Sunday, September 28, 2014

IT'S FANZINE FANABLA TIME AGAIN (and boy do I feel sorry for you having to miss out on yet another info-packed post on all of the recent recordings and gunk I've been listening to lo this past week)!!!!!!

You're probably wondering why I'm doing another Fanzine Fanabla post so soon (having cooked one up only a few mere months back and like, I usually go years between the things). Well, I'll tell you why! Y'see, back in the days before the gift of internet gave us instant information to whatever we wanted at the tips of our booger-laden fingertips, there were a buncha guys out there who for whatever fan-inspired reason they may have had, actually saved their monies, worked extra hard, and put their opinions regarding a whole slew of musical ideas, forms and styles that just weren't getting the "hipster" ROLLING STONE coverage to PRINT if only because they had a great LOVE for the music being created and produced that couldn't be expressed by merely listening to the things! These people, besides being especially thrifty with their already scarce lucre, toiled above and beyond the call of duty to make their opinions known to the common man (or at least a few people who they happened to know) as well as lay out pages and clip photos from other mags to use, and many times these idea-driven beings collated and stapled their publications in the privacy of their fart-encrusted bedrooms and WHY??? Just so you could read what they wrote about some long obscure album by some long forgotten group or even a new act with a new platter out who you probably never did care about and never would in a million years!
And so you, in your smugness and oneupmanship snitty little way,  IGNORED every blasted word and every ding dong issue these kids, who knew they were not going to make a profit or even break even publishing these things, wrote up if only for the express purpose that you might be inspired enough to go out and pick up a Seeds album at the local National Record Mart 'stead of the latest Bonnie Raitt blahzer you most certainly had your sights set on!

And yeah, I can hear you saying just like Ed Norton did after he told Ralph Kramden he wasn't gonna vote "Well, if they only knew that I wasn't going to read it they coulda SAVED themselves alla that money an' time printing the fanzines up!" but that ain't the point. The "point" is that these fanzine publishers and contributors are just as much the REAL heroes of rock et roll as the one-shot garage bands and musical miscreants they were writing about, and if somebody (like me) doesn't  mention these home-produced publications that might have topped 200 copies max who will other'n their mothers! And THAT is but one reason why I'll occasionally set some time aside and detail these long-ignored publications of the past even if it ain't "cool" to educate rock 'n roll fans as Patrick Analream once writ to my utter amazement.

Besides, I find reading a good cranked out fanzine with a powerful gonzoid approach just as invigorating as listening to a 1969 side by some guys in their knotty pine basement who just discovered the Stooges yesterday and found the true meaning of rock 'n roll happiness. And even though I should know better I kinda get the feeling that you would feel the exact same way too.
Starting off today's 'zine bash is this European import, one which has been hailed as an important home made rag in the annals of home made rags yet I get the sneakin' suspicion that most of you people don't know a blasted thing about it. That's because this rag was printed in France and is thus written in the local vernacular, and as we all know that nobody who reads this blog knows the French language because nobody who reads this blog was stupid enough to take the language as an "elective" while in high school. Naw, it was advanced jackoff 101 for you guys, but don't let that stop you from getting hold of this glossy mid/late-seventies fanzine because hey, you can always look at the pictures!

And given that I've been looking at a lotta pictures in these fanzines because I am not familiar with the mother tongue they were written in, it ain't like I'm at any loss to settle back and enjoy these issues of ATEM which gave us the lowdown on a whole slew of interesting experimental rockist excursions from the mid-to-late seventies! What EUROCK was to the United States and IMPETUS was to England, ATEM was to France and I must admit that these people did a pretty slam-bang job in writing about a whole slew of artists and acts nobody else wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole, even if the staff's tastes did tend to sometimes seep into the gutter of Southern California country rock as an Eagles feature would testify to!

But Hotel Californication or not, ATEM certainly was what you would call a great fanzine effort what with the slick paper and professional printing, and you'll have to admit that hardly anyone else at the time was tipping off their readers to everything from the likes of the Rock In Opposition groups to Magma or Peter Hammill let alone Philip Glass, who during his pre-Dalai Lama days wasn't exactly getting much hotcha press anywhere on the globe. ATEM even digged deep into the well of punk rock proper as well making this one of those magazine offerings for just about everyone in the entire family, which really would have helped if the family just happened to be Mel Lyman's.

There's also a book which collects the choicest nuggets that this 1976-1979 publication had to offer that is available somewhere in this world of ours, but then again those collections never were as good as settling down with the real artifact in your hands perusing the best you can while some choice side was spinning on the turntable right next to you...
Well, what do you know! Another issue of NEW AGE, and one from the early-eighties at that. Hmmmm...its got interviews with the Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell and U2's Adam Clayton which I won't hold against 'em, as well as some local Connecticut scene reports but WAIT!!!!! NEW AGE emanated from the green pastures of North Carolina so like what's all this Connecticut stuff doin' here anyway???? I guess that this magazine is not the Nancy Foster-edited classic after all but another fanzine which just happened to have the exact same title which really did lead to a whole lot of confusion on my part!!! You'd think there would have been enough fanzine titles to go around, but then again I guess not! Awww, it really ain't that bad and in fact is a whole lot better'n many of these "crudzines" that were proliferating the mailboxes of the day, and despite the name I give it a whole load of high marks that I probably would not have if only out of spite of being punk'd like this!
Some people might have thought, given the mind-addled capabilities of some of the participants on the late-seventies English punk rock scene, that the fanzines that were coming outta that particular area and timescope were about as readable as my sophomore high school term paper on electronic music (y'know, the one with "Sien Ra"!). Frankly, I've discovered that the vast majority of the ones I've read were of a rather high quality both in production and execution. It's pretty obvious that the people who were cranking out these fanzines knew their rock history and based their writing style on the likes of Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray if not Mick Farren and Jonh Ingham. And let me tell you, that was something which was truly a welcome relief from the "mainstream" college paper hacks of the day still wallowing around in Jann Wenner's hippiedippieland values thinking about music in terms of flowery flamingos and up the system, man (wait...we ARE the system now so forget all I said!).

And if you dare ask me, I would say that most of these fanzines were every bit the equal of the likes of BACK DOOR MAN, DENIM DELINQUENT, THE NEXT BIG THING and many more as far as delivering those heart (and mind)-felt missives regarding those various rock 'n roll acts that still get my heart palpatain' even a good thirtysome years after I was supposed to be too old to let this trivial goo matter to me anymore.

NEGATIVE REACTION's a fanzine that certainly ranked as one of the better reads that were comin' outta Ol' Blighty during them late-seventies days of high energy rage. I wonder how this one slipped by me the way it did, but at least this issue (#4, November 1977) delivers on the goods what with the space given to some of the better acts of the English punk scene (like Savage Pencil's Art Attacks) not forgetting precious space on everything and everyone from recently kicked outta the Sex Pistols Glen Matlock to Stiff Records faveraves Roogalator, not forgetting a not-so-outta-the-place interview with Phil Manzanara regarding a now-Enoless 801. NEGATIVE REACTION has that proper blend of fannish yet intelligent writing coupled with the kinda rockist sensibilities that would naturally appeal to the breed of person who regularly tunes into this very blog, and one's gotta marvel at the quality and oomph that went into this particular magazine which (as all good fanzines do) makes me wanna read more and more from this particular stable.

Not only that, but there's a review of the very obscure Fellini's Hideous Mutations single which hasn't surfaced since those halcyon days, so you know that editor Jon Romney and crew knew where their true rockist values lied!

(Pssssst! Hey kid, if you want a FREE copy of the first issue of NEGATIVE REACTION just click here 'n do a li'l downloadin' yourself! It's a doozy of an ish if you ask me, and not only that but there are more fanzines of an English variety to be had if in case you are so inclined to read some of these rags that never did get out 'n about as much as they shoulda. Considerin' the nosedive in rock scribe screeding these past few decades, it's not only a public service that ESSENTIAL EPHEMERA is doing but a blessing because the more time ya spend reading these boffo old time fanzines the less time you're gonna spend reading Joel Selvin (is he still around???).
Whereas NEGATIVE REACTION shows just how interesting, past-connected and fresh the early English punk rock scene could have been, IN THE CITY, at least judging from this 1980 copy featuring the Poison Girls on the cover and on the free flexi, shows just how battle worn, weary and generally un-fun the now-politicized scene had become. I can hear some of you saying "well yeah, with all of the bad things that were going on in the world like the threat of nuclear annihilation and grilled steaks wouldn't  you TOO feel inhibited by the culture at large and want to rebel, only being able to enjoy yourself once the enemy has been VANQUISHED???  I can hear what you're sayin' Che, but that doesn't mean these punques hadda become a buncha tireless updates on the whole Carrie Nation dogooder mentality to the point where I could see a whole buncha 'em storming into my house and smashing my George Foreman Grill with a passion!

Sure it's got a nice layout, nice slick paper and a look and style to kill for (not forgetting that flexi!), but IN THE CITY also has that dire dank feeling of the eighties is already beginning to creep into the mix what with two pages by Crass' Penny Rimbaud giving us the ol "part of the problem or part of the solution" rap while fellow bandmember Steve Ignorant reviews the competition hating everything handed before him except Adam and the Ants. The lettercol sports something from the local Animal Liberation Front types who may have been sincere, but somehowin the back of my fevered imagination I wouldn't mind seeing 'em all infected with diabetes and then denying them any treatment that may have been gained by animal experimentation.

It's still a worthwhile read, if you want to know just how flaccid the English (and Amerigan, and Canadian, and...) scene could have been in the post-Sex Pistols era. I have the sneaking suspicion that the earlier issues of IN THE CITY were popping on all cylinders perhaps with the same sense of high energy fun 'n jamz that typified the music that was being produced at the time. And remember kids, it was only three years between this issue and some representative from Existencil Press telling the folks on the MRR radio show that in no way was the music being performed by Crass and associated bands within their sphere meant to be taken as "entertainment" was highly significant social commentary and nothing but, and if you DARE enjoy if for totally puerile purposes somebody was gonna come over to your place and give you a lecture and lecture you but good!
As far as the rest of the English fanzines of the seventies went well...surprisingly enough a good many of 'em were not whatcha'd call p-rock oriented at all, and I mean not one iota! Oh yeah, many of 'em might have featured a piece on the likes of Television or the Flamin' Groovies along with the West Coast fave raves who were still making an impact on the head scene over in Blighty, and I must admit that quite a few of these types of 'zines were rather good even if they weren't exactly covering my particularly cup of java. COMSTOCK LODE was one of these self-produced wonders that comes to mind, while I've been told that DARK STAR woulda been fine had Steve Burgess took over the thing and dumped alla that dope 'n Dead worship that made up the publication's meat 'n potatoes. And besides, with covers as hippydippy as theirs I'd be embarrassed to be caught inna bathroom with a copy to keep my company during my frequent doody duties!

Anyhoo, here are a coupla more English kinda-sorta pre-punk yet rock-y enough fanzines that I'm sure you might wanna know about when building up your own collection to show off to your mother. I have two other issues of FAT ANGEL other'n the one seen onna left...the first 'un's from '73 and features Iggy Pop on the cover and a story written by 'zine editor Andy Childs apologizing to his New Riders of the Purple Sage-bred readers for liking the Stooges so much when he most definitely shouldn't...after all, leave that punk worship to those nimrods at THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS and let's concentrate on the real heavy stuff, y'know? The other issue was from '79 and, along with the usual smattering of whatever was left of the hippie remnants there was a rather in-depth and appreciative piece on Jonathan Richman as well as the same interview with Crocus Behemoth of Pere Ubu fame conducted by Jim Jarmusch that popped up in THE NEW YORK ROCKER a few years earlier. If there ever was a mag that bent with the prevailing tide of underground tastemongering, FAT ANGEL certainly was it!

Nothing especially different from this particular FAT ANGEL than there was with the others. Lou Reed adorns the cover, though the piece of the Velvets that appears within ain't exactly groundbreaking the way those other pieces where Lou would talk about entering "the cloud" and how it would take a day to do "Sister Ray" with all of the preludes tossed in. Naturally there ain't that much else here to interest a hardcore rock 'n roller, but I ain't knocking these guys for giving it a hearty go of writing about music on an independent, stay away from the mainstream of fetid ideas level.

I didn't care that much for the issue of O.D. that I scarfed up about two or so decades back...too staid in the worst aspects of late-seventies British hippie mystical whooziz for my own personal tastes. But buy another one I did, and I gotta say that although it ain't as bad as I thought it would be it still lacks a certain warmth and funtime feeling that I certainly got reading DENIM DELINQUENT or many of the similar-minded seventies fanzines that I've had the please of coming across lo these many years. Well, I did like the piece on Van Der Graaf Generator even if I never really did cozy up to a good portion of what I have heard from them (outside of the oft-hyped NADIR'S BIG CHANCE) while the Man piece was a pretty good introduction for a guy like myself who was always scared off by their West Coast reputation.

And for the Man fans who were scared off by those punkian rumblings that were cropping up at the time well, the "introduction to punk" article presented here is yet another one of those roundups for the uninformed that reads just like every other piece written for the hippoid amongst us who was in such an induced coma (from too many sips of Boone's Farm no doubt!) who was totally unaware of everything outside of his private li'l commune. Nothing revelatory, but it does bring out the warm 'n toasties in ya. A nice reminder of a simpler, more pleasant time no doubt, but still rather tame compared with many of the fanzines, both punk and general, that were popping up with an alarming regularity during the mid-to-late seventies.
Remember that old saying "but will it play in Peoria"??? Well, I get the impression that HOOPLA played really well in that esteemed burgh because hey, HOOPLA originated from that very city and if the tastes these homegrown writers were any indication as to what the tastes of the rest of the populace held near 'n dear they the place must have been the swinginest spot in the entire Midwest!

Definitely in the same kultural strata as all of those other post-BACK DOOR MAN 'zines like TEENAGE RAMPAGE et. al., HOOPLA had that smart sense of where rockism stood in their mid-amerigan existences not to mention things like tee-vee, humor (or humour...y'see these guys were big Monty Python aficionados) and alla those other things that the intellectuals at MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL used to tell us was bourgeois and thus deserving of being crammed into the nearest oven! But we knew better now, dint we???

Naturally a lotta the then-hotcha new wave before it traipsed into "gnu wave" style of rockism gets covered...I mean, it wasn't like these guys were ROLLING STONE wannabes concerned with the plight of Jerry Garcia's missing finger 'r anything (and believe-you-me, being stuck in the decidedly anti-rock 'n roll clime of the Youngstown Ohio area I used to see people get giddy over the latest issue of STONE hitting the stands well into the nineties!), and I gotta admit that it sure is refreshing reading reviews written by people who remembered the great acts of the past (Velvet Underground, Roxy Music) and related them to the music that was busting out all over the map even though Jann Wenner's head was way too deep up his lover's hiney for him to notice!

Smart writing, entertaining analysis and a general ability to convey exactly why rock 'n roll was such an exhilarating mode of life juice for many a person back during the 1964-1981 period in world youth kultur. I for one wouldn't mind knowing more about this particular rag as well as the minds behind it, because the whole project comes off a whole lot more tastier than knowing the whys and wherefores behind the dolts at TOO FUN TOO HUGE that's for sure. And of course I wouldn't mind picking up all of the issues that unfortunately haven't made their way to my door (in case any of you happen to be cleaning your rooms out and are in need of a li'l filthy lucre to make your way through life or whatever else they're calling it these days...)
Did you have a small-run rock 'n roll fanzine in the seventies that might have gotten lost in the shuffle of alla the rest, a mag with a run of anywhere from three to thirteen that, although jam-packed with reviews and reminiscences on all of your favorite acts past and present got laughed at by any and all who espied it? Did you consider yourself a bedroom Bangs or Meltzer wannabe who had something to say and only a few bucks to say it? Well if you were, boy do I feel sorry for you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Chris , have you got any infos concerning FELLINI'S HIDEOUS MUTATIONS 7" ? What year ? record label ? type of music ? ...must be bloody hard to find that 7"...

Good to see you write about The french zine "ATEM" . I've only got the peter hammill issue ( with a great article on COnrad Schnitzler inside too.)