Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MAGAZINE REVIEW! ROCK SCENE, JULY 1975 ISSUE (still only 75 cents!)

You can tell that I'm scraping the bottom of the proverbial trashcan of seventies kultur by reviewing yet another newsstand wrap, but as Mussolini once said, eh! I mean that little bitta pertinent factoid's certainly TRUE, but once you get down to the bare facts why should anyone lose any sweat over it! Given that this is a blog that's devoted to exposing the nitty gritty of the best high energy exponents of the fifties, sixties, seventies and even beyond, why not spend some time discussing these artyfacts of past accomplishment especially since they blow away (calm down Dave!) all of the laurel-resting and general antipathy towards the rock ideal that have been going on ever since the jaded seventies gave way to the Mickey Mouse eighties.

I've blabbed on and on about the overall attitude and style of ROCK SCENE in past a search for my previous opines since I'm to lazy to link any up myself, but for now let's talk about this particular July '75 ish which naturally displays the same sense of wonderment that was custom made for not only the ugly low-IQ remedial farting kids too cubed out to even belong to the Audio-Visual Club, but those like myself who wanted to rise above all that!

None other than Dame Elton John's on the cover which only goes to remind you not only just how long that particular buttwipe has been in the public eye, but how he was being used to push magazines to unaware teenbos who probably actually thought he was hetero back then. Here John's all dolled up as the Pinball Wizard which also goes to remind one of that big TOMMY push that was going on in '75, a year that in many ways coulda been the worst of times if you hadda rely on radio, friends and family to tell you what was "good for you", but WONDERFUL if you had developed a mind of your own and were willing to grab a piece of that big juicy glorious universe for your very own. (Hmmmm, even I'm impressed with that, and I should be since I swiped that line from Nick Tosches!)

Of course Ken Russell's film gets the royal treatment and you can always ignore that if your own personal constitution is lacking a preamble, but for me I always go for the juicy underbelly of it all first and leave the scraps for you lower menials. First place I go is Lenny Kaye aka "Doc Rock"'s column where those very same blobs of unbridled fat cells that I mentioned in the previous paragrah get to ask the Patti Smith guitarist questions about groups that I'm sure Kaye never gave the time of day to outside of his column! Naturally it's all fun, big-guy-mingles-with-the-hoi-polloi stuff, with smart questions like "Whatever happ'd to the Modern Lovers album?" being followed by groupie wannabes asking where they could write to Uriah Heap! Sure shows you what kind of a chasm existed between the good and the bad during those days of snide.

Also on my hotcha list is Wayne County's advice column which is a hoot in itself as Mr. County answers queries (no pun intended) sent in by fat suburban kids of "questionable" gender inquiring about everything from the right kind of eyeliner and rouge to use to their strange fascination with the new gym teacher. Somehow I think that no psychiatrists, clergymen, teachers or experts of any kind were consulted in the crafting of the advice given since County's remarks certainly don't jibe with the kind that Ann and Abby would dish out! But eh, once you boil down to it County sure makes a lot more sense than that Dr. Bryan guy who used to do "Into Your Head" for CIRCUS around the same nanosecond.

So what else is there besides the pictures? Marc Zakarin does a column regarding the import releases of the day telling of what new albums are not going to arrive at your local disc emporium unless you happen to live in Paris, while JAMZ/ROCK MARKETPLACE/NEW YORK ROCKER's very own Alan Betrock had his own column regarding collecting those black slabs o' disc, this time talking about such esoterica that used to really confuse the bejabbers outta me like non-LP b-sides! Donald Lyons does the moom pitcher column (not so hot this time unless you have a thing for Hollywood flotsam like THE WAY WE WERE) while none other than Lance Loud gives his impressions on...Black Oak Arkansas!

But hey, I still like ROCK SCENE for that cliched myriad assortment pix I'm always talking about, and there are plenty of 'em from the fruity (Elton hamming it up with Neil Sedaka and Monti Rock III acting beautiful because he finally got his hit record) to the hard-edged (Aerosmith trying to be the Dolls, the Dolls trying to be communists!). Keeping with the commercial aims of this magazine there are tons of snaps of the guys in Led Zep and their manager Peter Grant trying to act human and all, but even those make for passing fun while you're getting to some of the more attuned to this blog matter at hand. The page on the Television/Mumps show at CBGB was pretty good for a couple of reasons, first being that I didn't know that there was a different awning on the club before the more famous one was put up shortly after, plus I gotta give Keith Moon credit for hanging out there (with Cyrinda Fox!) long before it became the new hotcha "to-be-seen" place to be photographed not only in the pages of ROCK SCENE but elsewhere!

The "New Bands" section is always educational because you sometimes get to see a few photos of some of those under-the-cover groups who used to play CBGB and Max's but never went anywhere (other'n perhaps a member or two to a newer, more successful outfit). This time Tuff Darts, the Harlots of 42nd Street (the second go 'round for 'em and I'm not even mentioning all of the group spinoffs to come!) and Rags get the publicity amidst the usual bunch of groups already well-known (Rush) or trying to make it big even though they're from Podunk Illinois that get slapped into this section, and hey it's always fun to look at these long-haired hippie types slapping on some makeup so they could pass for glam innovators in their local burghs! Makes a great Halloween costume if you ask me.

Who could also forget all of those ads for corny iron-ons to glitter, horoscopes and miniature posters that used to appear not only here but in "sister" magazine HIT PARADER! I'll say one thing, the advertisers for this mag really had their target audience down pat if they thought clueless 14-year-olds were willing to sell greeting cards door-to-door!

And of course there are tons of photos of Alice, Brian, Rod, David and Andy, but that's not really why kids bought up issues of ROCK SCENE is it? OK maybe so, but ya gotta give Richard and Lisa Robinson as well as Lenny Kaye and Cyrinda Fox credit for warping more than a few innocent minds out there with all of that cool decadent stuff, eh?


Anonymous said...

Always a great blog and always insightful writing!!!! And one last bit about Rock Scene, a lot of the uncredited stuff in there (captions, etc) was by the late great Mr. Betrock. When are you going to do a new in print issue. My son had a blast at the Maxs Reunion!!!!

Robert Cook said...

As a teen in Jax, Florida in the 70s I bought every issue of CREEM and ROCK SCENE (and various issues of other music mags, as their articles required, including CIRCUS, ROLLING STONE, HIT PARADER, and what not).

About ten years ago I was home visiting the folks and my dad asked me to clean out my old bedroom closet, stacked with boxes of all the old mags. I did it, but I went through them, flipping through the pages and reliving my "yoot" before consigning the newsprint to the Glad Bags. I was startled in going through the old ROCK SCENE issues at how the images and even photo captions and cheesy ads were burned into my was as if I'd looked at them only a few months previously, rather than over 20 years before. I still remember seeing the photos of the Ramones in the New Bands section and thinking, "this is the last time we'll ever hear of these guys!" Huh! By Thanksgiving 1976 I was flying from Florida to Atlanta, GA. to see the Ramones on the first national tour. (I stayed with friends studying at Georgia Tech.) The Ramones played two shows nightly for four nights at Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom. I attended two nights of their engagement before heading back to Florida.

I hated the 70s at the time, but looking back, there's a lot to be appreciated about that era.