Thursday, November 01, 2018

BOOKS REVIEW! SLASH : A PUNK MAGAZINE FROM LOS ANGELES by Brian Rottinger and J.C. Gabel (Hat and Beard Press, 2016); RIPPED AND TORN (Ecstatic Peace Library, 2018)

Ever since Hozac's much-needed and oft-referred to (at least in my parts) DENIM DELINQUENT collection it seems as if a few more comps of fanzine ephemera have popped up on the good ol' softcover front. As you can probably guess, I'm more'n just plain "happy" to receive both the SLASH and RIPPED AND TORN books---in fact I'm just OVERJOYED at the mere thought that these tomes for the times are out and about thus saving me from having to read my issues of SPOONFUL and NIX ON PIX over and over, not that such an act is anything but pleasurable in my own suburban slobbish way...

Both SLASH and RIPPED AND TORN were fanzines that really (no foolin'!) served their purpose on their particular rock 'n roll fronts. Both debuted right when punk rock was starting to slip into the imaginations of more'n just a few ranch house kiddies thanks to the rock press for once letting its Meltzerian side shine. After all, ya gotta remember that for once reams of publicity was being dished out to everyone from the Dictators and Patti Smith to the Ramones and Flamin' Groovies and like, suddenly there was a reason to hang out a bit longer at the record shop. And as history doth predicted, both publications 86'd when the generation of p-rock these mags championed had grown into quite a character that in many ways might have been the very antithesis to the type of music that got 'em on the ol' rah-rah bandwagon inna first place. Ya also gotta admit that both of these periodicals sure captured the whole mood and mode of the time not only with their unchained fannish enthusiasm, but with their better'n average writing capabilities (or at least better'n the standard college paper faux hip kid writing about James Taylor in the lamest Robert Christgau-derived style extant) which came off as the logical conclusion to the Golden Age of Rock Writers neo-gonz style that was captivating more'n just a "few" serious rock minds out there!

The SLASH book coulda been better. But then again, why should I be complainin' considerin' just how much work and effort went into this gigantic collection featuring a slew of photos and reminiscences as well as hey...even some copy taken directly from the pages of that infamous paper. But sheesh, I kinda wish this 'un woulda been a collection that reprinted the original pages of ALL the issues as they appeared with maybe a few rear-view mirror rose colored comments stuck in-between. That would have been a Herculean task but hey, it woulda been well worth it.

Still it's a good 'nuff tribute to a mag that, at least in my own opinion, reflected the whole El Lay under-the-underground rock 'n roll attitude and various other sundries rather spiffily. Maybe not as good as one-time adversary BACK DOOR MAN did (well, Phast Phreddie eventually became a SLASH contributor but wha' th' hey) but still fantastic enough. I particularly enjoyed the way they covered the various forms of "rebel music" that editor Claude Bessy (a man worthy of hefty punkitude rehabilitation and maybe a collection of his entire output) felt boff enough to appear in these tabloid pages, and why this guy got the big thumbs down from more'n a few wags out there I'll never know. By the way, have any copies of Bessy's pre-SLASH reggae fanzine ANGELINO DREAD ever surfaced? That one must be one of the most talked about yet rarely seen under-the-counterculture rags since TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, and at least copies of that have surfaced as frequent visits to various "High Six" posts will certainly attest to..

BEST POINT: the care and love that was put into each and every page of this what with the rare snaps, fliers and other bits of late-seventies gunk that makes you wish you were front and center in the El Lay underground rock epicenter 'stead of home posing in front of your bedroom mirror. WORST POINT: the smaller-than-small reprinted pages that do appear which make the print in some of my own crudzines look like the READER'S DIGEST OLD FOGY'S EDITION! SECOND WORST POINT- what they left out, like the Roky Erickson interview or those Chris D reviews which sure make me wish he took a more rockscribe approach in his career choice!

On the udder hand, the RIPPED AND TORN collection is everything I woulda expected as far as paying homage to a classic rock fanzine'd go, not only with each and every page properly reproduced in its original color (when applicable you dunce!), but with the expected addendum which thankfully doesn't overpower the entire reason for this book existing in the first place. As far as punk rock fanzines go RIPPED AND TORN did follow the logical path one should have expected of a fanzine of this sort, heavily steeped not only in the local English fare but the early Amerigan progenitors (garage band rock, Lou, Patti, Ramones, Groovies, Modern Lovers...) and other interesting asides that perhaps other rags at the time felt unworthy of publicizing. As in SLASH, that expected fannish approach to rock both old and new is more'n just plainly evident and wooshes you through a time when, if only for a short period, rock 'n roll was as valid as it was in the mid/late-sixties when snatching up Seeds and Stooges platters seemed just an everyday affair in the lives of suburban slob kids who needed a music that fit into their everyday existences and UP WITH PEOPLE just wasn't cutting it!

Actually the mag seemed to squeeze nicely into the new generation of punk what with the coverage of newer influences on the local scene such as Crass, but somehow you could tell that it, like SLASH were somehow gonna be wooshed away by the new anarchist brigade which (even though we might not have totally let it sink into our thick skulls at the time) was nothing but the old and rancid hippie dream being relived only without the patchouli. Maybe it's good these mags croaked when they did considering just how the next generation of punk fanzines (or "'zines" as they began to be known as since "fanzine" was sooooo oldtymey collectors oriented or something like that) never did live up to the original thrust of it all. Sheesh, with both MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL and FLIPSIDE catering to the worst aspects of mind addled socially conscious world saving youth without the BS detection that seemed part and parcel to the kids who came before WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT!!!! And let's not talk about the other "zines" which more or less seemed like old feminist handbooks and newsletters converted into music mags with that overbearing MESSAGE still firmly in place.

Hope these two books pan out to the point where maybe even they'll get hefty points from those snobs at the big city papers who wouldn't have touched any of these wares back when they were up and about. Perhaps then more of these efforts will come out and like, I could sure use a complete bound collection of not only the aforementioned SPOONFUL, NIX ON PIX and TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE but such wonders as NEW AGE, PENETRATION and of course CAN'T BUY A THRILL. C'mon entrepreneurs out there...can't you smell a veritable GOLDMINE even when I point it out at ya????

No comments: