Thursday, May 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! DENIM DELINQUENT 1971-1976 by Jymn Parrett etc. (Hozac Books, 2016)

There usedta be this canard goin' 'round the enlightened rock circles of the seventies that went something like "the early parts of the fifties, sixties and seventies really produced some lame kinda music but man, the later half really made up for it with some super-duper sounds!" Those who touted this kinda/sorta fact would always point out (to boost their case natch!) the post-Big Band crooners, sexy gal singers and soft strains dominating the early days of the fifties while the latter portion was just overflowing with crazy rockabilly and instrumental rave up music. As far as the sixties went these same folk will bring up the teenage idol boy singers and other manufactured types keeping us all in bondage until the Beatles came to save us from all that inanity, and then the seventies with the singer songwriters and teenybopper acts gently numbing our minds until the punks swooped into rescue us at the last minute!

By the eighties well...the whole trip became too convoluted and watered down and for all intent purposes rock 'n roll had HAD IT even to the point where snazzy big city rockcrit types who were always on the lookout for something to boost their credo quit scouring the underbelly of rock and merely resorted to re-hashing press clippings of da biggies. A sad end, but after disco and FM AOR doing its best to kill off the species what else would you expect?

After years of pondering all this, I personally have come to the conclusion that the entire early decade bad/latter decade good theorem really was nothing but pure hooey concocted by a buncha hippie types who somehow wanted to make themselves feel better (y'know, they being members of that brave and proud generation who saved us all what with their selfless deeds like walking nude in public and living in communes 'stead of ranch houses)! After all, you can't argue that there was plenty of hot rock being made in the early sixties and early seventies that is perched at the top of at least my music listening pile (and some of it actually made it to the top of the charts!) while the latter portions of those years sure did have their aural turds to contend with unless you still have a soft spot in your heart for disco and pop schmooze in the "Afternoon Delight"/"Chevy Van" vein. Face it, there was always good and brain-digging rock 'n roll (and other) music being made throughout those good and bad years but as usual, you had to know where to look for it even if it might not have been on your radio dial or sister with the unicorn and rainbow poster on the wall's turntable.

And what I've said about rock 'n roll music can most certainly pertain to rock 'n roll writing. Well, kinda sorta again...I mean, thse so called dreg years of 1970-1975 might not have been as flash as the mid-sixties were, but you'd never know that by picking up a good rock 'n roll mag or fanzine and reading all of the praise that was being heaped upon not only the stars of yesteryear but the hard rock heroes of the day. I swear that if a buncha aliens landed on earth in 100,000 AD CE and found no recorded history left other'n a batch of old fanzines that survived the dreaded shockwave war of the 99th century via my closet (artifacts protected by a pile of old sweatclothes) they'd come to the conclusion that the music of those days was dominated by the likes of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and that the Eagles, Joni and the real big moolahmaking names of the day were nothing but strange abberations the less thought about the better!

So what does this all have to do with DENIM DELINQUENT? Actually plenty, for it was this mag along with a slew of other upstart fanzines of the day (off the top of my head FLASH, JAMZNEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS, HYPERION, TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, CAN'T BUY A THRILL, NIX ON PIX and BACK DOOR MAN) that set the stage for the high energy rock press that scurried around in the underground for at least a good six or so years. Like in CREEM magazine (perhaps the major anti-hippoid mentality rag on the stand them days), there seemed to be a loopy and snotty fun 'n jamz attitude present in DENIM DELINQUENT that the elder generation of youth seemed to up their snouts at, as if the likes of Iggy, Sky Saxon and even Black Sabbath could ever compete with the "First Family of Rock" Taylors and the rest of the downer 'lude generation acts that Jann Wenner was hyping on a narcissistic laid back populace during those rather sorry times. And if you ask me, back in 1971 we all could have used a whole lot more DENIM DELINQUENT and a whole lot less ROLLING STONE ifyaknowaddamean...

But then again DENIM DELINQUENT wasn't written for the ROLLING STONE kinda reader who equated George McGovern or Richard Nixon for that matter with Mick Jagger in terms of sociopolitical relevance, but for an audience that nobody seemed to be catering to at the time...mainly (as the mag always said) "little goofs"! Yeah, suburban slobs like you and me or better yet the "Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids" who were looked down upon by the more sophisticated than thou gang because they were so 1950s old fashioned or something like that. Thankfully that entire reg'lar kid everyday rock 'n fun atty-tood roars on in each and every page of this collection of everything (and more) this "roxine" gave us, and for that we should all be glad that our newsprint originals (of at least the first two issues) won't have to be dragged out to risk crumbling even more because the entire seven-ish-plus run of DD (and even more!) can be found here and in pretty spiffy quality as well!

Well as far as "quality" goes maybe I could complain that the editors didn't try looking for a better copy of Beaver Cleaver's wedding photo (issue #5) complete with an appearance by not only Wally but Eddie, but why nitpick? After all, this book is just bursting with rock 'n roll energy to the point where you too will be searching out heretofore unknown albums and groups based on Jymn etc.'s opines and like, if a rag can motivate you to get up and movin' and rockin' even at the last stage in the game then well, said magazine certainly did its duty now dontcha think?

Like I said a couple of paragraphs above the first two issues were done up in newsprint style, but even though they all have probably yellowed worse than that issue of PAT THE BRAT you left on the patio all summer they're pretty fantab considering they were early tries, and the information popped out on acts ranging from the Kinks (in brilliant neo-Meltzer-speak too!) to Alice Cooper and the MC5 is not only pertinent but gets into a "dimension" that mirrors the late-teen rock mindset of the day just as much as Iggy did. The interviews are pretty impressive especially considering they were being conducted by a buncha "amateurs", not only the one done with local fifties revivalists Bolt Upright and the Erections (how many groups with BEVERLY HILLBILLIES-derived names can you think up?---Dash Riprock for one) but the one done with none other'n Monty Python's own Michael Palin who seems to be the only Pythonite that anyone could really talk to without being verbally sodomized. The Seeds overview in #2 is especially invigorating especially when you considering just how looked down upon Sky Saxon and Co. were throughout the years, and the Canadian Content (in this case Pagliaro and Charlebois, the latter who I have been interested in hearing for some time though money always does have a say in these things) is something that always perked this mag up considering its er...local pride!

It's sure great to see issue #3 reproed here, especially since the one I have was really messed up to the point where a few pages were downright unreadable! Despite the mimeo reproduction the writing (and even layout) stands firm, complete with a New York Dolls cover story, Jymn's impressions of his European trip (mainly watching English rock shows on tee-vee!) and more Canadiana we can all enjoy, especially the page-long writeup of the Haunted's classic single "125" which we've first heard and love via PEBBLES a good eight or so years after this magazine hit the mailboxes. And of course there's the usual Mott the Hoople appreciation that seems to have been included due to some strange international law of the day requiring fanzines to include at least one article on Ian Hunter and band per issue!

The El Lay (actually heavy metal bulwark La Verne California) issues of DENIM DELINQUENT took quite an upswing in quality (offset printing a la the early issues of BACK DOOR MAN which they resembled in more ways than one) and the writing and Jymn's art even seemed to improve with the move. Maybe it was the warm weather or the decadent atmosphere but the mag really improved with the trip. The Iggy and Ron Asheton interviews (issues 4 and 5 respectively) were high-larious (especially the Iggy one since it was pretty obvious he was high which only brought out more of his...Iggyness!) while the rock colouring pages were a neat idea especially for those of us who were still stuck in kiddieland even though our hormones seemed to be telling us otherwise! Again the reviews were top notch and talk-to-you revelations as to where your hard-earned should go, while the articles (even Dee Daack's piece on Paul McCartney) were fannish yet intelligent, the bootleg coverage hotcha especially for a aficionado of the form like myself, and for one thing it was sure nice to see MIKE NESMITH getting some coverage for once especially since a lotta snoots seemed to think of him as a washed up ex-Monkee for years on end!

And for Stooge watchers, the re-appearance of all of the Iggy material that made up a good portion of #5 is most certainly worth your while, even if the nude photos of him taken at the Whisky were too dark and blurry!

By #6 it was back to Canada (this time Toronto) and an issue with Gene Simmons on the cover. Nice article too even if you think that Kiss weren't exactly the heavy metal saviors you were hoping for but eh, it's all fine and dandy reading. Also popping up are the Sensational Alex Harvey Band getting some space right before their fall into nada as well as the reformed Blue Cheer and Rush, a band I never really did cozy up to but I will say it's sure more fun reading about 'em here than it is listening to 'em! Not only that but the Good Rats and Keith Richard (!!!) for that matter also make appearances, and you can bet that Parrett's art was improving by leaps and bounds by this time to the point where like, you would have thought the big mags woulda been givin' him COMMISSIONS 'r sum'pin. Tops of this ish for me is the Lester Bangs review of Lou Reed's SALLY CAN'T DANCE which was one of those over-the-top pieces that Bangs would send to fanzines because CREEM wouldn't publish anything like this in a millyun years. Prepare to be offended---you deserve it! (And this issue should be noted for being the first in which future Barracuda Jeremy Gluck contributed, this time on the new Iggy Pop Fan Club outta San Francisco!)

The supplement to #6 (which was mentioned in #5 which only adds to the confusion) made for a nice compliment to the actual issue what with an Eno cover story appreciation as well as Tom Bingham's review of the infamous Benny Bell "Shaving Cream" single that doubled up on the ol' double entendres making them quadruple entendres more or less.

Considering that the original mag was done up digest size the enlarged print seen in the book certainly does not strain on the eyeballs, and as usual you will find this one a good guide as to find out whether or not those bargain bin albums of the past are worth your while to get (I got the Churls based on Parrett's writeup, and maybe you should too!).

The final DENIM DELINQUENT was also a digest sized affair, and it sure continued riding the seventies zeitgeist what with the cover story on the Kinks ca. SLEEPWALKER, more Kiss, Pagliaro, Iggy and even a Japanese Aerosmith q&a reprint. There's also a bit on Thundermug, a Canadian act who made some rock mag waves back inna mid-seventies even though by the time this issue came out I think they were for all purposes dead and buried! My favorite article of the ish just has to be the anti-Patti Smith one where Parrett rails on about how, after her Toronto appearance where they waited for her hours in the pouring rain, she just hadda slip into her detached decadent star pose and takes the gifts that Parrett and his pal Mark Jones made for her (a bone necklace and Flamin' Groovies t-shirt) without even acknowledging the givers' existence before slithering into her limo! I really woulda liked to have seen the interview with Patti that Jymn was threatening to print in the upcoming issue which reportedly made her out to be a rather pompous entity, but alas the mag was going down the proverbial fanzine tubes at this time even though something that resembled a cover for #8 (featuring live snaps of the Clash and Ted Nugent!) survive somewhere...

The additional prozine articles Parrett wrote on the Sex Pistols and Cheap Trick to Blue Oyster Cult and (of course) Pagliaro fill out the book making for a nice cap which makes me come DENIM DELINQUENT hadda terminate so soon and right when we really needed it? And why oh why didn't Parrett become a great rock scriber in the Lester Bangs/Richard Meltzer tradition, especially since we sure could have used his opines to guide us through many a year of soggy releases! But hey, at least we got this book to read, and its energy's gonna be lighting up many a dark night huddled in my boudoir while the boombox spin and I try to make even more sense outta a life that really doesn't mean much, other'n listening to hotcha sounds and reading high energy opines such as the ones you'll find within these pages that is.

A definite "get it" (see link above, and hurry), you little goof!


Jim Parrett said...

Thanks Chris for your insightful and entertaining review. I forgot much of what you wrote about! So thanks for bringing it all back. Fun times indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write up. I wouldn't otherwise have known of the existence of this fine book and managed to to get one of the last copies of the original run today (only one UK distributor seemed to be carrying it). Will be reading it while spinning the latest Fearless Leader platter (Deranged) - came out a few years back but only got mine this week. 10 plays in and it's still wiping the floor with me. As per usual, Sarge, Alien and the boys deal with the big issues of the day with their customary tact and sensitivity.