Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Great news comm-rats! I don't have to dig into my box of musty old paperbacks to come up with some midweek fodder this time, because thank goodness I finally got the latest issue of UGLY THINGS (see link on left, dizbuster!) and like, I'm in Heaven or Greenville whichever comes first!

Really, I don't have to spend my evenings staring at old ARCHIE comics featuring Betty and Veronica's ample bikini-clad bods for hours on end at least for a few good months because now I can educate, or resensify, or just plain enjoy myself reading about one of my favorite subjects (rock et roll) and dive deep into a realm of music I thought had been milked beyond recognition a good three or so decades back. Thank God or Prevost or something similar that there still is enough material out there to fill a thousand or so UGLY THINGS, and although things are takin' their good ol' time getting out to us peons at least it's there waiting to be discovered which is always a fun thing to do! So if you used to play in some Northwest group that mimicked the Sonics back in 1965 or puked on John Sinclair at the Grande or played a gig at CBGB in 1976 and got booed off the stage please...get in touch with someone NOW and get the story out before it's lost to all posterior!

Mike Stax's celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of UT with this issue, and as you'd expect he devoteed a few good pages to the mag ish by ish complete with his own personal comments and whatnots regarding the mag's evolution into what we know and love it as today. Funny enough, it sure does seem like thirty years ago when I first heard of UT via the then-most recent BOMP! catalog...I for some reason remember mowing the lawn during the summer of 1983 on a warm sunny day (this was during the time I was working a horrible midnight shift job that was sapping my energy and having me dream up strange thoughts of starting a fanzine myself...boy what sleep deprivation can do to a fellow!), thinking about plunking down the additional moolah going towards a BOMP! order for the second issue which had just been released and was eliciting rave reviews from all corners of six-oh fandom! Soon I did and was so impressed by not only the coverage of fave-rave sixties garage (or punk as we still called 'em) bands but the top-notch writing and Stax's personable attitude and being (no stuck up snob he!) that I sent Mike some cash for the debut one which I received post-haste, complete with a note from Mike saying that I managed to snatch up the last available copy which you know made me happier than Vanessa Del Rio at her proctologist's office!

Mike later on bragged about how a copy of the first ish I so luckily managed to latch onto fetched over $400 via ebay a few years back (not the exact copy own, natch...that remains hidden in a box somewhere in my closet!) and although I get the feeling that the winning price was a result of a number of wealthy collectors entering outrageous bids trying to guarantee wins on their part and getting stuck with the high-priced result you could just see the pride Stax was beaming knowing that a creation of his was just about as moolah mounting as his favorite albums and other rock esoterica had remained for years on end!

The mag sure has changed over the years from a home-made staple inna bedroom affair to the glossy covers and phonebook-thick* dimensions, but it still packs more rock 'n roll and high energy into a single page than ROLLING STONE has been able to pack into one of its leather-bound volumes for ages. Space limitations won't permit me to give you a category by category intense rundown of who wrote what and how I feel about who writing what for that matter, but to make things go down smoothly here's what I liked---Neil Norman being interviewed on the Seeds as well as an upcoming Sky Saxon documentary that, although the subject matter sure sounds enticing, I'll be sure to miss out on (can't let my illusions be let down any more than they're bound to be!), Greg Prevost's interview with Stewkey from the Nazz where he elicits some choice comments about former "boss" Todd Rundgren, Cyril Jordan's continuing saga of San Francisco as it evolved from the Land o' Brummels to Slicksville, the Fifth Dimension club in late-sixties Detroit (sadly not mentioning anything at all about the Seventh Seal playing there!) and Prevost's New York Dolls collectibles corner for wont of a better descriptor.

Gotta say that the record, book and DVD review sections seemed rather skimpy in comparison with previous issues, but that's probably because there just ain't as much good hotcha reissue, archival or reading material coming out as there used to be back when things were really in gear fandom-wise. Frankly I sure wouldn't mind hearing some long-forgotten tapes made by some 1969 doofs who thought they were the Stooges, but I guess tasty gunch like that just ain't comin' out the way it should be. And what is coming out just doesn't seem to be the same kinda material that I for one would want to plunk down hard-begged moolah be truthful about it all I only found like two singles reviewed by Mr. Stax that I wouldn't mind owning, and that's a pretty sad statement with regards to the under-the-counterkultur scene these days!

But still, in these cost-conscious times when maybe I shouldn't be spending so much $$$ on frivolities like music and stick to the basics (like food), not having a lotta hotcha items you "must have" might just be a good idea! But at least you can read about 'em in UGLY THINGS even if you don't particularly want to buy any of 'em, and dare I say it but this latest issue is the next best thing to being your teenage self thumbing through the record racks wishing you could own the entire shebang, only by the time you could afford to the record shops had long given way to "Cee-Dee Supermarkets"!

So here's to you Mike, and to UGLY THINGS as well. Hope the next thirty tears bring even more boffo issues and the uncovering of rock facts heretofore unknown or forgotten. But sheesh, once you sit down and grumble about it don't you think yer gonna look silly writing about this music thirty years on in the year 2043? I mean, by that time the vast majority of people will probably be nostalgic for "new country" and AVATAR and where's that gonna put blokes like us? In decrepit state run old fogies homes with Brompton Cocktail-filled drinking glasses, that's where!

Successful endeavors always bring out crafty imitations as any mid-sixties teenbo looking over racks of album covers with "FROM ENGLAND" and half-moon faces floating against a black backdrop could have told you. However, I don't know if you could consider FLASHBACK an imitation or emulation...there are many similarities between the two publications from their glossy covers to large dimensions as well as sharing a few contributors, but FLASHBACK is a different sorta mongoose than Mike Stax's congregation. It's more underground or perhaps even "progressive," though not symphonic or bombastic, and maybe more geared toward the psychedelic end of late-sixties music fandom than UGLY THINGS's punkitudinal push. Though like UT, FLASHBACK is a major effort of love 'n energy and if you go for one of these you'll probably go for the other just like I did.

It's got many of the same writers, same acts and same ads even, but FLASHBACK tends to take 1968 as its ground zero 'stead of UT's '66, and I kinda get the feeling that this mag's concentration on more bearded bunches would offend the pageboy proclivities that originally sprung to Mike Stax for teenage solace back in the dank dark days of 1984. Then again some of these boys used to get offended at the drop of a Beatle wig, but still I gotta admit that FLASHBACK might be a bit too joss stick for the UT target audience.

The rest of us will enjoy this third (I believe the most recent) issue even if there really ain't anything in here that pops the cranial cylinders the same way an old issue of BOMP! did. Highlights include an article on memoirs (all but one of which I haven't read!), the making of Syd Barrett;s THE MADCAP LAUGHS album, Tripsichord Music Box (interesting piece about a group that never did tripsichord my mind), a comparison between mono and stereo pressings of some of our fave (and even least fave) records and loads more. Of course I'm leaving a lot out...after all the likes of Mighty Baby never really did excite me and my punkitudinal concerns...but like UT this is one that'll have you starin' away during the dark evening hours transporting you to distant cosmic vistas that will swirl your mind to realms unknown. That is, if you take some tabs before reading. If not, it's still a swell read.

Like UT, you can pick up a copy of this via Forced Exposure if you so desire, or you can write to and get the scoop from editor Richard Morton Jack directly!

*hokay, I'm talking about the Champion Ohio telephone directory, but it is technically a phonebook!

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