Sunday, June 05, 2011


As I'm sure with many of you reg'lar readers, I definitely miss the Golden Age of Rock Fanzines. Now, I'm not talking about the alleged GA of the nineties which spawned quite a few self-produced publications, some of which I might or might not have exactly cozied up to (thought that's probably due to jealousy considering that my own fanzine "career" pretty much hit the skids and paled next to some of the classier offerings that were popping up during them dayze), but as you might have guessed I'm more'n gung ho on the original GA of the seventies that gave us quite a few top notch reads like (amongst many others) BACK DOOR MAN and DENIM DELINQUENT! Y'know, fanzines which  continue to hold up to pre-beddy bye time reading a whole lot more'n many of you would dare admit, snobbish elitist trash that you most certainly are. Sad to say the days of high energy punky garageadelic fanzines like these and many others are long gone, and even though we can all read our favorite seventies/eighties fanzine fave writers like Eddie Flowers and Jim Marshall immediate-like on the web it sure is a lot different getting facebook links of youtube rarites  from Flowers  or twice-a-month posts from Marshall 'stead of reading their writings smack-dab plain in front of you on plain paper just like in the old days! And besides, like I've said many-a-time,  just TRY and haul your computer into the bathroom for that essential potty-time reading! Chances are you'll have downloaded long before the computer does.

Not too many new oldies, or is that old newies, to hit the BLOG TO COMM mailbox as of late but there have been a few fanzines of "interest" that perhaps warrant your mealy attention. Naturally the ones that I would really love to read remain in long-forgotten collections or more or less the publishers' attics, but until the reams of old issues of NEW AGE and CHUCKLEHEAD'S GAZETTE (amongst a few hundred others) find their way into my hairy little paws I'll have to make do with these wonders. And after reading my blab-on you're going to wonder just as well!

I dunno if you could classify RAUNCHY ROCK as either a "fanzine" or as (yet another) bi-monthly amateur rag aiming for the pocket change left over after the mythical 197X 18-34 age group dumped bigger bucks on albums and real rock magazines. Kinda hard I know, but for the sake of somethingorother I guess it would be best to classify it as an actual rock fanzine because of its overall cut and paste looks, dimensions and best of all cheapo typed layout. And true, editor Bob Iuliucci might not have exactly been the new Jann Wenner with a rag like this, but he was about ten or so miles ahead of that overambitious bi with this Staten Island publication that I guess was created to fill in some of the blanks that the usual alternative weaklies were somehow letting slip through their nubbins.

And yeah, maybe putting Don McLean on a cover of your mag ain't exactly as hotcha an idea as slapping Iggy Pop onto it, but it probably moved a few more boxes which I'm sure helped pad Iuliucci's wallet out more'n me sticking the Dolls on the latest issue of my own monstrosity. But it's what's inside that counts, and I really do enjoy RAUNCHY ROCK's sense of seventies snide and energy not to mention that Richard Meltzer himself even had his own tee-vee column entitled "TV TUBS" (complete with a snap of Cleveland Amory lifted from a real TV GUIDE) where The Master once again gets to tell you all you needed to know before turning on the idjit box and tuning into your favorite pastime. Take this little bit of cathode esoterica: "You know what you can do with BRIDGET LOVES BERNIE? Stick it up your mommy's rumphole." I mean, who else could have summed up the worst aspects of the post-MTM prime time television like that? Or how about this bit regarding a bonafeed television classic..."Andy Griffith's on a little too much if not a lot. It's on twice a day and that's a lot. Whenever Aunt Bee is on it's no good a-tall. Ditto for Opie. Ditto for Gomer. Only good'uns on the whole show are Barney and whatever that drunk's name is who always gets locked up. Andy is BAD and so is Betty from FATHER KNOWS BEST who's on there every once in a while as his broad. The whole show is goddam hopeless and the episode they show ever Xmas eve is pathetic (the latter day Scrooge story--pee-yew!) Floyd the barber's okay tho." And sure that mere example's bound to get me criticism from all sortsa angles for liking this "illiterate" knownothing scoundrel type, but hey, it is much to be preferred over John Rich.

Sticking Joe Franklin on the front was a much smarter business move that Don McLean, if only for Franklin's down-home earthness and old-timey approach to the Golden Greats that have been poo-pooed by the hippie remnants for being "irrelevant". Franklin's a good schmoe, and the issue I got with his likeness on the front cover's really snazzy as well, complete with a listing of the best rock et roll groups in the New York area (including snaps of the Fast, the Leather Secrets on what I believe is the original CBGB stage before Lou Rone burned it down, and would you believe Wayne County giving birth?!?!?!). Even the token book review (JANIS: BURIED ALIVE) is good enough that you don't mind the amateur poetry scattered all over the place or the tons of ads for clothing stores which obviously kept this magazine going for as long as it did. Naturally something like RAUNCHY ROCK was bound to get buried under the weight of the other New York reads such as THE VILLAGE VOICE and of course THE CHRISTOPHER STREET STINKY SLINKY TUNNEL RIDE but for being what it was and getting out to the public the way it did we gotta give the thang more'n a few dues, and who knows, maybe someday someone'll collect all of the Meltzer contributions in one nice little book, just so's we can all appreciate the finer points of seventies television as filtered through the mind of an addled genius!
It's sure been a long time between issues of O. REXTASY, Solomon "Afrika Korps" Gruberger's manic/intense fanzine that seemed to woosh over the collective heads of rock fandom back in the good ol' you-know-whats. Coming across old copies this far down the virtual hershey highway's not exactly a lighthearted task, but fortunately enough I've managed to get hold of issue #3 with none other than Gruberger dreamboat Suzi Quatro on the cover! Naturally there's a nice piece (no pun intended) on her inside (again, no pun...) as well as loads of long-forgotten goodies from the rest of the mid-seventies fanzine maggia (to use Marvel Comicspeak)...Mark HYPE Jenkins reviewing Grand Funk RR's WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND, Krazee Kenne Highland writing up the Osmonds and David Cassidy, Cary Baker on Brownsville Station, Eddie Flowers on Johnny Winter and Carl Biancucci not only with a whole slew of funny comics but a review of Robin Trower!!! For the sake of daring to be DIFFERENT some gal named Mary La Marca reviewed a Yes circa TALES FROM THE TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS live show (???), but before you think this ish is going to the flutterers Kenne and Sol resensify you with a good two page write-up on a New York mystery band who sent 'em a demo which evoked everybody from the Stooges and Dolls to West, Bruce and Laing! (Could this be the infamous Pandora, a group of whom a ton of information has come out since their infamous Cee-Dee release back in the nineties?) That's what I like about these 197X ' matter how much you had 'em pegged as being totally punkified there was always some little surprise tossed in to make you mutter....wha?
I've written about VIBRATIONS many times before and although I'm sure a good portion of you readers would probably not consider it to be a fanzine in the classic run-it-off-and-staple-the-thing-up fashion they were brave enough to actually identify themselves as one even to the point where they even advertised themselves as one in the pages of the ultimate gathering point for the underground collector, none other than Alan Betrock's ROCK MARKETPLACE. With credentials like that I guess they were a fanzine in truest sense of the form even if there was none of the bite or verve of a...say, BACK DOOR MAN to be found in the pages that I've seen. In fact from what I have read, VIBRATIONS looked more or less (at least with the early issues) like a smart CRAWDADDY knockoff which like Paul Williams' creation fortunately ignored the more crass aspects of late-sixties youth culture and wrote about a wide variety of rock groups with that cool, detached style that was so pleasing (especially next to the New Vulgarianisms of the day) that even writers like Wayne McGuire and VIBRATIONS staffer Jonathan Richman were more than apt to commit to print in this perhaps not-so-peculiar style.

Of course the early issues having that CRAWDADDY sense of science-fiction fandom look and feel (coupled with the yearly high school poesy anthology aura) didn't hurt any, and even if VIBRATIONS seemed to be treading the same sociopolitical waters as every other serious youthmag of the late-sixties at least they had a smart Boston sense of snide to 'em. Not to mention the ever-popular Richman, who was probably the magazine's saving grace even though editor John Kreidl  never would have dared admit it at least in front of the stockholders. In many ways VIBRATIONS echoed the same sentiments as fellow Bostonian publication FUSION with its mix of rock, politics and human interest done sans the standard youth emote that seemed to permeate the likes of STONE, or at least what that mag exuded until the early-seventies when even phony altruism became too obvious for the pampered sons of the ruling class. Only a few knew that their six-oh utopian dreams were gonna come to a screeching halt back in those airhead times, but at least the folks at VIBRATIONS knew enough to keep their youthful exuberance under control, at least until it became too hard...

Anyway so's I get a whole buncha these VIBRATIONS, all of 'em from their tabloid days (post-early 8 1/2-by-11 early issues and pre-final gasp return to same) which are hard to read and crumbly as well but do have a good enough late-sixties feel to 'em to the point where you coulda seen Mark Frechette eyeballing a copy at The Fort in between bank holdups. They all have the same sorta anti-vulgarian feeling (while still holding onto the socio/feminist/political banners of the time) style and swerve to 'em...really late-sixties airs with the latest news on the hipster underground acts of the day along with the usual bedroom anarchist interest angles just custom-made for the smarter breed of young pseudo-sophistacado. What's best about these VIBRATIONS is that even with the ever-increasing New Left trappings none of the sophomoric ideals that plagued  the vast UPS network of highschool rebel reads of the day ("Power to the People"/ "Death to the Military-Industrial Complex" division) are floating out and about to wreak havoc on your stomach.That always was a refreshing indication that maybe the entire hoard of sixties rabble rousers weren't as schlocky as many of us would have gandered

Although Richman's on the masthead on most if not all of these issues (with his official standing with the VIBRATIONS powers that be ever-changing), his presence seems to be rather scarce other than as the conductor of a certain interview which sure seemed a bit obscure even by Jonathan Richman standards. But I still find it hard not to like these VIBRATIONS even if they weren't exactly treading any new hip underground waters like I'm sure you wish they would've. (Plus really, how truly hip was it to slap a pic of Great White Hope George McGovern on the front of a fanzine no matter how politico it might have been?)

And frankly I find the entire batch of issues that I do own out of a run of (I'd gander) about seventysome  to have been of a good quality with smart enough writing (even if it is of the New Journalism which in many ways was Old Hat), straightforward execution, high-class outlooks that I never would have expected from the usual New Left rabblerousers who had taken over the youth banned at this point in history
and in all were so good that even easily-unamused aficionados of the form like myself could derive more than a little bit of worth and might outta 'em a good four decades after the final issue belched its last. But really, I sure could have used a whole lot more Richman in the ones I've procured. The guy really was a good writer who could have made it just as easily in the hotcha rock scribing world as he did in music, if the shards of what I have read of his (the infamous Velvet Underground piece Richman has tried to suppress to this very day and a high-larious account of a Rolling Stones press party I caught in some old Stones fanzine) are any indication. And did I mention that Greg Shaw even contributed a piece on the Who? How could I neglect to omit something as all-important and crucial as that???
I've spilled more than my fair share of ink o'er the past decade or two regarding EUROCK, Not that this rag really fits into my definition of a top-notch all-out seventies-styled rock fanzine read the way that such mags as CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS (to name drop a fresh 'un this time) have, but I gotta admit that I really enjoy the style, layout and most of all editor Archie Patterson's devotion to covering a wide range of continental/Asian acts that you just didn't read about in the "hip" rock press of the day. EUROCK wasn't exactly punky, though when Hot Scott Fisher was writin' for 'em in the early days his pieces were more than apt to draw comparisons between kraut group "x" and some facet of Amerigan undergroundiness. An article on German rabble rousers Ton Steine Scherben in the fifth issue was a nice aside from the usual symphonic synth groups of the day even if their later-on albums aren't exactly the things that high energy rock dreams are made of, but for the most part these EUROCKs were more attuned to the cosmic side of continental rock, and to be frank about it that's not exactly something that would get me all hot and excited the way the mere mention of the Velvet Underground in some by-then-weathered 1972 issue of CREEM had me hitching a ride to the record shop in order to trek down this particular group's wares which would have been a rather difficult task considering how said band had probably been defunct for a good five years by the time I discovered they had even existed!

But I really enjoy reading their old EUROCKs in their original form even if I do have 'em all on CD-rom (a medium which I find rather annoying because, like I stated earlier, I can't read it on the toilet). The softcover collection is nice to have on hand but is too thick to read comfortable-like especially when you're lying in bed and the heavy book resting on your chest makes me think of Lydia Garthwaithe from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW after eating too many pretzels. Therefore these originals come in mighty handy, and although I don't have the entire run of 'em I got a good portion which really come in handy when I get into one of my krautrock jags and I wanna remember why Can were as important to the growth and development of OUR MUSIC (to be pretentious about it) as the Detroit bands and various other groups who probably didn't think their music was going to stand the test of six months, let alone decades (or was that my uncle who said that?).

There is much in EUROCK that would satisfy even the more curmudgeonly amongst us (and in the words of Moe Howard "Who you lookin' at?"). After all, where else would you get to read a interview with onetime Guru Guru/Faust/Neu! bass guitarist Uli Trepte who says that the Velvet Underground were a major Guru Guru influence (and if I had only known that at the beginning of my hefty Velvets obsession I would have been doing what I told you I would have done a few paragraphs earlier!). To be totally honest about it, a good portion of these EUROCKs really aren't gonna light a fire under any of our behinds unless you would like to know more about acts like Le Orme, but even with the heavy prog rock bent I still find EUROCK a funtime reading experience and hey, it's so good that I actually caught myself reading a piece on none other than those Englishmen transplanted to Germany before making New York City their home, none other than Nektar! Now don't go blabbin' that li'l fact around even if I've just about as much chance of buying one of their albums as my head has of sporting an Art Garfunkel 'fro!
ANOTHER PAGE IN THE BOOK OF LIFE TURNS DEPARTMENT: the recent passing of James Arness naturally does tend to affect me, perhaps not in an outright mournful way but enough to make me once again realize that the sands o' time are forever dribblin' down that li'l hole and that more sooner 'n later that great era of POST-WAR/PRE-HIPPIE AMERIGAN KULTUR is going to seem about as alien to the mass of tee-vee/moom pitcher supporters as the Civil War seems to people like us! And to be frank about it, that's a fact that's pretty hard to cram down my throat (but don't worry, you sure will!) for it was that era of hard-hitting, high energy tee-vee from whence Arness' classic series GUNSMOKE sprung forth that I pretty much grew up with either via first run or incessant rebroadcasts, and really, seeing the stars of yore head on into the big casting room in the sky is just about as traumatic for me as I'm sure it was for the folks of my parent's generation seeing their faves pass on back in the fifties and sixties making them feel plenty old in the process!

Gotta admit that I never was that big of a GUNSMOKE fan back when it was being produced...for me, it seemed more like an "older people" show that my uncles would watch religiously along with all of the other westerns and adventure programs  at a time when I was more enthralled with THE LUCY SHOW, but the older half-hour programs later packaged under the title MARSHAL DILLON really did impress me when I'd occasionally catch 'em running on Akron's channel 23 some Sunday afternoon (the one with Cloris Leachman remains a wowzer and why wouldn't it being directed by Sam Peckinpaugh!). A '62 hour-long which I caught when The Western Channel was offering a free week of programming was also fantastic in that class early-sixties way, especially in that this one seemed to echo various TWILIGHT ZONE ideas and surrealistic effects to surprisingly stunning results. Sheesh, it may have seemed creepy at the time but next to the way eighties/nineties television tried being avant garde and experimental programs like this only came off all the more better, perhaps because they were made for people to enjoy 'stead of under the delusion of "educating" (read: insulting) them! True the later GUNSMOKEs that are currently being run incessantly on TV LAND really don't cut it and in fact come off like a 1955 automobile classic now rusted beyond belief about to be pounded into steel for a brand-spanking new 1976 sportscar, but at least this series held up (latter-day slide into seventies mulch and all) a whole lot longer'n most instantly disposable wares that are seen these days, programs which I certainly would not want to spend one second watching let alone an entire hour of the drivel and emote that passes for drama long after that well of creativity has run bone dry.

Sure Arness was one of those stoic fifties-kinda guys who eventually grew his hair long in the late-seventies and looked kinda silly for it in the HOW THE WEST WAS WON mini-series for ABC, but at least he was one of the last surviving examples of hard-edged tee-vee manhood that petered out in the age of the sensitive cop dramas and brat pack westerns that were to follow. Reading about the death of Mr. Arness will only make me more appreciative of the surviving tee-vee actors and actresses of the fifties who I think might be just as dumbfounded about what's happened to their old professions as I and a few million other old timey tee-vee fans undoubtedly are!

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