THE FINAL FANZINE FANABLA, AT LEAST IN OUR LIFETIME!
Sorry to say that this is the last of my fanzine fanabla roundups, that is unless I can get hold of another source where I can reap some more of these early/mid-seventies artyfacts of the first high energy rock screed strata. For all practical purposes my current source has dried up, at least until the next Great Depression which I think might be a few years away which is good for you, but bad for me and my own personal sense of obsessive collecting. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and since there are still many gaps in my gap-prone fanzine collection I am still on the lookout for everything from such titles as CHUCKLEHEAD'S GAZETTE to NEW AGE so if you have any of these rarities and want to part with 'em for a little bitta money (or some BLACK TO COMM back issues...) you know what to do. But until then, or at least until my copy of BRAIN LAPSE makes its way to my door I'll have to settle with this neat batch of GA rock fanzines that were written at a time when more than a few lunks actually took rock & roll as a cheap suburban form of lowbrow entertainment seriously!
First up on this final fanzine ramble-on is the second issue of a "publication" that is so rare, so obscure and so mythical that there are many people out there who to this day might even deny its very existence! I was kinda skeptical myself at least until this magazine actually made its way to my door, its title being the rather jovial ZOOT which was none other than famous rock critic Nick Tosches' very own rag (hence the mythical nature of the beast) which I guess actually saw at least two issues during its short early-seventies lifespan because this one purports to be number two in the line (notice my keen mathematical sense!). However, whether a number one ever did exist might be open to question, and somehow I think that maybe even Mr. Tosches himself might not remember if it ever came out either!
It's a cute li'l fanzine which because of the one-sided printing and less-than-professional layout some might consider a "crudzine", but content-wise ZOOT was a rather up-to-snuff endeavor that in many ways was atypical of the rock fanzine style of the seventies. Perhaps it was closer to the "genzine" side of things in which the publisher delved into more than one particular subject near and dear to his heart, and as far as for being "varied" goes this #2 really outdoes the other genzines I've chanced upon with a wide array of eye-opening contributions from Ed Sanders (a poem entitled "I'm a Whip Freak"...Tuli Kupferberg sent a note printed on the last page explaining why he couldn't contribute this issue) and Jon Tiven on the history of THE NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS which I sure coulda used when I was making up my own post on the man and the story behind the mag well over a year ago! Also to be found, Meltzer's "Outer Pumice", pages from Taylor Mead's diary (I poop you not), poems from a Kathy Dorritie whom I think later on became Cherry Vanilla, an interview with A. J. Weberman on garbage collecting and loads more from the likes of Jonathan Eisen of AGE OF ROCK fame amongst others including Tosches himself who scribbled a short story on some handy foolscap and printed it thusly.
The next, "real" issue promised artwork from S. Clay Wilson and Jay Lynch amongst others and what promised to be the first ever complete John Coltrane discography but I don't think that one ever materialized. I mean, ZOOT seems too good to have been allowed to exist in the first place without it spawning more than a couple of issues so I wouldn't go whole hog trying to track that undoubtedly nonexistent issue down!
Here's one that, besides having a pretty long enough lifespan for a fanzine of this nature, also went through a few strange evolutions in that time to confuse even the more studious of fanzine followers. COWABUNGA began life as a fanzine devoted to reviewing other fanzines and with its flimsy colored paper (kinda like that construction paper we used to play with in our kindergarten days) and tendency to fall apart after a few reads this particular rag came off like just about any other fanzine being produced during the day, at least one with a budget the size of a thimble. The "bicentennial" issue was, surprisingly enough, professionally printed with a saddle-stapled blue crinkly cover and impeccable quality, but the following issues were once again cheaply photocopied at least until the new wave era ushered in a new cover scheme and actual professional type to go along with the massive MC5/Sonic's Rendezvous Band coverage. Funny, by this time COWABUNGA seemed to eschew its original mission of covering rock fandom from a fandom point of view, but why should I complain because from beginning to end editor John Koenig put out a pretty durn good magazine that served its purpose well even though I'm sure it got avalanched under the weight of all of the punk as PUnQuE fanzines that seemed to clutter up the scene at the time.
Still, what can I say about a mag, and an issue (#4) that reviewed the then-latest issues of DENIM DELINQUENT, NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS, THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE and many more, along with the newsstand biggies all in a great talking matter of factly atcha way? Nothing else, which is why my review of COWABUNGA ends right here. And it does.
Howdja like this cover of INITIAL SHOCK #2 anyway? I wonder...just how did they get that photo of a young Dave Lang just moments before having his first true sexual experience (not counting his pinkies) anyway? I'll bet that poor frog was bleeding from here to Perth and back after Dave gave him the good ol' back door treatment! All kidding aside, INITIAL SHOCK is a fanzine that came outta the fertile Bloomington Indiana scene in the seventies, the same scene that gave us such contributions to rock fandom as BEYOND OUR CONTROL, MX-80 Sound, Chinaboise and the Gizmos. I first became aware of this mag after reading a review of the third or so issue in BOMP where Greg Shaw mentioned how this issue went to a tabloid format and featured not only ROLLING STONE-styled record reviews (a bad sign) but an article on obscure punk rock groups of the midwest, something I'd sure as shooting want to know more about than I already do. Don't have this one but at least #2 sure fills the bill with what a fanzine was supposed to be like back in the early-seventies, or shall I say what a fanzine truly was back then at least until the eighties came around and mucked things up seemingly for good.
I mean, what more could you expect from a 'zine that had an interview with Moondog (!), a nice-in-depth history of Love as well as some pretty good record reviews including some from one Mr. Edward Flowers including a writeup of Can's EGE BAMYASI which once again brings up that whole Can as the German Stooges equation that Hot Scott Fischer first brought to our attention in the pages of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE!
Next up is ROLLER READER, a fanzine put out by an Art Schaak which also seemingly had a long enough life itself which is something to take note of especially given how many of these mags seemed to peter out after a good five-issue run as if the spirit duplicator konked out or somethin'. Despite all that, I gotta say that the more SoCal singer/songwriter bent of ROLLER READER kinda turned me off and that there was very little mention of the punk supremacy I and I'm sure you go for. Other than a brief New York Dolls mention (and an OK Blue Oyster Cult piece) there's nada along those lines, though not much else to really bank this magazines underground credo on. Some items, like the Dr. Demento top 100, did make me sit up and take notice at least for a good nanosecond or two.
Hey wow, here's another issue of O. REXTASY for me to burrow into during those lonely evenings when all I have is my bedside boom box and an Amon Duul Cee-Dee to help cry myself to sleep. O. REXTACY was yet another long-lived fanzine venture, and this thick issue (#4) w/ninety-plus pages is a real joy to have and behold giving me the same kinda throb thrills that those BOMP reprints of the early-eighties did for a much younger and even more impressionable kinda upstart geek fan. Gotta admit that I didn't make my way through the Cub Koda interview yet, but I did read about a whole lotta the other items here from Solomon Gruberger's review of the 1974 prime-time and Saturday Morning lineup, Carl Biancucci's article on that new supergroup O. Rex (of which Carl himself was supposed to have taken the Jack Bruce chair, which ultimately went to Kenne Highland!) and loads more. This one also has tons of Biancucci cartoons and artwork which I gotta say really made many an issue of such mags as DENIM DELINQUENT and GULCHER! Nice mock R. Crumb cover and yeah it's printed too light but what's reading a fanzine without a little eyestrain?????
Finally on today's schedule's the "Winter 1974" issue of HEAVY METAL DIGEST. Look closely at the front cover and you'll finally get to see the source of these rare fanzine wonders! Well, this poor soul's loss is my gain I guess, and gain I certainly did with this rare issue featuring none other than fanzine poster boy Iggy Pop on the cover! Wow, it sure is a lot better than that other issue of HEAVY METAL DIGEST I have which actually ran an ad for a Cat Stevens album, something which ROLLIN' ROCK's Ron Weiser chastised DIGEST editor Danny Sugerman for and rightly so!
This fanzine (despite the heavy metal title which would be irrelevant by post-seventies standards anyway) was pretty much in the standard mid-seventies high energy fanzine vein with a good eye on just exactly what was considered heavy metal at the time, complete with loads of punk enthusiasm that would make even an avowed metal hater happy at least for a few pages. An interview with Iggy Pop is the featured item and boy is it a wild ride which tells us a lot of things that you never would have believed in a million years (more on this later), while there's a piece on the New York Dolls by Metal Mike Saunders that's pretty in-tune with where they were at the time as well as an interview with Steven Tyler who says that he is not a punk. I mean we knew that already but it's nice to hear it from the horse's mouth. Jon Tiven clocks in with a good Black Sabbath article and even Lester Bangs gets two pages devoted to record reviews usually spouted off in short Meltzer-esque tossoff sentences filled with typical punk nihilism! There are a lot of Carl Biancucci cartoons devoted to the Stooges and a load of fun is to be had for you if you just happen to come across a copy for your very own. I missed out on this issue when it came out on auction via ebay a few years ago (my bid of $43.96 was bested about midway through the game) so I am sure pleased as punch to have this in my mitts at least during this portion of my life!
Oh, back to Iggy...like I said the gabfest with the World's Forgotten Somethingorother here is pretty engrossing and perhaps just plain ol' gross for that matter, with Ig saying a lotta things that I don't think any of his myriad assortment of fans'd ever'd think he would spout outta his mouf in a million years! Take this juicy morsel of information regarding the early days of the Stooges which reveals an unknown-by-at-least-me tidbit that might knock you for a loop like it did me:
"The music we (the Psychedelic Stooges) used to play was like a cross between ELP & ELO. No kidding. Really, it was. The majestics, not the instruments. I was on organ. It's the truth. It was before we ever went out on stage. It was after I went out and saw all these trashy bands that I said, well, people like the trashy bands, they don't like the good bands so I might as well be trashy. I decided to outdo all those kinda guys I hated at their own game, and I did. And I won. And I liked it!"If this single paragraph doesn't re-write the entire history of the Stooges, then I guess nothing will!
Well. until next time keep a stiff upper lip, remember to look both ways before crossing the street, never leave home without your American Express Traveler's Checks, and most of all remember to keep your fire insurance current! (Gee, how I love it when bad things happen to bad people!)