Thursday, January 12, 2006


Gotta say one thing about the GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK CRITICISM (to paraphrase Eddie Flowers in some long-buried mid-eighties newsletter of his), and that's although this undoubtedly GA of rockscribing coincided w/what many on the home front found to be the unmitigated worst time for rock & roll ever (at least until the eighties made rock & roll flaccid for good!), said downspiral for music certainly didn't affect the vast array of classic rockist screeds being pumped out by a wide array of upstart punkoids who certainly had their planets aligned straight enough when detailing to you exactly why group "X" wasn't worth the salt you pounded for it. And let's face it, but it was the downfall of this selfsame GA that in part inspired none other'n ME (I really wish this blog had the capability of making words blink on and off in a vast array of colorful NOTICE ME hues, because I certainly do deserve it!) to pick up the pen and start writing about obsessive/compulsive groups that most others out there were ignoring on-purpose, and although frankly I don't think I succeeded in my perhaps limp attempts to single-handedly restore the art of rock writing as a purely rockist form to its former self, (if you're a liberal) you can always congratulate me for these gosh-honest tries because "my heart was in the right place!" But still, all I gotta say is that "ONE MERE PARAGRAPH OF MY WRITING STYLE AND SWERVE OBLITERATES TEN CURRENTLY-RUNNING BLOGS WITH ONE HARD-FELT SWOOP!", and if you don't believe me just check out a good hunkerin' portion of the blog competition and see just how sterile and hackneyed moderne, post-"zine" culture VILLAGE VOICE/SPIN-influenced/promoted rock "criticism" can be. And these same doofuses think they're carrying on some sort of "tradition" and "precedent" set by the late-sixties trailblazers who were nothing more than these "editors'" very own Davy Crockett and Dan'l Boone of the printed, HAH!

So maybe that's why I like to pull such old chestnuts as TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS (as well as a few choice classic fanzines) outta the fire when I'm being dragged down to the bottom of the muddy river after being weighted by way too much current-day lily-livered preachy piousness (and pseudo-decadent swill) being passed off as "honest rock criticism." And yes, the writing found within such a book (and such fanzines) are, as I've said, "old" (the book being pub'd 1971, hardly a year for banner rock & roll but like Eddie said tops for rock scribbling!) and perhaps ANCIENT to a variety of young shrubs who must've been negative-fifteen-years-old when this book was unleashed on the flea-bitten hippie populace, but then again most of the best things around today are "old"...I mean, where would we be w/o "old" tee-vee shows or "old" punk rock or "old" people who grew up with this stuff for that matter, and I gotta admit that when this humble blogschpieler hisself feels "old" all he hasta do is pick up a book like TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS and alla the sudden he's BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, and this time he's calling the shots!

TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS is not only a great encapsulation of exactly what was RIGHT w/rockscreeding nigh on three-and-a-half decades back, but it really hits the heart w/regards to the bared-wire essence of it all. "It all" being the total energy and proto-punk NERVEGRATE that drove a young/impressionable person like myself to not only the music but the writers who were telling me all about it (and in the best, booger-nosed and non-PC-est ways possible) in the first place. I mean, this book is just dripping Richard Meltzer (now sexagenarian lead singer for Smegma) and Iggy Stooge influx to the point of condensation that I couldn't see just how the average ironed-hair girls aping the Melanie look coulda gone for a book like this one iota...

...or maybe they could! Y'see, TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS tries to cover most/some if not all of the early-seventies bases regarding the public's taste (or lack of it), so we do get a nice and tasty slab of Bobby Sherman's "My Secret Love List" (page 86) where he says "Last, but by no means least, in my heart and on my secret 'Love List' is the way I feel about each and every one of you!" Of course the book ain't totally made up of such heart-rendering caca (which sounded bad when Mark Lindsay was dedicating his sax solo to a girl he didn't even know, but at least Paul Revere and the Raiders made up for it with their high energy music!), so's we get plenty of Meltzer (either as Meltzer or under two pseudos inc. Borneo Jimmy and Lars Tush, not Tusb!), writings directly influenced by Meltzer (including acolyte Bobby [here Robert!] Abrams and Steve Sidorsky), references to Meltzer (the topical index to THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK printed en toto) and loads more'n your average horse-blindered blog-reading moderne-day bunsnitch could POSSIBLY stand! And if I dare say so, TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS is "thee" perfect antidote to Ann Powers and all that post-hippie "coolness" ol' hatchet face oozes outta every unclogged pore!!!

And you can bet TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS spares no semicolon in giving you the entire scope/range of early-seventies miasma that """I""", but not necessarily you, hadda grow up in! True you get loads on the early-seventies highpoints (like THREE Stoogepieces, one by fan club prez Natalie Stoogeling, another a beaut of a makeup w/more truth than you could expect from none other'n Meltzer, and the last nothing but Jackie Curtis and Rita Redd talking back/forth about Iggy and his importance to the coming gulcheral upheaval taking place as we speak), but then again you get a slice of mid-Ameriga at its snooziest (pic of ultra-square mom 'n son w/latter holding banner displaying vulgar patriotic sentiments) which is sometimes spiced up by the writer in question whether it be Danny Fields on Mrs. Miller (p. 201) and an interview with a rock & roll record burning minister conducted by Deday LaRene's cousin/niece? Janet (a bonafide teenager) who, after noticing that all of the records being melted were at least ten/fifteen years old, asks the reverend if he's heard the MC5! Yes, TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS is a book that will fill you in on the true trials and tribulations of early-seventies living more than a double bill of BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN and BILLY JACK (with maybe THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH thrown in for good measure) would ever dare!

(Which reminds me of a funny aside...for some reason in a history class back during my stool days the subject of BILLY JACK and the sequel entitled THE TRIAL OF BILLY JACK came up for discussion, I think in relation to My Lai or whatever it was called and Lt. Calley's role in that slaughter. I hadn't seen either of 'em but I recall the more bleedheart amongst the classmates discussing it with the teacher, himself a bitta a post-New Deal Generation lib I surmise, with total gusto. The only thing I can clearly remember from that class "rap session" was when the aforementioned teach said something along the lines of "If they had shown the shot up dead bodies in that mass grave, the movie would have gotten an 'R' would have looked like lasagna or something!" Somehow, that line sticks in my mind even this far down the road, though I was now able to eat lasagna which I previously had abhorred...and God only knows why!)

True, some of this book tends to snooze (the Byrds interview doesn't quite gel the way I thought it would but considering that I never cozied up to the late-sixties variety maybe it's I who has the mental blockheadedness fully in gear), but as editor Eisen (who also contributes his own material including a writeup on Liberace [page 253]) says, you can do a John Cage on this one and pop in anywhere and go forth at your own rate. (Funny, you can say the same thing about any issue of BLACK TO COMM!) So if you're not really inna mood to read about Mrs. Miller or comb through the drug/Manson refs (though do not pass up Abrams' Manson spew which starts the thing's as fictitious yet engrossing as anything Meltzer has written!) you can just SKIP IT! and concentrate on the high energy all you want. And the entire trip's great because not only do you get to read a whole lotta unexpurgated rockist thumbnose that's been more or less whitewashed from the entire rock critique scam a la some Stalinist purge of a deviationist, but you also get to read the roots of ME! which I know is something you've always wanted to do. And aren't you glad that, although you can't easily enough read rock critiques by the likes of Meltzer or Tosches w/any ease these days, you CAN read my to-the-point dissections of Amerigan (and International) rockism wonders? Be GRATEFUL for once in your alternative life!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ah, how nice to be recognized, even 35 years later - if we all knew then what we all know now.....

Thanks for your mention.

Steve Sidorsky (in toto)