Saturday, July 15, 2017


Let's skip the opening huzzah (you know by heart the schpiel about hapless kids saving pennies and sacrificing in other painful ways to put their opines to press) and start out this soiree with a fanzine that I tried like the dickens to latch onto back during my really depression-era wages days with nil luck. That fanzine was CONTEMPO CULTURE, and the only reason I wanted to pick up a copy of it was because of that plug inna pages of (now brace yourself!) THE VILLAGE VOICE during the days when Lester Bangs was cloistered in Austin Texas and contributing articles on the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and DNA to their pages. Unfortunately CONTEMPO CULTURE was not being sold in any of the Rough Trade or Systematic catalogs that I possessed and given that I wasn't exactly a guy who liked to send shekels through the mail unless it was like a bulk order (postage costs, y'know) it was like forget that 'un Chris. Or so I thought at the time.

Thanks to the miracle of internet I have obtained some of these CONTEMPO CULTUREs years after the fact, these two being amongst 'em (or at least the three that I do own and I might have even mentioned that one in these pages before!). Not that my life has improved the way it would had I been able to latch onto a copy of NIX ON PIX #1 or some of the NEW AGE/GROOVE ASSOCIATES that I do not have, but at least I have these within the realm of my paws and like, I have been sleeping better at night because of it, y'know...

These two are I guess typical of the 'zine's run. Not the standard rock fanzine (punk or otherwise) of the day, CONTEMPO CULTURE operates more as a deviant art (this being from the pre "deviant art" days when people who did things like this were just nutzo) rag that was put out by those fru-fru boho types you used to come across back in college during the seventies onward. (Locally there was a fanzine of this sort called 3-D ETHYL which earns my all time respect for featuring a very good NANCY article amidst the art cut ups.) Actually there is very little regarding music here, though the spirit and layouts that permeated the early-eighties under-the-underground scene of the day can be easily discerned.

Not only that but there's a pretty good sense of true nihilist concerns here what with the bizarro takes on everyday life (Barbie and Ken demonstrating birth control methods) and a piece on William Burroughs that doesn't read like some of the goo that has been written on him recently. Not to mention a smattering of recent record reviews and the like which sure do dredge up them memories. Hard to read and maybe infuriating, but always enough to make you wanna read more. And sure it was stuff like this that has led to the whole pouty youth rebellion of today where everything except well...certain things...are ripe for ripping, but at least back then these same kinda kidz sure knew how to do it right!
I'm always game for a good seventies-era rock 'n roll fanzine, as long as it ain't filled to the brim with loads of subpar sputum passing for mind-filled writing or hippie head musings about getting high on life 'n rot like that. That's why a rag like RECORDS really appealed to me, what with the typical mid-seventies fanzine-styled cover listing the droolsome contents along with those masterfully cheap xeroxed Rolling Stones single sleeves. Nice effort true, though how'n the heck is anybody who dunt know the inside story on this 'un gonna realize that RECORDS really ain't nothin' but an adzine featuring auction and set sale lists for records, tapes, fanzines etc. and nothing else!!!

No real articles here to speak of, the fanzine review section's nothin' but a list of what the writers just happ'd to get, and although it is great looking through those lists of then-affordable bootlegs and mid-sixties garage gems its like, where's the meat and potatoes anyway??? Nice letter section featuring notes from some of the bigwigs in the fanzine game, though I sure wonder why Phast Phreddie Patterson of BACK DOOR MAN fame dissed on onetime mag contributor and future Frontier Records head Lisa Fancher? Sheesh, you'd think there's be more solidarity in this unnerground than to have people acting all nice to you then stabbing you in the back once the momentum is with (or even against) you!
And speaking of the mid-seventies (I always seem to be), these Iggy Pop related fanzines (y'know, the ones that were done up long before boondock-locked suburban slobs such as I learned about 'em via the pages of ROCK SCENE) are really the best in pure addled reading if I do say so myself. Keeping this in mind you can bet that those IGGY POP FAN CLUB rags that were comin' outta both San Francisco and Germany are the kinda reads that really rankle my regions! Take this second issue of IGUANA put out by the San Francisco club...pure high energy bliss if I do say so myself. It doesn't just contain recent pix and the like as the IGUANA reviewed in the previous FANZINE ESOTERICA did but is brimming full with a whole batch of interesting Ig wanderings done up by the fans who put this thingie out! And man, were they guys who were just as anxious as everyone else regarding the METALLIC KO bootleg making its way to their door, not to mention the exact whereabouts of the man himself who was then spending time in an Insane Asylum where David Bowie would frequently smuggle in some cocaine to ease the tedium. The clippings are pretty rare because I can't even recall seeing most of 'em before and the ENERGY over-the-top punkified Ig raves that prove there was still enough interest in him at a time when the major forces that be had long written the guy off as just another suburban slob loser. It even features a snip of a missive (complete with an early Bowie bashing!) from ace fan Miriam Linna, who really must have done very little studying during her college kid days at Kent State University considering all of the time she had spent playing records and writing for fanzines way back when.

And whaddaya know...right after getting hold of the above I latch on to the second and final issue of HONEY THAT AIN'T NO ROMANCE and boy is it the proverbial pip! Better'n even the debut, this artyfact from EUROPE'S ONLY IGGY POP FAN CLUB is all encapsulating and sucks you in even with its one-sided xeroxed pages its that wowzer-like! Lotsa people wrote in to praise the mag so not only do you get to read the Iggified opinions of the likes of Phast Phreddie Patterson and D.D. Faye of BACK DOOR MAN fame and Jymn Parrett, Dee Daack and Evan Jones from DENIM DELINQUENT but see pix of 'em as well!

True you prob'ly've already seen all the Stooge snaps before, but the spirit and fan thrills this one exudes can light up the skies for miles and you too will drool to the photos of Metchild (Iggy's #1 fan!) in various stages of undress even if she coulda used the Mark Eden Course! Too bad this was the last could have really developed into a real top read had the club developed into something HUMONGOUS once Iggy's solo career got into gear and the guy's mug was poppin' up all over the place!

 HONEY THAT AIN'T NO ROMANCE's Harald Inhulsen midt Jonh Ingham
White we're still inna seventies here's a good discovery that's probably worth your effort to search out. 3rd WAVE was one of those fanzines that really exemplified the days back when new wave wasn't quite the dirty word it would become within a relatively short period of time, and this debut issue just goes to remind ya of just why this breed of rock was so important to more'n just a few cloistered kids who were probably picked on even by the principal. Slapping Stiv Bators and Johnny Blitz of the Dead Boys onna cover was a good move, and the interview to be found therein is equally boffo. (Cheetah Chrome says he wrote "Ain't It Fun" on January 19th or 20th of 1973 after the Stooges played Cleveland a few days earlier---prob'ly a typo) Also good were the record and live reviews, the Robert Gordon interview even if he does come off kinda detached not to mention the gab with the Fleshtones who back then seemed like one of the better enigmas to come outta the New York scene. Gotta give this one five stars if only for the David Johansen/Johnny Thunders centerpiece poster which can be neatly removed from the mag and placed smack dab in the middle of your fart encrusted bedroom wall.
 I always got the impression that while there were many rock fanzines out there in the seventies that were getting their just dues via reviews in BOMP and COWABUNGA there were many more that just didn't hit the spotlight like perhaps they shoulda. Maybe they were just too low budget and too low circulation to make a dent anywhere. And somehow I get the impression that some of these fanzines were rather informative despite their being quite outta the loop and distributed to a few fans and nobody else but!

I should dismiss THE DISTRICT DIARY on the mere basis of its subtitle "The People's Paper" (whenever I would see something from the seventies with the word "people" in it I knew I was in for a politically pious experience!) but it comes off more like a teenage rock rag than an imitation VILLAGE VOICE no matter how you look at it! Edited by a Lee Lumsden, this Seattle-area spirit duplicated job  really does capture the grade school newspaper feeling even if I doubt most sixth-graders would be as hip as these kids. The staff of THE DIARY go for the likes of Lou Reed, the Dolls, Kiss, Iggy and much more and even if they are tend to make more'n a few boo-boos (like their feature story on streaking, a fad that was no good unless it was being done by nice looking females) you can't fault 'em for sticking up for Elton John and raving on about THE WAY WE WERE. Fanzine allusion of the year---when contributor Ben Rabinowitz mentions that if you're aware of Lou, the Dolls and Iggy you should be aware of Queen, and that's no lie!
The later issues of Mick Mercer's PANACHE don't strike me as anything special outside of the entire English "post-punk" cadre of Rough Trade-styled bands and goth wannabes, but the earliest ones really do have that hot fanzine style that I liked in a number of contemporary rags from THE NEXT BIG THING on, complete with that hefty Stooges worship and love of everything that was new and exciting in a rock world that seemed to ignore the fresh and innovative in favor of big biz cocaine karma and general drop dead (literally!) musical acts. This third issue is no exception, what with the cover feature on Ultravox and loads of news on those old "save the world bands" that seemed so new and innovative in the mid-seventies only to become lost in the shuffle once we clocked into the snoozeville eighties. Hand printed (just like NBT!) and filled with that talking to you 'stead of AT you attitude, this one-sided print job rag might seem like just another crudzine to some but it had a whole load of that high energy and spunk to it that really reminds me of what it meant to be a suburban slob crawling through flea market stacks to find that elusive Seeds album I never ever could find. Lotsa non-p-rock mentions in the bootleg and record review section too making PANACHE the English answer to...TB SHEETS???
THIRD RAIL #3, being from the mid-eighties and all, really ain't from a period in fanzinedom that cozies up to me and vicey versey. After all this was during the mid-eighties when for all practical purposes the rock scene was tiresomely dreadful on the "mainstream" front, and the underground from which rock fandom seemed to gravitate towards was either big on hardcore punk or new wave unto gnu wave as Bill Shute so acrimoniously put it. So why did I snatch THIRD RAIL up you say??? Not only because the writing is pretty good considering the time, and not only because the acts reviewed from Syd Barrett to the Mothers of Invention are the kinda things I still like to read even if on a retrospective level, but because Bill Shute himself actually contributed an entire "Inner Mystique" page and I really can't get enough of Bill's writings, especially these earlier forays into print. Hey Bill, if you're reading this there's one thing I'd like to know, what was the free LP given away and who won it???
Here's one that will really throw you for a loop-de-loop. Remember TEENAGE NEWS, the fanzine from Montreal Quebec what began in 1975 as a New York Dolls-oriented fan mag yet soon opened its doors to other favorites such as the Flamin' Groovies and later the whole English (and local---meaning Canada) punk rock contingent? I sure do, but then again for the life of me I don't remember this other TEENAGE NEWS from early-eighties Hamilton Ontario which featured the same style of rock 'n roll worship only with about eight years of deadweight dragging things down. I mean, in 1975 things like the Dolls and Stooges and those groups playing in their "tradition" sure seemed exciting and life-reaffirming. By 1983 it was about as easy to get excited over Boy George as it would be getting excited over nude pictures of Totie Fields, and not post-mortem you necrosickies out there!

This "new" TEENAGE NEWS ain't bad even though such championed groups as Rank and Fire weren't exactly anything that captured my spirit of rockism. Reminds me a lot of THE MOLE which would figure since the long gone Bruce Mowat contributed to it. Mat Mania also contributed one of those wrestling articles done up back when wrestling was still fun Saturday afternoon tee-vee viewing. And like the old TEENAGE NEWS they even got part two of a Flamin' Groovies history, nothing we don't know already but gee is the heart-warming THOUGHT just baked into its eternal being!

Like just about any fanzine of worth there is loads to peruse and digest here. But sheesh, you think the guys who did this 'un woulda done some research into their name because this coulda resulted in a lawsuit. And those fanzine publishers sure needed to count each and every penny they got into their mitts now, right?
And to close this post out comes this li'l surprise. I never heard of OUTLET, this cheap l'il photocopied fanzine before and when I discovered that it lasted a good number of issues before capitulating I was surprised! I mean, I thought I was the only stubborn soul onna fanzine scene willing to waste money and time outta pure spite if anything! But hey, this mag was a cool effort, part funtime fanzine rah rah and part collectors mag with articles on Stiff Records, Ruben Guevara of Ruben and the Jets fame regarding his Bicentennial single on Rhino, some Glaswegian gang called the Exiles and hey, how can you fault a rag that puts the DOWNLINERS SECT on the cover of their first issue??? The writing is good enough in that late-seventies hipper writers on the English Weaklies scene style, and this debut's got me slobbering for more and more issues which are available out there, albeit at pretty dicey priceys! So it's either save the skekels or do some hard-time begging if I wanna read any more of these in my lifetime!
Before I go, a big 'n happy SEVENTIETH birthday to none other'n Roky Erickson as well as a big thirty-first (I think!) birthday greetings to Eric Shute who doesn't read this blog anyway  but I'll betcha daddy'll tell 'im.

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

Eric doesn't even read MY blog, and I'm his father!

Boy, that THIRD RAIL issue was a blast from my Stillwater past.
That duo also had a radio show on which I guested once
or twice.
Did I write about THE FOUL DOGS in that issue?
If not, then I wrote for another Third Rail issue because I
do remember The Foul Dogs.