Saturday, September 28, 2013


Perhaps in honor of last Wednesday's reviews of UGLY THINGS and FLASHBACK (but then again, perhaps not), here's a list of the old timey fanzines that I have been reading and even enjoying these past few months. Of course this edition just ain't as jambus-packtus with the classic Golden Age of Fanzoonies as I hoped it would have been...frankly there just ain't as many good enough 'zines making their way to my door like there should be, but as usual I make do with what I have little as it may be. Hopefully the stack of rags I've accrued over the past thirtysome years will have enough energy and spiritual zing to keep me going long after the rest of you forget who Phast Phreddie is, though I doubt it.

Although these rare and outta print fanzines have been about as easy to come by as ravioli at a testimonial dinner for Lindsay Hutton my never-ending efforts to locate, digest and relay to you all of the boffo fanzines of the past I missed out on the first time 'round lurches on. Anyway, here are the 'zines (each and every one!) that I managed to get hold of since the last Fanzine Fanabla whenever that was. And although these mags are now beyond the realm of ancient and much of the information that can be found in 'em has probably been disseminated repeatedly throughout the years, I must say that the general effort, sweat, toil and funzies that went into each 'n every one really makes these something that I can relate to in a down home, suburban slob sorta way. Well, at least relate to a whole lot more'n I could reading Chuck Eddy goshie-goo over some eighties indie single he probably found to be "heavy metal" enough to blab about in that dire CREEM METAL ROCK 'N ROLL column of his, but that's another gripe.
Starting off this edition is an addition to my collection which I believe will snuggle up nicely against all of the BOMPs and NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESSes that are boxed up in my closet and crawlspace with all the rest of the bodies. As you would have guessed, I first heard of ROCK "N" ROLL STAR via the pages of BOMP! and figured it out to be yet another one of many teen mags that was probably put out by some girl in one of those New York suburbs who was heavily into glitter...after all with features on Bowie, the Sweet, Wayne County and Nazz I kinda pictured the editress of the 'un to be some ranch house pimplezit princess who had nothing better to do in her spare time than wax poetic about her fave rock 'n' roll bands and look over her dogeared collection of 16 magazine for solace in an age of disco. Just the kind of girl you'd want to go out with, just don't let the inner thigh rash get to you.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the editress was actually an editor, and it was none other than the infamous Jimi Lalumia of Psychotic Frogs fame! Naturally that would explain the Wayne County article. Thusly said, ROCK "N" ROLL STAR is about as good as you could hope it to be, just chock fulla that funtime teenage energy and excitement with a layout that reminds me of the first two issues of KICKS not to mention a slew of boffo seventies fanzines that seemed to fizzle out the same time the music they were covering did.

After pouring through this 'un a few times I'm kinda disappointed that it didn't get out to the general fanzine public like it should have (dunno if they even made it to issue #2!) because this is something a fanzine should be, or shall I say many fanzines were before they somehow got infected with decadent smarm and piousness once the eighties crept in and nothing really has been the same in the once-wonderful world of small press shenanigans since.

Nothing presented in these pages is what'cha'd call stop the presses mind-expanding, but I like the layout, the look and the feel of it at least to the point where an observer could easily say that this was one of the better, if in fact more important fanzines to come out of the seventies. The second-string 'zines true, but that don't mean ROCK "N" ROLL STAR's something to immediately poo-poo. Reviews of records current (a John Gamble, who may be the same one who played with Lou Rone in a variety of groups, reviews KGB and Boxer's BELOW THE BELT, the US version w/o the nekkid gal getting it in the patch) and old (Lalumia on the Seeds' "Can't Seem to Make You Mine") permeate, once again showing just where a lotta rock tastes were huddlin' back in a time when the music scene wasn't really as bad as some retropunks make it out to be. Lalumia's review of Patti Smith's "Gloria"/"My Generation" has to be one of the best, fannish writeups I've read in quite some time---almost reads as if I was talking to someone about it at the time as he spewed forth his own mid-teen addled if on-point feelings toward it not knowing if to hate it for its rough edges or love it for its power, the latter fortunately winning!

And while I'm at it I should also mention that theses guys had a pretty good rock auction section set up which always gave a good indication of where the under-the-counterculture rock mindset stood during the mid-seventies. If you wanna see how much those now-expensive singles you so desire woulda cost you a good thirty-eight years back look no further...and eat your heart out while yer at it!
Here's another that's eluded my grasp for quite some time even though I had the opportunity to buy an (overpriced) faded xerox copy back in 1981 when a whole buncha BOMP! back issues were run off and peddled via their still-amazing catalogs. Maybe the thought of those musical morons the Osmonds being pictured on the cover turned me off (and yeah I know that some of you consider "Crazy Horses" a heavy metal wonder and "Goin' Home" a pop masterpiece but frankly I would only if I were being musically starved), but a good thirty-two years later I finally had the opportunity to buy an original copy of issue #6 (Spring 1971) and even though I'm like thirtysome bux poorer for it the thing does lighten up my fanzine collection if only a tad bit.

Nothing what I would call punkitudinal appears in this issue, but it does serve a fanzine freakazoid like myself well with 39 pages of 1971-focused rock fandom writing. Included are Metal Mike Saunders with a few pages on his favorite Del Shannon trackage not to mention a rundown of the then-current rock mags both pro and fan complete with little funny cartoons encapsulating the spirit of each created by Jonh Ingham himself! The reviews of current albums and singles both fresh, reish and old are always good tips for whether or not you wanna buy some long-ignored item, plus the list of then-forgotten garage band acts on page nine ("Prelude to an Inventory of the Sixties") will probably remind many of you about how hungry you were for high energy rock music at the time and even a mention of the Seeds would have you reading their name over and over thinking...sheesh, my favorite forgotten band isn't that forgotten after all! Even at this early stage it was proven than nothing could stop the shape of things to come, even if it didn't come all over the place like it shoulda.
I don't recall exactly where I first heard about INTERPHASE. It might have been in the pages of THE ROCK MARKETPLACE or BOMP! for that matter, but what I did read about it made it sound like a rather entertaining project even if I'm not exactly champing at the bit to read any more articles on either Queen or Genesis in my lifetime. When I finally found a lead on an ish of this newsprint publication boy was I hot on snatching it up, especially when you consider just how much you'll find small heretofore unknown information on your fave acts in publications like this that somehow seemed to bypass all of the big rags you thought would be on top of it all when it came to scoops. But then again when was the last time you read about Gerry Roslie in ROLLING STONE, eh? (Don't tell me, he finally got a sentence of mention in some ish recently, right? Still don't make STONE a rock mag any more than PLAYBOY is a bastion for the Clean Minds Committee.)

INTERPHASE kinda reminds me of THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE in its mid-seventies college target audience kind of way. Maybe they could have become a midwest variation on the SSG style with a snide rock approach that mimicked CREEM more than it did STONE. It was a nice try though I don't think it quite came up to the levels of a SHAKIN' STREET, even with new metallic wunderkind Aerosmith on the cover and a hotcha interview with Black Oak Arkansas' Jim Dandy conducted by none other than the backbone of the GULCHER enterprise, namely Bob Richert, Ken Highland and Eddie Flowers.

I wouldn't exactly call those particular pieces the "highlights" of this ish, but I do think that Cary Baker's article on Wayne Kramer's "new" MC5 was interesting even if it showed Kramer to be a guy cashing in on his old group's fame and seemingly rather jaded with the business after years of bitter struggle. Flowers gets to lay down some news (along with a hot snap!) on Creme Soda who had just released their "I'm Chewin' Gum" single and were in the process of swinging TRICKY ZINGERS our way. Dave Newberger gives us fair warning about the Dictators going girl crazy on us as well. Of course there's also loads of stuff on the local folk music scene, Bruce Springsteen's newie, Triumvrat saying that they have nothing in common with ELP and some fiction, but nobody's sayin' that ya hafta read all that! Bleeb over it, like I did!

INTERPHASE, a fanzine that's at least for the archives, and a better'n you'd expect 'un at that! Now if someone would only forward me a copy of INTERPHASE contributor Claire Panke's PREHENSILE TONGUE???
Unlike many readers out there in fandomland whom I guess couldn't be bothered, I used to rave about the various contributions of one Nancy Foster that permeated the various fanzines of the late-seventies/early-eighties stratum. Heck-it-all, but I would be lying if I told you that I didn't enjoy reading Foster's various scribblings that were appearing with an alarming regularity at the time in the pages of everything from FFANZEEN to THE NEW YORK ROCKER...her style was straightforward and fannish in the Miriam Linna mode, and more talk-to-you than the talk-AT-you that was so common not only then but (especially) now or at least in what's left of today's "rock critiquing" world. Not only that, but Foster's overall demeanor and likability were so honest-to-goodness that and true blue rock 'n roll fan would read every word that gal laid to paper even if they didn't really care enough for the act that she was lending praise to, that's how good she was in a way only a few other music scribes could ever hope to be.

I managed to latch onto two issues of her early-eighties GROOVE ASSOCIATES fanzine at the time they were published, and those have remained lasting favorites to the point where they even got the lead mention in the "Fanzine Fanabla" column that appeared in the last issue of my own personal crudzine. However, issues of her original mid/late-seventies publication NEW AGE had remained out of my grasp despite frantic searches throughout the rock scribeosphere, leading to much frustration on my part at least until now. Y'see, after all these years I've finally managed to latch onto a copy which as you might guess have made me a very happy camper here in the wilds of unbridled really don't know just how thrilled I am now that I have an issue of this elusive 'zine to my name because this 'zine really captures everything I loved about the late-seventies/early-eighties fanzine scene within its thirty some pages of pure teenage pulse!

Good idea of Foster putting none other'n Mickey Dolenz on the cover of this June '79 issue* considering what an eye-opener the interview conducted with him most truly is, what with Dolenz actually admitting that all he ever did while in the Monkees was marijuana and booze and how he's been clean for three years! (Something I'm sure many observers on the scene would tend to disagree with.) The layout is similar to GROOVE ASSOCIATES with that typed out at the library look and feel not that different from COWABUNGA or even the early WHO PUT THE BOMP, not to mention the rest of those rock fanzines who were aping the classic Sci Fi fanzine style right down to the wide margins. Writing is simple, fun and real suburban ranch house to the point where you might thunk this was put out by that loudmouth Irish bitch who lived two houses down from ya whose older sister you used to watch sunbathing in the backyard while playing TROUBLE (the pop-o-matic game) with yerself because nobody else wanted to. And if you want you can edit that sentence to give it an entirely new and dirty meaning, if you so desire!

Good enough that even the Generation X review holds you attention, and of course the standard Count Viglione hype which always made these fanzines extra-oomph-like appears making you wonder why the guy never did become as big a star as we all thought he would've. Of course the local scene report (in this case regarding North Carolina) might not appeal to you given how none of the groups mentioned ever seemed to go anywhere, but it's still neat finding out that there actually were bands covering the Flamin' Groovies for people whose musical tastes tended not to veer too far from Kansas and Christopher Cross! (And there's a lotta whining and moaning about the sad state of rock that permeated the late-seventies, a time when we thought it couldn't get worse until the eighties, nineties, oughts and teens rolled in! Glad to see that I wasn't the only crybaby yearning for a return to rock 'n roll aesthetics around.)

Fanzines like this mighta seemed like a dime-a-dozen back in them dayze, but now that they're rarer'n white people in Detroit they mean all the more to rockist stompers like myself. NEW AGE was definitely one of the better "personalist" fanzines of the time, and naturally I am going to make it a life's mission to track down as many of these as I can if only to resensify myself after being inundated with the perils and pratfalls of (shudder!) real life. A hot one to have and to hold, but if only Foster coulda had this 'un printed on both sides of the page 'stead of wasting all that space (anal retentive budget/space-conscious turd I may be....) maybe it wouldn't have taken up so much space in my closet...
It is pretty much common knowledge that BREAKFAST WITHOUT MEAT was perhaps "thee" best fanzine to make its way outta the eighties avalanche of all sorts of home-produced rock reads both stellar and crap-like. That's why I find it my sworn doody to latch onto just as many back issues of the rag that I wasn't lucky enough to get back when I discovered the thing during this publication's final days (which earned it a nice li'l mention, cover and all, in one of the early mega-paged issues of my own crudzine around 1990 way). This issue (# 8) was one of many that I never was able to get my mitts on back when I first started collecting it, and now that I have all I gotta say is that it's a rather slimy piece of junk that I know we could all do without.

Actually it's pretty hotcha stuff, though (if you ask me, and why not?) I woulda preferred it if there were more of Gobo the Plastic Pain Clown's reviews in it not forgetting the usual surrealist fantasy 'n pokes at the snootier aspects of fandom that kept the issues I already had more'n afloat. But this one doesn't quite cut the ol' caga, and that's got me sad. But one thing it does prove, with all of the interviews dealing with the creem of the SST crop, is that this particular label was host to some of the most unbalanced nutcases this world has ever seen! I don't think anybody who worked for or who was on that label was sane in the legal or religious sense and if there's ever a case for somebody to shoot Mike Watt or Derek Bostrom it's to be found in these pages!!!!! And people think I could use a nice weekend at the lobotomy farm!
CREEP was one of the many fanzines popping outta the late-seventies/early-eighties fertile groundswell of punk rock mutating into its bastid offspring gnu wave and hardcore back in that period in time we call the seventies. And although I now have very little interest in this particular city not to mention its role in this particular period in rock I must say that the Flamin' Groovies and Alex Chilton front cover come on had me bidding a whopping $9.99 for this issue (#4) when it popped up on ebay a short while back. And you know what? I actually won a copy which is more than I can say about that $79.63 bid for an issue of HOOPLA that unfortunately slid outside of my grasp!

Consisting of forty-eight newsprint pages dated 1980, CREEP resembles something akin to the future MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL  which would figure, since not only were both from San Francisco but Tim Yohannon was listed as an "honorary staff member" and you kinda get the idea that if this mag had continued on for a few years it woulda become another MRR rip! Goodniz knows we've had way too many during those turbulent times, so maybe it was providence that the rag up and died when it did now, dontcha think?

As far as I can tell CREEP makes it on the Chilton interview even though it's obvious that the last thing the guy wanted to do at this time was consent to one, while the Groovies piece does shed some light on Cyril Jordan's tastes in early-eighties SF acts and let's just say that the likes of Tuxedomoon and Pink Section were not high on his list. A bit on the Brian Eno/Robert Fripp collaborations and the use of the studio as an instrument was passable, but rather out of place in this company. Other'n that the Angry Samoans blabbing about hardcore as the natural outgrowth of early-seventies metallic epiphanies was the only other really attention grabbing thing here...the rest consists of patented local group pieces and early political theorizing on punk turf (with casual references to Lester Bangs' "White Noise Supremacists" article and Julius Lester!) that would eventually find its apex with the Yohannon gang's valiant attempts to corner the punk consciousness market a few brief years later. Well, it coulda been worse with screeds just brimmin' fulla patented politico rants and neo-hippie jargoning that we were inundated with back then under the guise of political correctness, so maybe my investment wasn't totally in vain.
You can bet your bottom dollar (or even your own bottom if you are of that "persuasion") that any fanzine that slaps a snap of Lester Bangs on its cover is gonna grab my attention the same way a two-year-old turdler goes after Mister Weiner! Yeah, I had the sneaking suspicion that there would be nada mention of Bangs on the inside of this "Summer 2004" issue of VINYL A GO GO, but the thought that the guy still had some relevance to a rock generation that was slowly sliding into the abyss did warm the cockles of my heart and if anything needs warming up my days its my heart cockles (ow!). Perhaps the presence of Lester on the front indicates that this fanzine was perhaps "influenced" by the long-reaching spirit of the famed rock scribe which allegedly lives on well into even these dark days of anti-rock sentiment both far and wide, and if you think I'm gonna be a sucker for passing this 'un up you're probably crazy enough to be still waiting for your cassette tapes from Charles Ackers to arrive!

Naturally there ain't even a mention of Bangs in the pages of VINYL A GO GO, but you could consider the innards an awkward if heartfelt tribute to his good deeds. Editor Lew Houston (who may or may not still live at 135 Wapwallopen Rd., Nescoperk PA 18635) might not have been as devoted to the cause of Bangs' memory as Tim Ellison was in his own late 'n lamented ROCK MAG, but some of the spirit and perhaps even deviance of Bangs does seem to manifest itself in a 21st century "slacker" way. I guess that is better than no way at all, at least if you're of  a Bangian persuason.

Lotsa personal ranting (some which even comes off interesting!) and raves on then-current groups I gave up on ages back that I may or may not remember (the Riff Randalls, Panty Raid, Charlie Brown Gets a Valentine...) show up, and some of this reads rather good even if their subject matter might not (or perhaps even might) be worthy of the praise.

True there's lotsa personal rants and jive that pop up here not to mention the obligatory paens to down pat progressive social causes, but its all worth it if only to make your way to a mention of the Troggs. And it's even spirited amid the sometime gloomy downer approach! It's also the print arm of the conglomeration which is centered around a web address that's now up for sale so if you're itchin' for a copy the best bet's ebay.
Probably one of the more obscure and downright interesting fanzines that I've had the opportunity to read as of late has been UN CERTAIN ROCK (!) FRANCAIS, a rag devoted to French underground rock, or fringe progressive if you prefer, which is mostly made up of press clippings and other flotsam related to a wide range of French groups that I will admit look interesting enough even if I have the feeling most of 'em sound kinda like warmed-over yogurt to use an old DOBIE GILLIS catchphrase. But given that I'm the kinda guy who will attempt to sate my own rockist obsessions whenever and wherever I can (in this case look for more important refs. re. acts ranging from the Velvet Underground to Stooges in the most obscure places extant) I find it an exhilarating experience combing through the French language text in search of mentions of these and other acts that influenced the better moments of rock at large. Or at least took what could have been a dippy local longhair group and gave 'em enough zap to make them proto-punky enough that empty-headed music maniacs looking for a hook'll latch onto 'em like snap!

There's more'n enough French obscurity mixed with the better-honed to wade through here including heaps on Gong (with and without Daevid), AME Son (worthy of re-evaluation), Heldon and the French branch of the Rock In Opposition movement which always seemed to come up with more'n a few chamber-prog weiridities. Not nearly enough on such all-time classic French acts as Mahogany Brain, but the reams of information on fellow labelmates Red Noise (and spinoff Komintern) have naturally piqued my interests as did the writeup on Dogon, an act which would be the latest in a long line of late-sixties washed aways to come to light if only someone'd release a few of their wares! Laminated cover too!!!
Unlike many of you fanzine snobs out there, I really go for those English publications that devoted their precious pages to one artist, group, or buncha people who are somehow connected by a specific act. Naw, I ain't talkin' about fan club vehicles, but those usually digest-sized mags put out by Syd Barret, Hawkwind or Deviants fans that are filled to the gills with everything from British Weekly clippings to personal recommendations of which drug goes good with which song. AKTIVITAT was but one of these reads, a magazine devoted to Kraftwerk and nothing but and although I'm about as interested in the group's latterday recordings as Robert Christgau is interested in rock 'n roll I do find their earlier offerings to be top notch krautrock worthy of repeated spins. Not only that, but when these guys utilized a guitarist such as  Michael Rother or (as recounted in a EUROCK writeup) two of 'em to present a version of "Autobahn" closer to the Stooges than Stockhausen my antenna does a perk up to the point where I can imagine Kraftwerk to have been every bit as important to the bared-wire intensity streak that was birthed in the fifties, emboldened by the Velvet Underground, and perhaps the most important rock group to make it out of the seventies alive. I can imagine it true, but then I regain my senses and remember just what turdburgers these guys had become by the time the eighties clocked in.

Nothing really revealing to be found in this issue, but AKTIVITAT was still a decent enough read with a review of a '75 appearance in ol' Blighty as well as various interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits that made for nice enough forget your impending doom late-night reading. The writing is good fan-to-fan chat, and even if Kraftwerk don't exactly rate a big score on your rock-o-meter you can't hate these guys for putting out an interesting mag that, I'm sure, might have dwelled on the early Kraftwerk stylings that I harbor a hankering for in issues yet unread.
I dunno, but can you really classify ZIGZAG as a fanzine in the classic peck it out and print it up tradition? True, the magazine's early days seemed to be the template for what most English rock fanzines of the early-seventies (and even afterwards...talking COMSTOCK LODE and BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS among quite a few more) would look and feel like. True, ZIGZAG had set up a transatlantic deal with Boston's VIBRATIONS who were somehow considered a "sister" publication as well as "a most unique fanzine" in a ROCK MARKETPLACE ad. True, I've mentioned all of these interesting facts and more during the entire course of my blogging career to the point where you should already have it embedded into your thick skulls by now but frankly, I just can't judge the cranial capacity of you readers one iota so I gotta repeat myself over and over again which frankly isn't doing my nervous system any good! But for the sake of brevity (and to fill this post out) let's just say that ZIGZAG was a fanzine in the classic sense and proceed!

Picked up this particular ish (#59, April 1976) because it contained part two of a Nick Kent interview, the first half of which I'd owned for years and after all this time I thought it was about time to find out what else the guy hadda say. The first portion of that interview was so boss containing info not found even in the guy's stellar autobio (such as his impressions of various Rolling Stones as well as his breaking in to the rockscribing business, not to mention how he thought that Wayne Kramer was handing him a big line of revolutionary hooey when Kent did an interview with him for FRIENDS back '72 way!), and as I would have expected the followup is even more grand with Kent talking about playing rhythm guitar on the Flamin' Groovies' "Slow Death" single not to mention some Stooges tracks he performed on which were recorded after James Williamson's hand got busted up by an Alice Cooper roadie! Both of these titillating yet not oft spewed anecdotes are pretty crucial to the entire rockist history process if you ask me, and yeah, I gotta say that because I know about such things in the here and now my life is at least a little more complete. And who knows, maybe your's will be too especially when Kent gets in on his current faves as well as the Sex Pistols and other shards of gab which might change the way you look at the guy next time you settle down with an old NME in hand trying to dredge up long-suppressed rockist urges!

(I gotta hand it to Kent for pointing out just how the NME/MELODY MAKER feud used to go off on all tangents with NME just having to dump on acts like Springsteen because the people at MM championed him and vice versa! Now I know why there was all of that non-prog animosity oozing from those rare MM's I'd latch onto way back in the stagnant seventies!!!)

The rest of the mag does lean more towards the whole English fop scene and West Coast/country rock thingie that ZIGZAG originally bet their bucks on in those distant pre-Clash days, and while this ain't bad by any stretch of the imagination even if groups like 10cc never really jolted me outta my usual lethargy it does reflect just how dudsville a good portion of "rock" had become at the time. But whatever,  it sure makes for good reading even if some of the second-stringers of English rock writing are on hand raving about acts that never really lit a fire under my fart! An overall good, professional job for a scrounge-y publication like ZIGZAG which coulda taught some of the bigger names in rock reads how to put out a mag, but then again why would any of the successful (read: "snooty") mags care about improving themselves in the first place?
Anyone out there with old fanzines along these lines they'd like to sell, or photocopy for me? Still doing that all-important research even after all these years, so if you're still looking to get rid of that 'zine you printed up 40 years back or want to get some long-overdue fame via the new medium of computers, here's your chance. Just drop me a line (you know how) and who knows, your fifteen minutes of fame just might get extended a second or two!
*no issue number to be found anywhere in the mag though I don't believe it's a debut 'un like the guy who sold it to me claimed....sheesh, some people'll do anything to get their wares sold at exorbitant prices!

1 comment:

diskojoe said...

That Bomp! cover of the Osmonds has to be one of the most brutally funny things I have ever seen.