Thursday, September 5, 2013

Discuss: Rock 'n' Roll Magazines





19 comments:

Matt Celis said...

Only ones worth reading now are British: Mojo and Uncut, both too expensive for me.

Doug said...

We can sure talk about magazines from any era, but I was mainly curious about reading habits in the 1970s and '80s. I know I often picked up Creem and/or Circus from the racks at the grocery store, but I don't recall ever purchasing any copies.

Doug

david_b said...

I'm agreeing with Matt especially on Mojo. I usually look just for that mag ~ It's got great writing, loads of interesting historical tidbits, great cover stories on Beatles, Stones, Who, James Brown, Ramones, etc and I like the typical famous album track 'covers' CD that comes with it. I'm typically buying the issues with Beatle cover CDs, the tracks are hit/miss but always interesting; the Yellow Submarine CD had George Harrison's 'Its All Too Much' done as a country tune. Too funny.

As for Rolling Stone, I can appreciate it for it's original intent and for changing the industry landscape back in '67, but about the time it switched paper/magazine formats in the '80s, it had way too much style over substance, too much general entertainment over plain music. Jann Wenner's a jerk as well ~ Can they get in bed any closer to Democrats and lib issues..? It's their slant, much like the Republic's more conservative I know. But they tend to preach a bit much on environmental issues and politics when they should be focusing on the richness of music, regardless of rock/blues/metal/jazz/pop, you name it. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, 'Just shut up and play your guitar'. We can all get into discussions about RS settling for tabloid shock, whether it's using Charlie Manson or Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to sell mags. Their 'Top 100' whatever tends to be insipid and banal as well; they've long since had any sense of purist direction. I liked Circus for nice color pics for Debby Harry or the Stones, but not much for in-depth journalism.

I'm still hunting down vintage mags with the nice cover stories on comics, either the 1971 RS Hulk issue or the nice 1972 Creem article on Marvel, which had some super insight on the bullpen, focusing on early Conan and Barry Smith art.

http://bigglee.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-creem-1972-marvel-comics-article.html

I finally bought that issue for $10 on eBay last year, well worth it.

Again, Mojo and Uncut are clear winners in this category.

Matt Celis said...

Never bothered reading any Rolling Stone political-type coverage simply because you knew what their position would be without having to read and find out. So predictable it was annoying even if I happened to agree! They really went downhill when they changed format and jettisoned long, in-depth articles and tries to look more like Blender-type mags. Plus putting actors and Britney Spears-types on the cover...really?

Never read Creem or Circus...was never into the music they were covering at the time, although I'd like to read those stories now.

William said...

You know, I don't think I ever bought a single issue of any "Rock 'n' Roll" magazine. I've read a few issues of Rolling Stone before, but they always belonged to someone else.

Hey, I've been a comicbook geek since forever. When I was a kid (or teenager) I wasn't about to waste my limited reading budget on anything that didn't have a Marvel or DC logo on it. :)

Then when I got to be an "adult", the only traditional magazines I usually bought were Tennis Magazine, Mac Addict, Mac World, and video game magazines like GamePro, etc.

If I wanted a R&R fix I'd watch MTV or VH1. In fact, I'll save everyone some time by summarizing the life story of just about every rock star ever. 1) Joined (or started) a band in high-school. 2) At some point got discovered and became hugely famous and successful. 3) Could not handle success and started using drugs. 4) Alienated bandmates causing band to break up. 5) Began abusing drugs even more on an epic scale. -- And then either A) Eventually got cleaned up and is now back in band and making a comeback. OR B) Tragically died of drug overdose. The End.

J.A. Morris said...

I read Spin a lot in the early 90s, and the punk/hardcore magazine Maximum Rock 'n Roll was my favorite for a few years. I've only read Rolling Stone when they've done an interview/feature on a band I like, which happens about once a year.

Karen said...

My brother is six years older than me and used to bring home Creem and Circus all the time, so I read them quite a bit as a youngster. I always felt like I was doing something kind of cool, as the mags often had risque material and it clearly wasn't "kids' stuff. As I got older though, I didn't buy those magazines myself. I did occasionally buy Rolling Stone, but it eventually drifted too far from music, as David mentioned. There was a British mag I used to get sometimes -New Musical Express? I think that was it. Nowadays it's rare that I pick up any magazine at all -so much similar information is available free on-line.

Fred W. Hill said...

I actually have that 1971 RS with the Hulk on the cover, David B, picked up at a used book store a decade or so ago. I also got the one from the week John Lennon was murdered, purchased that same month (along with the issue of Playboy with one of Lennon's last interviews and Barbara Bach on the cover). Otherwise, I regularly got RS and later Spin for much of the '80s & 90s, and from about the mid-90s until a few years ago I got many of the British mags -- Mojo, Uncut & Q, which often came with cds not only with cover songs, but many times rare oldies and new tracks, often by artists I might never have heard otherwise. The Brit mags were far more focused on the music/musicians, and with more in-depth articles, than the U.S. competition. I'll still get one of them occasionally if I notice an article that intrigues me, but with the closure of the two bookstores in recent years where I used to get them (and the surviving bookstores in my area being that much further a drive), as well as trying to budget myself with my entertainment purchases, they've most fallen to the wayside for me.

david_b said...

Despite my earlier rants on RS, they were undoubtably a great source for legendary individuals back in the day, such as Annie Leibovitz and Hunter S. Thompson (Our Father of Gonzo Journalism).

I liked it for it's anti-establishment style in the early days such as provocative interviews with Frank Zappa and Linda Ronstadt, giving Playboy a run for it's money on occasion...

But at some point, it got slick and essentially became the establishment. It basically ignored AC/DC in the 70s, gave 'Let It Be' a terrible review when it came out ~ Now turning 180 degrees on both subjects. Don't get me wrong, revisionism is always going to happen over decades, but somehow it exposes RS's desperate attempts at being topical and relevant.

I did buy the special 'Sixties' issues for the great vintage photos/articles, but for current stuff? Unless it has a cool cover for matting/framing, I'd prefer Mojo.

Garett said...

I bought a Rolling Stone in the '80s when they had a list of top artists. After that in the '90s and '00s I preferred Blender, as it had a better sense of humor and livelier music reviews, and also a better balance between old and new musicians. I did just receive a new Rolling Stone as a gift: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs, with writeups on each of them. Looking forward to reading the details about the creation of these tunes. I've been listening to the Beatles' Love album with new mixes and mashups of their songs--refreshing!

david_b said...

Garett, great mention on 'Love'..

At first glance I wasn't interested in it until I heard some interesting mash-up tracks and decided to purchase. My fav's are still George's acoustic 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' (with strings) and the 'Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows'.

Simply beautiful.

At one point George Martin gave his son Giles exquisite praise of essentially practicing audio alchemy, comparing it to somehow extracting all the elements of a cake back to the basic ingredients.

Anonymous said...

I had a pretty good collection of Circus and Hit Parader mags in the 80s, but I threw them out a few years back. I DO still have a few issues of Metal Hammer around somewhere (yes, I was a headbanger in the 80s!).

Karen, I think NME is still around, but I've never actually read any of them.

Mike W.

Edo Bosnar said...

Like William, I never bought any rock magazines back in the '70s/'80s - when I did read one, it was borrowed from a friend or, like Doug's case, perused at the magazine rack in the store, or, like Karen's case, handed down from an older sibling. Mostly this would be Rolling Stone occasionally, and maybe Creem.
Oddly enough, I only started buying them, albeit occasionally (once, maybe twice a year) when I moved out of the US: usually Rolling Stone, but also Spin, Melody Maker and NME (or New Musical Express - you remembered the title correctly, Karen).

Steve Does Comics said...

The only one I've ever read regularly was the New Musical Express, which I used to read in the late 1970s and early 1980s. All I can remember of its contents is it seemed quite pretentious and had it in for anything that resembled prog rock, which meant the likes of Genesis and Pink Floyd used to get it in the neck virtually every issue.

Actually, the only act I can remember them ever enthusing about were Dexys Midnight Runners who they seemed totally enamoured of.

There was also a really awful music mag I read a few times in the early 80s, called The Face which seemed to be terribly snotty about everyone and everything.

B Smith said...

I'm feeling like the odd one out - there was a time, around 1982, when I would regularly buy every issue of Creem, the New Musical Express, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine, a biweekly Australian paper), Juke (weekly Australian paper), The Record (biweekly Australian Rolling Stone spinoff), The Face (as mentioned by Steve) and Roadrunner (monthly local paper).

In later years I went through periods of getting Q (glossy UK monthly), Voz (NME's attempt to woo the Q crowd), Select (UK glossy monthly), and the aforementioned Mojo and Uncut.

These days I don't buy anything; most of my music reading needs are met online, though I'll still pick one up occasionally depending on who's on the cover (though the glossy monthlies ain't cheap).

redartz said...

Never really read any of the "Rock" magazines, although I went through a phase of reading Billboard magazine each week. Of course, Billboard is oriented towards the business end of music, with little attention to the creative element. I did keep the year end issues for the "Top 100 songs of the Year" charts.

There was an interesting magazine published in 1982 by Kitchen Sink, called "Bop". It was a collection of comic and text stories about music. Among the contributors were Harvey Pekar, Trina Robbins, Marc Hempel and Alex Toth. My favorites were the Jerry Lee Lewis story and the parody of Robert Crumb's blues cards...

Graham said...

I used to read Rolling Stone in the 80's, but stopped after they put the Twin Peaks chicks on the cover the week after Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed. Seemed to me like their priorities had shifted. I also read Musician, which had some nice info on artists, technology, and gear.

I've picked up Mojo a couple of times, but it is too expensive. The main music magazine I read right now is the Oxford American's annual Southern Music issue, which comes with an accompanying CD featuring the music from a particular southern state.

Paul said...

I read Creem some, but didn't care for Circus at all. It was too heavy metal oriented. I was a child of the early 80's (Not the late 80's/ early 90's, as I somehow mistakenly posted a few days back.) I was into the late 70's/ early 80's "New Wave". Creem featured more of those artists.
But, probably my favorite music mag was one called Trouser Press. I'm not sure how well known it is/was, but it seemed to have just the right blend of reverence/ irreverence that suited my taste at the time. (And frankly, probably still would.)

Joseph said...

Sticking with Doug's original theme, I used to buy both Creem and Circus back in the early 80's. My favorite was the listener polls. Although, my clearest memory is being bitter at Circus (a more metal mag) readers because my precious The Who dominated the 1982 polls in Creem but won nothing in Circus. I loved RS's images, but the articles were too wordy for such a young kid.

As I got older, I loved RS and SPIN (had a subscription until they stopped paper print). Now, I have to go online or podcasts for my regular music news and new releases.

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