Saturday, March 08, 2014


Remember when you were a kid and ya'd send away for some toy with your hard-begged box tops and fifteen cents for postage and handling? You'd sweat out the weeks waiting for the piece of  "cheap plastic junk" to arrive, and  when it finally did boy were you happier than Joseph Mengele at a midgets convention! Well y'see, I feel the same way about a package I just received, and the best part about it is that I didn't hafta save up any box tops or moolah to obtain the parcel at all! In fact, I didn't even know the blasted thing was a'comin' until it finally did!!!

Here's what seems as if none other than Stephen Painter, no foe of the blog he, decided outta the goodness of his heart to send me a whole load of music-related magazines that he discovered while cleaning his room out! Really, the man actually thought that I would actually enjoy thumbing through these reads, and since he didn't particularly want them himself he actually felt it right and proper to send 'em all my way! A strange thing for him to do considering the lack of sympathy or empathy that has been given to either myself or this blog, but send 'em out he did and boy am I glad!

Funny, whenever I clean my room all I find are dead spiders and bits of peanuts and breakfast cereal, but I don't think Stephen would want me to send these things his way in a million years! Sorry guy.

But dietary concerns notwithstanding, it was sure great that I got a whole slew of hotcha reading outta this packet, and one tumble through these mags only goes to prove that the seventies (from whence these publications were bred) not only had some of the best rock scribing to have been found in the printed realm, but some of the worst style, prose and opinions directed toward that wild and woolly world of music as well. More on all that in a sec.
The two issues of CREEM that  Stephen scooted my way are a splendid example of just how good rock mags could be, and just how tiresome they became once the music and the attitude changed from gonzoid to journalistic. The February '76 ish with a whitefaced Dylan rolling the thunder is a proud example of the former, a mag that was tuned into the same wavelength as their suburban slob readers. I have hearty memories of readin' this ish in my teenage boudoir during Christmas Vacation '75 whilst slung over my bed in typical teenage fashion, and naturally the old timey memories came rushin' back so fast that I was looking for that NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC hidden under my mattress just outta reflex!

It's got memories 'n more in fact...Lester Bangs making peacepipe with Lou Reed after the debut of METAL MACHINE MUSIC*, Bangs opening more'n a few doors of curiosity in my addled teenbo brain with his review of Patti Smith's HORSES** and the usual bunch of faves (R. Meltzer and Robot Hull among 'em) on the cusp between mid-seventies snarl and that late-seventies miasma we never really got over. Yeah, everything that I find exciting in a rock read can be found here and more, and all I gotta say is (and not even with a good four decades of armchair hindsight) is that it is too bad that the majority of Amerigan kids went more for ROLLING STONE's hippie West Coast schmooze rather'n the Detroit hammer of classic CREEM. Maybe if they didn't we wouldn't have had to see rock 'n roll treated as such utter trash over these past XXX years to the point where I could care less if the entire genre had died out (as a true teenage International Music Language) somewhere around the time when Max's Kansas City closed up shop and Bangs took his final gasp in that fart-encrusted room he called an apartment.

If the above ish of CREEM stands as a testament to everything that was hot about rock 'n roll as a wild and energetic stab at atonal expression, this March '82 copy just goes to show you how far down the slippery slope of complacency and tastefulness a magazine could go. Not only have all of the classic CREEM-era writers (excepting for a few including original CREEM-ster Richard Allen Pinkston IV reviewing Ringo!) packed up for browner pastures with the writing taking a huge nose-dive in the process, but the magazine had taken on an air of  "professionalism" that really didn't suit the wild and exciting state of rock 'n roll as it stood in the early-eighties . OOPS! I forgot, this was 1982 when everything from fluffy metal to new wave-y pose was the hot stuff, and as any good whore knows you gotta roll with the punches and go with the flow even if it means looking like a total asshole in the process! But hey, what's rock 'n roll fun 'n jamz in the face of looking hip 'n with it, man???

Not that this one is the total turdster I seem to be making it out to be (after all, Chuck Eddy had yet to contribute to the pack), but there seems to be a total lack of energy, joy, excitement or anything that made me wanna tune into the mag even a few years earlier to be found within these pages. But I guess with a packload of writers who actually could get excited over Van Halen this is what you'd expect. Even the SCTV article drags a whole load, and compared with...say...Bangs' own Firesign Theater piece from a good seven years earlier you could just see where youth gulcher was heading to the point where even college paper kiddies would soon be taking their cues from Erma Bombeck a whole lot more'n Mike Saunders.

Don't know whether to blame the music or the kids or the paper, but if anything this particular CREEM comes off like a tombstone to that bright era in music that gave us the Velvet Underground*** and Stooges, not forgetting some of the lesser lights in the game such as Dylan and the Stones. There was no way acts like these and many more would be compatible with the squeaky-clean and smooth utterances that the eighties would be known for, and it's a shame the guys running the mag couldn't have kept it nice and grubby with loads of coverage of the new underground mixed with the old one and maybe a few mainstream things here and there to keep the advertisers happy.

But let's face it, the eighties were a pretty drekky era for rock 'n roll and just as bad as the nineties, otz and the teens we are now schmoozing around it and in no way could an energetic, energy-crazed sorta rock mag dare to exist in the same climate that was pumping out acts like Loverboy and Pat Benetar galore. You were great once CREEM, but how could you even think of walking in the same stratum of post-stoner hipness as Andy Secher (blech)'s HIT PARADER???
I get the idea that a lotta people who had grown tired of CREEM's arena rock pandering eventually skeedaddled over to TROUSER PRESS to get their rock 'n roll information, and judging from this June '79 issue I wouldn't doubt it one bit. Whereas those involved with CREEM had become so cocksure of themselves as they tossed two-dimensional throwaways at their readers, TROUSER PRESS was presenting articles, reviews and a general atmosphere that mirrored those of the kid on the go for something new and exciting to listen to. No more did we have to search through an entire mainstream mag just to get one brief mention of some underground rock mystery we sure wanted to know more about...with TROUSER PRESS that underground mystery more or less had an entire article to itself that helped fill in all of the gaps that most certainly weren't being filled by any of the major newsstand competition..

Of course it wasn't like digging into a hot fanzine where said underground act was probably interviewed and had their mug splattered all over the place, but TROUSER PRESS was sure enough easier to find and besides it probably held together a whole lot better'n a whole number of those staple jobs where the pages kept fallin' off after a few reads.

Good writers and good subject matters too (meaning we're not gonna be inundated with Van Halen's pusses being splattered all over the place, that's for sure). A bit new wave-y true, but this was before that whole underground scene toppled into a gooey abyss of Talking Heads pose and B-52s kitsch and a good portion of what was happening in NYC and elsewhere was mighty listenable, at least on different levels. And it's obviously nice to know that the people who wrote for the mag still seemed to care about music as a high energy form of expression ('stead of background for carnal oompah or a stroking of your own ego regarding your superior position on this planet of ours), and at a time when the rest of the mainstream competition was either willfully ignoring the new underground styles or berating them without any real evidence to back their pallid claims up. TROUSER PRESS were keeping themselves at the forefront of what heavy duty rockscreeding was supposed to be about and doing a good enough job at least until the early eighties clime changed and in no way could a mag like this exist in a world where Madonna was actually considered an important artistic achievement.

Special note---the inclusion of a review of Frank Zappa's SHIEK YERBOUTI written by a chap calling himself Cole Springer, a name that somehow rings a bell to be cornball about it.
In contrast of TROUSER PRESS's willingness to expose the youth of this nation to the rare, the unheard and the exciting sounds that truly mirrored their existence, CRAWDADDY seemed to go out of their way to cater to the remnants (and there were many to cater to as there are today!) of the early-seventies fringe leather 'n turquoise crowd that looked silly and worthy of ridicule even during their day in the sun. Far from being the same rock mag that published Meltzer and allowed Wayne McGuire to pontificate about WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, CRAWDADDY had become even more of a ROLLING STONE-styled hippie tossout during the seventies complete with the usual New Left hoohah with all of the right buttons being pushed to assuage the scions of the shaggy hair generation as to how intelligent and superior they are (and will remain) to everybody else that walked the face of this earth.

Taking your cues from ROLLING STONE 'stead of CREEM might have been a good way to rake in the cash, but who would agree that it was the right way to go if you wanted to dish out the high energy jamz! But then again, were the mass of people in that mythical ages 18-34 bracket really interested in rock 'n roll what with all of the mind-numbing downers and brain-napping religious movements that were abounding at the time? Yes, the folks at CRAWDADDY really had their fingers way up the sphincters of Amerigan youth, and you can tell it not only with the standard political propaganda (that doesn't read as cutting as STONE's nor as in-depth as FUSION's) but with their musical tastes which were so obviously stuck at the turn of the 60s-unto-70s what with all of the rattle-on about the remnants of those fatal years who certainly deserved to be remnants. Some interesting bits do pop up such as Michael Cuscuna's review of John Coltrane's INTERSTELLAR SPACE craftily combined with one of the Rashied Ali/Frank Lowe DUO EXCHANGE on Survival, but in order to get to that you have to trod through a ton of the usual West Coast cokesnort canticles to get to 'em. And what a trod it is, especially when you read a review of Tim Buckley's LOOK AT THE FOOL and the guy writing about it mentions that the "SAILOR" album was "a disaster, but at least it ended Buckley's flirtation with jazz"!!!

If you want a good example of what I, as an over-rambunctious teenager, used to pour through in order to find maybe one measly reference to the Shadows of Knight or Dictators back in those sorry on one level (and heaven on another) days look no further than these stinking examples of journalistic rock critic-mentality turdbombs. Somehow I get the feeling that most people who wrote about rock music from the eighties onward used to read CRAWDADDY religiously, holding it with one hand if you know what I mean.
Time for something more...copasetic? And one thing that really brings back the memories of just what goodness the seventies had in store for us all was none other than THE NEW YORK ROCKER. Don't laugh, for at one time the ROCKER was a pretty brave publication that concentrated not only on the up-and-coming New York underground groups who were cluttering up the stages of the local clubs, but also pop/rock acts of all kinds whose knowledge were usually confined to Greg Shaw columns and small-press fanzines that really never did make their way into the bedrooms of kids who most certainly needed to read 'em. Editor Alan Betrock and staff most certainly felt it worthy to expose these relative unknown to a bunch of kids who were more'n anxious to eat this music up no matter how much their parents and dee-jays feared and true, later on when the mode of the music changed thanks to unforeseen trends so did the mag, but when it was still running on an underground seventies pulse the ROCKER was one of the better rags covering the musical upheaval you KNOW that everybody in your vicinity wanted absolutely nothing to do with!

Well these two issues really do bring back da memories of mooching copies off of like-minded associates who knew enough to ditch you (and the music they once loved) once they got the sheepskins and headed off for real life. The March '81 ish was good if rather lacking in something (like the "New York" groups that the paper originally made their moolah with) though after thumbing through the thing I dunno if I wanna dig out my old Pylon single that eagerly. Simon Frith's John Lennon obit doesn't quite hit the target like Mick Farren's did, and given this is a rock 'n roll publication why the interview with the recently rooted out Abbie Hoffman??? I guess that the ROCKER really wanted to get a jump on the eighties even Newer than the New Left bandwagon with this 'un which is their biz of course, though I would have preferred that the space be devoted to some up and coming local act that might have sizzled my nodes 'stead of some warmed-over hippie who seemed rather creepy in some respects.

The April '82 ish with the Human Switchboard proudly featured on the front shows just how much the "underground" had twisted in a mere year. With the mode of the music changing the way it was (and the walls of the city shaking naught) it was more'n obvious that the sixties/seventies under-the-counterculture was dead, and although what eventually replaced it was more or less a pallid version of the original thrust you can see the sometimes abysmal morphing right before your very eyes in these pages. The last days of the post-Velvets underground era meets the onslaught of the trendies and hardcores right before your very eyes, making for a strange storm front that seemed promising enough though by the late-eighties all I could find within the remnants were lame musical acts coming out on every front.

Again I sure wish that these bozos woulda been reviewing many more local acts other'n the Fleshtones (I mean, they coulda just gone to CBGB and found the most derivative yet refreshing act nobody's heard of and done a nice feature on 'em!), because for the life of me I don't think those Adam and the Ants and Police articles really hold up here in the post-worth living world of the teens no matter how hard I try to squint my eyes!
'n finally for today's trek into rockist reading matter, this comic book done up in a neat spiral binding just like some handbook for operating that dishwasher you ditched in 1986. It ain't just ANY cosmic book either, but a French language offering called BLACK OUT that just happ'd to have been written by none other'n that French miscreant everybody seemed to like Serge Gainsbourg! It's all in French but you can still look at the hotcha pix drawn by a Jacques Armand, and considering how a good portion of it is practically word-free it ain't like you're gonna be missing much anyway. Great art, nice "feel" too, and it has a great fashionable look to it because it was created (1982) right before the female gender were told by their elders that they hadda look ugly for the sake of the sex 'n men hadda like it no matter what lest they be forever sent to the land of the geldings. Sorta comes off like an old Roxy Music album cover fleshed out into a nice mid/late-seventies story of steamy decadence, at least before that word started to refer to incestuous relationships with one's five-year-old detailed in glowing, progressive-sounding terms.
Nice bitta housecleaning you've been doing there Steve...if you find any more old mags you swept under the rug well, you know where you can dump your trash now, don't you???

* in fact, this very article is the first ever place I encountered the very existence of the Stooges' "LA Blues" if you can believe that!

**in fact, this very review is the first ever place I encountered the very existence of Savage Rose if you can believe that!

***although the Velvets retrospective by Robot Hull which appeared in an '81 issue was passable, their 1987 cover story was one of the most puke-inducing "homages" that I had ever encountered in a bigtime mag. The worst part about it being you know whatever was left of the folks at CREEM shoulda known better, but in order to placate the squeaky clean crowd they just hadda stoop to dishing out zilch-dimensional drivel like that special issue which, if anything, attempted to sully the VU mystique by transplanting it into late-eighties thought processes!!! And people wonder why I grew to loathe the rock press like I eventually did!

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