven John Belushi swigging gin! The stuff on Family and Juicy Lucy as well as the Dave Swarbrick interview didn't do anything for me, but one Meltzer article in my mag tops a whole slew of Jay Hinmans in yours.
I've been collecting old issues of ROLLIN' ROCK for quite some time, and sure feel lucky about it because back when editor Ron Weiser was sellin' these early-seventies wonders for big buck dollars in the early-eighties I thought fifteen smackers was way outta my price line. I really dug Weiser's hot and maniac writing style ever since I read his letters to BOMP!, and even though fifties rockabilly, blues and music in general never really hit me as hard as the sounds from the sixties (or, as Weiser would say, "sicks-ties") and seventies I'm always game for a good rock * roll read. These early seventies issues are more of the same maniac stream-of-consciousness hot rants with loads of contributions from fifties-ONLY fans about fifties-ONLY rockers (no "sicks-ties" here...in fact, an article on the Wailers tells us boppers up front that we won't like their later-on garage band material!), and after reading these issues I kinda get the impression that there must've been hundreds if not thousands of wild greasy manic rockin' people throughout the seventies listening to rockabilly 45s constantly and living their lives like a 1956-1963 film loop. Never did see anyone like that 'round here...it was more like a 1945-1954 loop if you ask me!
Here's one I think I have elsewhere in the collection but I could be wrong. Anyway, I do recall going gaga about RECORD RAVES before but for the sake of those who have no idea what I'm gabbing about let me hexplain. RECORD RAVES was a two-issue experiment in high-energy fandom that noted critic Charles Lamey released back in '77, a bit outside the loop but considering how RECORD RAVES pretty much acted like FLASH woulda had that one stuck around a little longer (or so Gary Sperrazza said in BOMP!) how could I ignore it?
Nice offset job like FLASH true, and the writing is what I would call pretty much punk fandom ca. '72 flash-forwarded a good five years, and reading about groups like Blondie always was fresh in '77 before we knew what pretentious a-holes those NYC new wavers would ultimately become. Nice two-color cover too, and it is too bad that the 'zine hadda deep six after two issues just like FLASH and other similar-minded '77-era funzines like YOUNG FAST AND SCIENTIFIC and NEW ORDER...if those mags had continued for even a good four more years perhaps they would have influenced a a spate of imitators who were at least imitating the good stuff! Lord knows we've had more than our share of CONFLICT and YOUR FLESH imitations cluttering up the late-eighties!
Now onto a couple prozines that really have nothing to do with the fanzine credo delved into above. And first on the list is a mag that really cannot be considered a music rag as much as it is a left wing outlet for the remnants of the sixties/early-seventies young radicals who were slowly but surely being edged outta the picture in favor of capitalistic glam, heavy metal and punk rock along with the anti-"love" (hah!) attitude that went along with it. And as far as capturing certain places and times go SUNRISE really dredges up memories of that old new left stance with more protest the pigs freak flag flying than one could find outside the early-eighties pseudo-anarchist movements both here and abroad. Naturally the politico stuff is not only dated but inherently dangerous, and you can already see the pinkist allegiances beginning to bleed into the Democratic Party system before taking over entirely, much to the dismay of a whole buncha pot-bellied blue collar workers I'd imagine. Of course there's always the praise for the Soviet and Cuban way of life which makes me wonder how the people who were involved with this mag would have taken to toilet paper shortages! But who knows, perhaps these hygenically-challenged types were already used to the itchiness already!
Frankly I'd laugh it all off only you see the same malcontents today romping around all over the place whether it be at anti-WTO protests or young thugs intimidating anything to the right of Stalin on college campuses nationwide while the authorities always look the other way. And even when I may agree with an article in SUNRISE, such as the one where they certainly bleed enough heart about a American Indian woman who was imprisoned for killing a guy who had raped a neighbor's kld, attempted to rape her own, and tried to murder the woman to boot, you get the idea that the only reason they're sticking up for her is because she's a good looking American Indian woman and if the jailed one were some fat bald white guy they wouldn't bat an eye.
So why did I buy a buncha these SUNRISE mags anyway considerin' what a neanderthal (next to all of you haute urban neo-Marxists) that people think me be? Mainly for the music coverage, which consists of a whole lotta good reviewing from the likes of Rick Johnson (who was more or less Lester Bangs' replacement at CREEM in the late-seventies for which I loathed him, but considering the quality of rock writing nowadays maybe I shouldn't've been so picky) and a few other unknowns (like "Beckola") who actually do the rockism game proud with some scribing that would've fit in place with just about any fanzine of the day. And surprises of surprises, even that right winger Mark Jenkins can be found writing a brief negative review of Blue Oyster Cult's TYRANNY AND SUBMISSION doing a 180 from his previous pro-Cult stance! And didja know that Crescenzo Capece of CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS fame even wrote for the rag??? So yeah, once you get past the environmental SLA stuff there is some good to be found in SUNRISE, but frankly you gotta be pretty hungry for some rock reading to wanna chow this one down!
Last one, but certainly not least...I sure was surprised when I found this issue of WORDS AND MUSIC at the paper drive, for if I'm correct this January '73 issue was THE FIRST ROCK MAGAZINE I EVER PICKED UP AND READ AT THE STANDS!!! Yes, you can blame WORDS AND MUSIC for my deep interest in rock writing and magazines in general, but just why did I peek inside this ish (on the mezzanine of Strouss' Department Store in downtown Youngstown, the stand directly across from the same record department where I solemnly read the back cover of ELECTRIC WARRIOR also for the first time!) and not say, ZOO WORLD which I don't think appeared for a good year or so anyways? Mainly because (who-else-but) Marc Bolan was on the cover, and if my memory serves me right I just happened to spot the thing starin' right at me after I was lookin' for new discs (and that's all I was doin', as if I could afford any!) and how could I help but pick the thing up and get an eyefulla the mysterious one called Marc anyway?
The article on Frank Zappa (with a pic of wife Gail modeling high heel sneakers) was undoubtedly influential with regards to my own Zappa fandom a few years later, but really, what was WORDS AND MUSIC like anyways? Well, frankly the mag was a douse, with NO big name writers, a pithy record review section and a generally tiresome approach to rock writing in general that really has nothing to do with the groundbreaking music coverage that was going on elsewhere at the very same nanosecond. You kinda get the idea that WORDS AND MUSIC is no CREEM due to the fact that New York disc jockey Peter Fornatale (pseudo-hip cause early-seventies fake revolutionary) is all over this thing...in fact he even reviews the classic NUGGETS set and gets it all wrong actually believeing that it's an updated hits collection, an OLDIES BUT GOODIES five years down the line so to speak! Well, one good thing about my venture to the rock magazine section that day is that I didn't actually plunk down any money to buy the thing, but seeing it again was kinda neet!
ALSO READ: AWARE was a fanzine put out by Steve Kolanjian that was more or less collector's oriented, with Apple Records discographies and reviews of recent flea market finds and the like. However, the ish with Peter Kanze's Cleveland rock band rundown does mention the original Rocket From The Tombs (at this point a five-piece with Laughner amongst the ranks) and how they used to do a stanza from "Louie Louie" after each song. That Kolanjian sure knows about the gritty underbelly of the rock & roll biz too...if you ever see him, just ask him to tell you the story about Tommy James, Morris Levy and Shep from the Limelights! EASY ACCESS is yet another fanzine that I perhaps should give ample space considering how it had such writers as Lenny Kaye and Meltzer contributing. Maybe next time, but at least I should mention Kaye's informative writeup regarding his own (surprise surprise!) NUGGETS and how he wanted to add a whole lot more than he was able to but couldn't because of copyrights and uncooperative labels like Cameo Parkway. Some recording acts and tracks that were being considered for NUGGETS but hadda be dropped include "Talk Talk", "96 Tears", Bob Segar, "I See The Light" (Five Americans), "32-20" by the Charlatans, "Free as the Wind" by the Myddle Class, anything by Bobby Fuller, the Daily Flash, "First Cut is the Deepest" by the Koobahs until Kaye found out it was British, and "Acapulco Gold"! Well, I'm sure any of those tracks would have been fine there instead of the nice yet seemingly out of place psych-pop a la "My World Fell Down" and maybe even the still-boffo "Open My Eyes".
***Before I go, I just want to congratulate none other than LOU RONE for getting a nice mention (one whole paragraph) in the latest issue of GUITAR PLAYER magazine! Way to go Lou, and keep up the good work, y'hear???