Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW! EUROCK, EUROPEAN ROCK & THE SECOND CULTURE, BY ARCHIE PATTERSON, 2002, (Eurock Publications, PO Box 13718, Portland, OR 97213)

As in the case of the ALTER EGO collection reviewed two weeks back, this humongous sampling of work from the pages of Archie Patterson's 70s/80s fanzine entitled  EUROCK does lose something in the translation from mimeograph to typeset. As I often say, there's just something special about reading the opines of a person nobody in the industry or real life press would give a shit about (which is usually a sign of just how insightful and valuable their writing and abilities to discuss just what it is that makes the music at hand worthy of praise or dismissal), especially when it's presented in an home-produced and amateurish yet attuned to your own sense of musical values fashion that's easy on the eyes. And reading these almost-40-year-old articles in more or less their original setting's sure a whole lot easier on the mind than having it typeset (on something a little more technologically advanced than an IBM Selectric) and reprocessed complete with professionally screened pics and of course all of those updates and edits to fit into the more streamlined thought processes of 21st century Earth with all of the piousness and gut-wrenching tingles that may imply!

But (as usual) I'll take a good fanzine read any which way they choose it! And although this collection of choice morsels from EUROCK sure come off better in the original type and dimensions of a mag you can read on the toilet (pretty hard with this think edition) I gotta say that I love the entire dickens outta this compilation of the mag's finest moments. Yeah it's got more than its share of a progressive rock bent as well as information on acts that you'd swear you'd never wanna listen to no matter how dry the well of rockist inspiration has run, but there's more than a good share of hefty info regarding my (and perhaps even your) personal favorites that'll keep you running back to this book whenever the pangs of continental rock escapism (from the confines of groups who sing with English as their first tongue) just might hit you hard upside the head.

As I've said many a time once before, the likes of the upper-echelon krautrock groups as well as many of the acts wiggling around in various other European enclaves were just as much a part of the whole punk rock continuum as the Velvet Underground and Stooges were. And true, many of these musicians tended to come from classical backgrounds and were conservatory trained thus approaching rock from a post-Beatles intellectual standpoint, but the sounds emitted by everybody from Can, the Amon Duul's and even the Tangerine Dream of their debut album were just as much a part of what 1969 punk rock was all about as all of those compact organ crunchers such as It's All Meat and the rest of those guys who still couldn't make up their minds whether or not they wanted to be part of the Sky Saxon shopping plaza set or Jim Morrison-esque pseudo-intellectual college bops! The members of Can might have been well respected idealists who were not only pushing thirty but could probably peck out the Minute Waltz on their bass guitars if the spirit was willing, but you know they were more content to find sonic nurturing in the same batch of outta-the-way record shops with sawdust onna floor that the rest of punk rock Ameriga 1969 found their soul and inspiration with, and if you don't think that's something that counts in their favor you're obviously reading the wrong blog, you prog!

Although I will admit a hefty portion of EUROCK caters to the more esoteric breed of record collector (the kind who would eventually find solace in aerie faerie syntho gnu age candy coat) there's enough here to send the standard fan of o-mind deep fry into unbridled spasms of joy. Lester Bangs' liner notes for the Amerigan pressing of DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS (which for one strange reason or another were never included in that instant cutout) opens the book, and with the man's penchant for slipping hefty p-rock refs. in between the usual San Fran/Jefferson Airplane comparisons that naturally get dredged up how could any true blue son of Stoogemerica be disappointed! Of course there's more'n just this rare piece of subatomic mind spasm, since EUROCK during its early days was blessed with the presence of American gonz scribe Hot Scott Fischer, a man who other'n Bangs was perhaps the first to see the connection between various underground trends happening in Germany and elsewhere and bring up the point that not only were Can and Guru Guru (among others) Germany's answer to the Stooges, but in many ways their entire styles and grooves had taken the original no-chord thud and run off with it in ways that the likes of Iggy and crew could not imagine. A debatable point true, but a whole lot more interesting a subject to ponder than whether or not Paul was the Walrus!

Of course there is plenty here to get the average (if there is one) BLOG TO COMM reader headin' for the nearest ebay auction within his grasp, such as an extended piece on noted radicals Ton Steine Scherben, not to mention the usual proto-punkian rants regarding the once-ignored but now hipster Neu! Even a bit on Kraftwerk will raise some shaved eyebrows with the brief description of a 1972 vintage live show on page 76, one where writer Reinhard Kunert recalls seeing Ralf and Florian doing their standard electronic set only to be joined by two guitarists doing an extremely early version of "Autobahn" that sounded nothing like the hit of three years later! In fact, with the guitars doing blitzkrieg swoops and careens Kunert said that the song resembled "a cross between John Cage and The Stooges" which I know is something that makes me curious enough to kill more than a litter of kittens!  I know that if anybody knows of the existence of this particular show via bootleg tape or Compact Disque (or good ol' vinyl even) they'd definitely keep it to themselves, but maybe if somebody out there was kind and generous enough to... Naw, you know that would never happen especially with all of you cutthroats out there!

Even a good portion of the rest of this book might soothe the punkian spirit within us. The piece on Jukka Tolonen was interesting enough for me, but that's only because I've read Bangs' review of the Tasavallan Presidentti album in ROLLING STONE and remain curious even a good thirtysome years after the fact. Other pieces such as the ones on the "Rock In Opposition" groups of the late-seventies was educational enough even if I'm not as much of a Henry Cow fan as I know I should be. Even if the likes of Supersister and Catherine Ribiero and Alpes might have piqued my attention on and off over the past X years at least the pieces here remind me that there's still time left in my life to give 'em a try. But still, how can you ignore a fanzine that was chock fulla such goodies as these early appreciations of the krautrock groups as well as various non-Teutonic worthies such as Savage Rose (who also teetered between European Classicism and Amerigan basement rock mentalities), not to mention an interview with the once-elusive Malcolm Mooney which is something that I'm sure was being sought after by just about every stop-the-presses fan of the German rock movement ever since the man became legend.

This is also available on a Cee-Dee-Rom for your personal computer (complete with an Amon Duul II television appearance that's probably all over the web by now), and I'm sure that if you write Archie at the above address he'll fill you in on all the details as to how one could purchase a copy for his very own. In any format this'll make a smart addition to your home and even if you have the fanzine's entire 1973-1993 run it ain't like you're gonna hafta search through boxes of mags just to find that one elusive interview with Annisette that you've been hungerin' to read after a few spins of YOUR DAILY GIFT! (Like I do after pushing my books and 'zines the back of the pile thus having to spend a good two hours trying to retrieve the things!)

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