Sunday, November 17, 2013

LEWES MUSICAL EXPRESS 2

ISSUE 2 OF THE LEWES MUSICAL EXPRESS IS NOW ON-LINE FOR YOU TO ENJOY.

www.lewesmusicalexpress.com

This is a real picture by Lewes' very own Steve Arch of Leonard Cohen enjoying our first issue.

First we take Lewes, then we take Berlin.

Act locally, think globally

Spread the word

NME: DICK TRACY IS BACK

This recent issue of the NME reprinted one of my  stories that I wrote for the paper back in the 1970s, concerning Keith Richards' heroin trial in Toronto. Published 35 years ago on 18th November 1978. I much appreciated this tribute to the work that I did under the nom de plume Dick Tracy between 1975 and 1982.




You can read the whole article here:

I say the whole article because on the reprint they clipped off one short para at the end. As follows:

'So Richards is out once more. Meanwhile Vicious spends time in Bellevue psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. Another week in the history of rock and roll.'

This gave the piece a different cultural resonance. Richards got off and out due to the power of the Rolling Stones empire who pulled every string and favour to keep their man from going down for a long time. Meanwhile and simultaneously, we were following the grim final days of Sid Vicious who was badly hooked on heroin and facing a murder trail. He had, it seems, been abandoned and had few resources to help him. Its worth looking back on what happened.

At the beginning of 1978, The Sex Pistols embarked on their first American tour, which fell apart in just two weeks. Vicious flew back to New York to hook up with girlfriend Nancy Spungen and, after a short trip to London and Paris in connection the Sex Pistols film, they set up home in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. Sid had a new band The Idols but that October he was arrested for killing Spungen who was found dead in their apartment from a single stab wound. According to NNBD.com:

'Police found Vicious wandering the hotel hallways, crying; he was immediately taken into custody and charged with second-degree homicide, although Virgin Records put up the money required for bail shortly afterwards. Vicious' mental state became even more erratic following his arrest, and an attempt at suicide by slashing his wrist was made several days later, resulting in a two-week internment at the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital. Another arrest followed in December due to an assault on Patti Smith's brother Todd at Max's Kansas City; after serving two months in jail, Virgin supplied his bail for a second time, and he was released once again pending his trial for Spungen's murder. That trial would never take place: Vicious was found dead of what is speculated to be a deliberate heroin overdose on February 2nd at the home of his new girlfriend Michelle Robinson.'
Since that time, I have often thought about the contrast between the fate of Richards and Vicious but then, just yesterday, as chance would have it, I found this extraordinary news story from Johnny Rotten. It appears that one of the few people who stepped in to help Sid was, in fact, Mick Jagger. According to Uncut
John Lydon has spoken about his admiration for Mick Jagger, who paid Sid Vicious' lawyers when the Sex Pistols bassist was arrested for the alleged murder of girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
The full interview was in The Daily Record and can be found here

Sunday, August 04, 2013

MICK FARREN TRIBUTE 1

 

It is with great sadness that THE GENERALIST reports the death of Mick Farren, a long-time friend and elder brother figure to me, who was a key figure in the British underground scene in the 60s and 70s. Founder and lead singer of The Deviants, one-time editor of International Times,  noted NME writer, prolific author, great blogger, Mick had a big heart often hidden behind a tough troublesome front. Possessor of a big ego and an afro to match, he over-indulged in life with great abandon and pushed the pedal to the metal right up his final dramatic act - his death on stage at the Borderline in London.

Mick grew up in Worthing and us younger Worthing lads looked up to him as an iconic freak. We were the ground crew who helped create the stage and site for Phun City – the first great British free festival – which featured the first-ever performance in the UK by the legendary MC5.

Later I worked on the underground press, hung out in the Grove and saw Mick at gigs, parties and demos on a regular basis. Mick got me into the NME and I was regular writer for Thrills which he edited.

Lost touch with him during his long sojourn in New York and LA but reconnected when I helped  get a flat in Brighton for him (and the cat). Fortunately I promoted one of the last Deviant gigs at the Con Club in Lewes in Dec 2012.

I very recently reviewed his last publication – a fat anthology of his writings from Head Press here. This post has links to several other Previous Posts on Mick.

Mick was a stand-up guy, always  looking out for me and always buying me a beer when he knew I was virtually penniless. Fortunately I was able to tell him in person how much that meant to me before he died.

Mick was a tough nut, unafraid of speaking his mind and difficult to impress, who evolved a unique journalistic style that was pithy, sharp and dark. He loved bourbon, speed, smoke, leather jackets, cowboy boots, Gene Vincent and Elvis and he stood up with great courage to both the Establishment and his own demons. He was no angel and had no room for sentimentality. He created his own legend and in his version of events he was always centre stage.

Like many others, I miss him badly. He was a true rebel spirit.

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Unpublished photos by yours truly of Mick doing a reading from ‘Give The Anarchist A Cigarette’ at Waterstones in  Brighton in 1998. Top picture is the after-show party in a room above a gay club off the Steine. Mick improvises whilst Tim Rundall (I think) plays guitar and son Louis tinkles on the piano!!

 

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Thanx to Richard Adams for sending over this pic of Mick at the Inn on the Green in Ladbroke Grove, snapped 28 May 2009. Richard comments: ‘I think he’d just arrived in England after America had taken its toll.’

Two great pictures taken by the legend that is Joe Stevens – one of them is a beauty of a colour shot of Mick and Ed Barker – together with a pithy tribute from Joe.

This is the uncut version of an article that appeared in The Guardian by Charles Shaar Murray: ‘Mick, we hardly knew ye…’

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The pic, recently unearthed by Chalkie Davies, shows Miles, CSM, Micky and Chalkie in Brighton,summer of 1976.

 

OBITUARIES

The Telegraph

The Independent/Chris Salewicz

The Guardian/Richard Williams

The New York Times/Bruce Webber

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LEWES MUSICAL EXPRESS

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Things have been quiet on the blogging front as I have been flat out producing a new free micro music paper to coincide with the Mumford & Sons festival in Lewes last weekend.

I wrote, edited, produced, financed and distributed the paper (5,000 copies) in just 10 weeks. It can be done.

 

 

You can read it on-line at www.lewesmusicalexpress.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

FILM: TERRENCE MALICK/GODFREY REGGIO

TERRENCE MALICK112 Have just had my mind blown by watching ‘To The Wonder’ – the latest movie by Terrence Malick – one of the great filmmakers working in cinema today. You can read up on him on IMDB and Wikipedia. Also: a lengthy essay ‘Waiting for Terence Malick’ by Michael Nordine on the Salon site.

I was wondering how to explain what makes this film so special when I cam across this wonderful quote which nails it:

‘Those rambling philosophical voiceovers; the placid images of nature, offering quiet contrast to the evil deeds of men; the stunning cinematography, often achieved with natural light; the striking use of music – here is a filmmaker with a clear sensibility and aesthetic who makes narrative films that are neither literary nor theatrical, in the sense of foregrounding dialogue, event, or character, but are instead principally cinematic, movies that suggest narrative, emotion, and idea through image and sound.’

This quote comes from a great essay by Chris Wisniewski on www.reverseshot.com which discusses ‘Days of Heaven’ and ‘The New World’.Terrence Malick

Malick directed ‘Days of Heaven’ in 1978  - five years after his debut film ‘Badlands’ -  after which he didn’t direct a film for 20 years – though he did produce and write scripts.  ‘The Thin Red LIne’ came out in 1998 and then there was a seven-year gap before ‘The New World’. ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘To The Wonder’ came out in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

He apparently shot two new films back-to-back in 2012: Lawless starring Ryan Gosling, with a supporting cast including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett and Knight of Cups which will star Bale, alongside Blanchett and Isabel Lucas.

Chris’ essay says arguably that its the editing that distinguishes Malick’s work on these two films (and others) but the contrast is the first was edited using analog technology, the second used digital.

This most interesting. Sometime back THE GENERALIST flagged up the existence of the documentary ‘Side by Side’ – produced and narrated by Keanu Reeves which skilfully examines all aspects of the film-making process and contrasts the analog and digital production methods. Its an absolute must see for anyone interested in the future of cinema. Saw a cinema screening a month or so back and now await my DVD copy from Lovefilm. Will chew on this bone further in a separate post.

Back to Malick and ‘To The Wonder’. It principally follows a love story – shot in Paris, Mont St Michel and Oklahoma – but has another level featuring Javier Bardem as a priest.

The camera is always on the move and, in this film, the main female character dances her way through it creating another level of movement. A third is movement in nature – rippling  leaves and branches, grasslands, undersea swirls, lakes & waterfalls. Everything flows.

The framing is partial. People half in and half out of the frame. Dialogue is scattered as if blown by the wind which seems to be another character throughout. Ben Affleck is humanised in the process.

The relativity of when you watch a film has an effect on your perception of it. The screen I was watching it on sits in front of a window behind which is an elder tree in flower and other trees behind. They were being whipped by the wind at the same time as I was watching the wind on screen. Had to stop the film so as take a walk before the light disappeared. Slipped over on wet grass and bashed my head. Finished watching the film.

This film touches you in many places and on many levels. For some reason it kept reminding me of Godfrey Reggio’s films which form the second half of this post.

There’s a lot in Mallick’s films that suggests he is a man of belief – if not a Christian per se then perhaps someone who is absorbed by spiritual and philosophical questions.

I’d always thought that Reggio was a Jesuit priest but, according to Wikipedia, ‘Reggio spent fourteen years in fasting, silence and prayer, training to be a monk within the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic pontifical order, before abandoning that path and making the films.’

To anyone who was around in the 1970s his movies - Koyaanisqatsi and its sequelPowaqqatsi  (later followed by  ‘Naqoyqatsi’  - the weakest of the trilogy) were powerful; experiences.

The titles come from the Hopi language. ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ means ‘Life Out of Balance’ ‘Powaqqatsi’ means "life in transformation," and Naqoyqatsi means "life as war." They are poetic/ symphonic documentaries which, in a powerful way, brings home the extent to which we are damaging the earth and alienating ourselves from the natural environment.

A hallmark of these films is some extraordinary cinematography - mainly shot using slow motion and time lapse.  Ron Fricke, the cinematographer who shot these films subsequently made two films of his own - ‘Baraka’ and ‘Samsara’ both of which I watched recently.For these he built his own 65mm equipment.  Back in the day I had lunch with Fricke (and my young son) after a morning press screening of ‘Baraka’ in London.

The trilogy have soundtracks by Philip Glass which makes a major contribution to their success.  My son and I saw Glass and his mini-orchestra play live as the films were screened at the Festival Hall in London.

Its exciting to discover that Reggio and Glass have been working on a new film ‘Visitors’ which will premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.

Steven Soderbergh, who is one of Reggio’s great supporters says:

Reggio’s “pure cinema” works are hard to sum up in a sentence, and the new film is no different. “It’s connected to the other Qatsi films in the sense it’s Godfrey’s wordless take on a certain subject, but he’s changed his game here,” Soderbergh said. “There’s more directing in it, more things he’s specifically staging for the camera than he’s done before, and there are performers in the film. He’s taken what he does and pushed it into a new area, which was really exciting for me to watch. It’s thirty years ago this year when Koyaanisqatsi came out. I watched it again, and there just isn’t a single, visual idea in that movie that hasn’t been ripped off, assimilated, regurgitated, built upon. Actually I watched all three films again, and it made me laugh how other directors just took his language and just ran with it. Here, he’s moved the goal post as if to challenge others and say, ‘Alright, let’s see what you can do with this.’ It’s so striking, but not necessarily immediately applicable to what everybody else does. They’ll have to work to steal this one.”

 

See: http://www.koyaanisqatsi.com/ [not updated since 2005]

"...The crisis that we are approaching today is of yet another order. For it entails the transition, not from one form of society and power to another, but to a new environment...The present crisis...is a total crisis triggered by transition to a new and previously unknown environment, the technological environment....The present change of environment is much more fundamental than anything that the race has experienced for the last five thousand years."

- Jacques Ellul

Sunday, June 02, 2013

UNDERGROUND PRESS: MICK FARREN/FELIX DENNIS, MARK WILLIAMS, MICK KIDD

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Above is one of my favourite pictures of Mick – sporting one of the great Afros – the cover shot for a piece by Charles Nicholl that asked the question: ‘Was the Underground press a shortlived volcano? Many of its papers have folded and many youthful idealists are now veterans of progress.’ By September 1973 the glory days of the underground press were largely over but many of its writers survived and thrived. Mick, like myself and many others, joined the good ship NME in the 1970s, Time Out  survived and went on to make its proprietor Tony Elliott a millionaire and of course dear Felix founded an empire that continues to thrive to this day. More of which anon.

Headpress have recently published this excellent anthology of Mick Farren’s journalism, comment pieces, fiction, song lyrics and blog posts which provides a welcome addition to his substantial ouevre which includes the excellent autobio ‘Give An Anarchist a Cigarette’.

Mick has much to say about bars and aliens, even more about Elvis. There’s standout encounters with Gore Vidal and Johnny Cash and a great exchange of letters with Pete Townshend. The early underground press stuff makes particularly interesting reading now, capturing as it does the weird headiness and naivete of the time.

Mick has a signature dark style and while holed up in LA and New York during the Bush years, bunkered down in the wee small hours with Jack Daniels for company, he produced a great string of apocalyptic essays post 9/11 which captured well the edgy feel of those times.

A natural contrarian, he remind us that, whilst admiring Bowie he feels it important to point out that this demigod also recorded ‘The Laughing Gnome.’ As time has gone on, his work has got, if anything, pithier – if that’s a word – and his smart gnomic utterances on the bleak blackness of what passes for everyday life in the 21st century continue to provide salutary reading on his Doc40 blog and Facebook.

See Previous Posts: 60s Underground: Mick Farren and The Deviants; Inside Dope: Speed Goes Global (including a review of Mick’s fast history of amphetamine; The Underground Press Gazette (stuff of Mick, Boss Goodman – who unexpectedly turned up on my doorstep yesterday)  - and Edward Barker [who we all still miss].

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Never one to miss a trick, Felix Dennis bounces back from his recent treatment for throat cancer with a new British and European poetry tour. You can read Sean O’Hagan’s article here although don’t expect any surprises. He singularly fails to reveal anything new plus the piece has several errors in captioning and spelling.  As a longtime friend of Felix’s from the days of Oz onwards its good to see him roaring forward. The grim reaper will get him eventually but not without a struggle. These two new books have arrived in recent months

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Former Senior Editor at US Maxim, Jason Kersten joined the tour bus in 2010 to record the shenanigans on one of Felix’s previous poetry outings. Naturally Felix travels by helicopter. Its a chatty account and brings to life the nutty side of such enterprises. Having attended several of the Brighton gigs on these tours I can attest the wine is good and the audience is appreciative. As the years have progressed the stage show has got tighter and Felix, being a natural showman, wins everybody over. Catch him this time round. Full details here . The book is published by Ebury Press.

FELIX4104 - Copy ‘A Garret In Goodge Street’ by Mark Williams is a limited edition history of the first 40 years of Dennis Publishing. Many of us served time on such classic mags as TV/SCI-FI Monthly, Star Wars Monthly and numerous one-off poster magazines. Needless to say I eagerly scanned the index to find mention of my name. I’m noted as one of ‘a floating retinue of ex-underground freelancers, including Jonathon Green, John May, Chris Rowley and Mick Farren.’ on page 26. In the Index it says page 29. This pic of me is on p89. Check the Dennis publishing website to see whether any copies are still available.

 

 

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Finally, also receive a name check in Mick Kidd’s delightfully titled autobiography ‘From Earache To Eternity’ in which Mick entertainingly takes us through his helter skelter life story at a brisk pace. Much of it involves squatting or looking after friend’s pads, finding new girlfriends and cycling long distances.

 

Mick and Chris Garratt are of course best known for Biff cartoons which appeared in The Guardian  for many years and many other publications. Mick has wry turn of wit  and this self-published work through Dory Press really captures the flavour of those long-lost times. You can order a book direct from Mick Kidd by sending him a cheque made out in his name for £10 (inc p&p) to 42 Ferme Park Road, London N4 4ED. E-Book available here on Amazon.

Of courses memories are funny things. Mick records that he applied for the post of Business Manager at Frendz magazine. he says: ‘The Editor John May sent me a friendly letter saying it was obvious that I had no business  experience but that I could write’. An article from Mick on Synchronicity was published but I have no reminiscence of the first incident.

On the following page he writes that an article on dreams was held over ‘but later appeared in Index of Possibilities, envisaged as a three-part-survey-come-UK equivalent of the Whole Earth Catalogue. In the event only the first instalment ‘Energy’ was published.’ So far so good.

‘Frendz and Index were both devised in a room in Blenheim Crescent off Portobello Road with music playing in the background. (Unfortunately the music in question was The Eagles…). Everyone sat round a large round table firing off suggestions and ideas, like a spaced out version of the Alonquin Circle. rejected ideas were dismissed with ‘impossible even on Venus’. At one point I was asked to write the dream piece while in a dream state.’

In fact Frendz was produced from 305/307 Portobello Rd and had closed before the Index started at 2 Blenheim Crescent. Full details about the Index on this Previous Post.

Mick is listed in the index as ‘Interplanetary News’ on the page on dreams entitled ‘Midnight Movies’ but the actual piece is credited to Dr Ulixes Brent, no doubt a pseudonym. In the thanks and credits Mick is listed as ‘the interplanetary explorer, for mutual rip-offs’

The correspondence files of the Index contain many letters and cards from Mick. Typical one reads:

Dear John May and the Hurricanes: I’d like to call round to see you either Tuesday or Thursday this week. I’d like to find out where Clare Hodgson lives and also tell about an idea I have for a new paper called INTERPLANETARY NEWS. The universe in 185,000,000,000,000 wacky instalments starring Frank Sinatra as the Crab Nebula and Rick van Schmidt as a blues guitar player. Some press previews:

‘This is the paper I’ve been waiting for since 1066’ – Irate, Manchester.

‘A breathtaking sweep. The editor obviously has no idea what he’s “on about”

I AM WHAT I AM WHEN IT IS

See you in the eyeshade parlour by the street of a thousand joss sticks by the great green greasy Limpopo.

Cosmick

UNDERCURRENTS ARCHIVE

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Following on from the previous post, the Archive of Undercurrents – the magazine of radical and alternative technology 1972-1984 is now online 

http://undercurrents1972.wordpress.com/

Saturday, May 11, 2013

CLANDESTINO: MANU CHAO & PETER CULSHAW

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It a sense Chao and Culshaw were twins separated at birth. Both will admit to being addicted to travel.

Culshaw was dubbed by Malcolm McLaren ‘the Indiana Jones of world music.’

THE GENERALIST has known Culshaw since the late ‘70s when he was living in a well-organised squat just up the road from the Grays Inn Road office of Harold Evans’ Sunday Times. Around the same time he was editing the alternative technology magazine Undercurrents. His interest and understanding of alt politics remains intact. Between then and now he has circled the globe meeting and interviewing scores of the world’s most important musicians, usually in their home territory. A composer and musician himself, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of what has become known as ‘world music’ and writes about it with passion, brio, understanding and humour.

Chao disappeared for years after the break-up of his band ‘Mano Negra’ and roamed the favelas of Rio, Mexico and Africa – during which the tunes, sounds and passions he found there wove their way into Clandestino – Manu’s album that slowly slowly, transmitted by travellers, sold millions and turned him into a global figure in the South – bearing comparison to Marley and Strummer. A man who spoke for the dispossessed, for the anti-globalists; whose heart and politics came from the right place.

Culshaw first set out to meet Chao in 2001 and has been chasing him ever since. They met in Brazil, Senegal, Barcelona, Paris and other places I can’t recall. This work has been at least a five-year labour of love - fraught and freighted with problems and professional difficulties. The result is a substantial and intelligent multi-level narrative that sweeps the reader through time and space, following this most mercurial of musicians through all his many moods, locations and beliefs.

We begin in Paris where Manu was born in 1961 to Spanish parents (one Galician, one Basque). His father was a journalist and the house was full of culture and cultural exiles – including Gabriel Garcia Marquez who said memorably  ‘He was a pain in the neck when he was four – and still is!’

Manu and family lived outside the Périphérique and it is here that he started playing rock ‘n’ roll, then rockabilly and punk. He idolised Dr Feelgood, hung out in squats and founded a band called Mano Negra who became the biggest band in the history of French rock before disintegrating after a four-month boat trip around Latin America and a risky rail journey through the Colombian narco-war countryside.

Devastated and adrift, Manu went missing in action for three years. He began experimenting with peyote, had a mystical encounter with a white cow and roamed, never staying in one place for more than two weeks.

Manu roams and the book follows: Naples, Bogota, Mexico City, Tijuana, Chiapas, Rio, Madrid , Paris, Dakar, Barcelona, Genoa.

There is no respite in the book’s Part 2: In Search of Manu. Culshaw, intrepid reporter, meets him in Barcelona (a home base), New York, Buenos Aires (where Manu organises musical events inside a mental institution), a refugee camp in the Sahara, in Mexico (the chapter is called ‘Machetes, Mariarchi and Meths’) Brixton Babylon (where Manu met Strummer), Brazil with the Goddess and a final encounter. An atmospheric final posting from Finisterre, the land of Manu’s roots, strikes a spiritual note.

This is a great tale told with a genuine enthusiasm, relish, insight and – I would say – broadness of vision. Culshaw is equally at home explaining the complicated lineage of Brazilian street music as he is exploring the philosophy and actions of the Zapatista.This is Pete’s first book which I hope very much will be soon followed by many others.

It is also worth noting that the book itself is a satisfying piece of design and production with its fold-out cover flaps and solid binding. I also like the fact the fine black and white images in the book are peppered throughout rather than trapped in a central section

‘Clandestino’ is, like the album of the same name, a book that will grow through word of mouth and will, I believe, find a ready audience who will consider this a seminal work.

‘Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao’ by Peter Culshaw is published by Serpent’s Tail

SEE ALSO: You can read much more of Pete Culshaw’s excellent journalism on the website of The Arts Desk, of which he is one of the founding editors. 

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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Article about Pete and Undercurrents magazine by Andrew Tyler in the NME in Nov 1981.

Monday, April 22, 2013

ROCK JOURNALISM HISTORY: MUSIC MAGAZINES

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Following on from my last post, further trawling through The Generalist Archive has turned up some other pioneering music magazines from yesteryear.

Above is one of my great favourites – the first issue of Rolling Stone that I was able to buy in Britain. It was probably available in London but this was the first issue I’d spotted in the South. I can vividly remember buying it from an old-fashioned newsstand on Brighton station. It is actually Issue 25 dated Jan 4,1969. Little did I know at that point that the following July I would see the MC5 live at Phun City – their first ever British gig.

[See Previous Posts: ARCHIVE: ROCK FESTIVALS 1969-1972 and 60s UNDERGROUND: JOHN SINCLAIR]

 

CREEM089‘Irreverence’ was CREEM’s stock in trade. A hugely influential magazine, CREEM is credited with first use of the term ‘punk rock’ and ‘heavy metal’. Based in and around Detroit, they championed Iggy, the MC5, Alice Cooper amongst many others, and ridiculed the pomposity of the music business. There’s a good Wikipedia entry and more good stuff on the magazine’s official website. I like this quote from an essay by Lisa Brody:

‘CREEM employed an indelible coterie of writers of broad literary and cultural scope (and a first-rate sense of fun) including Robert Chistgau, Dave Marsh, Patti Smith, Greil Marcus, nowhere-near–famous cubby Cameron Crowe and, of course, the muddy-water stream-of-consciousness of Lester Bangs.’

Here’s a slice of Lester’s work, reproduced in an interesting essay - ‘Can’t Forget the Motor City: CREEM magazine, Rock Music, Detroit Identity, Mass Consumerism and the Counterculture’ by Michael J. Kramer.

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‘Well, a lot of changes have gone down since Hip first hit the heartland. There's a new culture shaping up, and while it's certainly an improvement on the repressive society now nervously aging, there is a strong element of sickness in our new, amorphous institutions. The cure bears viruses of its own. The Stooges carry a strong element of sickness in their music, a crazed, quaking uncertainty, an errant foolishness that effectively mirrors the absurdity and desperation of the times, but I believe that they also carry a strong element of cure, a post-derangement sanity. And I also believe that their music is as important as the product of any rock group working today, although you better never call it art or you may wind up with a deluxe pie in the face. What it is, instead, is what rock and roll at heart is and always has been, beneath the stylistic distortions the last few years have wrought. The Stooges are not for the ages--nothing created now is--but they are most implicitly for today and tomorrow and the traditions of two decades of beautifully bopping, manic, simplistic jive.’

Bangs had a big influence on the NME and as I recall came to London to hang out there. He died too young in 1982 aged just 33. Nick Kent made a pilgrimage to see him which is recounted in his autobiography ‘Apathy For The Devil’. See PREVIOUS POST: NICK KENT

 

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‘Who Put The Bomp’ was a rock music mag edited and published by Greg Shaw from 1970-1979. This issue is No 10-11 dated Fall 1973 and is devoted almost entirely to British beat groups. Wikipedia calls it a fanzine but this issue carries an emphatic headline at the top of the contents page: NOT A FANZINE.

Lester Bangs and Greil Marcus were amongst the contributors. Shaw had previously worked with David Harris on one of the earliest rock fanzines Mojo Navigator and Rock ‘n ‘ Roll News in 1966. He later established Bomp! Records which he ran until his death in 2004.

All this stuff is brought together in a book - ‘Bomp! Saving the World One Record At A Time’ by Suzy Shaw and Mick Farren. See www.bomp.com

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Fusion is more of a mystery. As the name suggests, it brought together music with politics and culture. There is no Wikipedia entry for the magazine or its editor Richard  Somma so don’t know when the paper started and finished. The Kinks issue (left) is dated Nov 28th and probably dates from 1969. It opened out to an A3 format. On the right is an issue Feb 1973 with a different A4 format, stapled, with glossy cover and newsprint innards.

I am indebted to the I Witness blog for the following. No idea who the writer is:

‘Once there was a fine Boston-based rock-and-politics magazine called Fusion. It survived for several years in the late Sixties and early Seventies as a solid rival to Rolling Stone. Among those writing for it were Robert Somma (Editor), Michael Lydon, Paul Williams, Robert Christgau, Lenny Kaye, Sandy Pearlman, Nick Tosches, Jonathan Demme, Robert Gordon, John Gabree, and William Kunstler. The magazine even published Peter Guralnick's first book. As far as I know, Fusion has vanished into rock history now, but I published a few decent pieces in it.’

There is a reprint of a cover story article that Robert Somma wrote for Fusion on the birth and death of the Boston Sound.

See also Robert Christgau’s ‘A History of Rock Criticism’ in which Fusion is noted as ‘cerebral’

 

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These are rare issues of the short-lived rock fortnightly ‘Strange Days’ which was conceived and edited by my old mate Mark Williams who was kind enough to fill me in on the mag’s back story:

‘Having worked for Rolling Stone and launched/edited International Times’ music section (‘Plug ‘n’ Socket), I was keen to launch something distinctly British that embraced the irreverence and cultural values of the latter and the focus of the former. My naive mistake was to approach the UK arm of America’s Kinney Corp, then publishing Marvel Comics over here under licence, as I thought they’d ‘get it’ and wanted to move further into the young adult market. They indeed were willing, but I had to jump through hoops to keep editorial control and the stress of doing so, and setting up a new mag from scratch, got the better of me. When the first couple of issues failed to sell in the numbers Kinney expected, they pulled the plug and wouldn’t let me try and re-finance it elsewhere.’

Incidentally, the subject of the third issue’s cover story - ‘Britain’s Greatest Unknown Group’ were a Birmingham band named Bachdenkel. Find out more about them here.

SEE ALSO PREVIOUS POST: ZIGZAG MAGAZINE. Features the covers of the first 16 issues.