Monday, April 22, 2013



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.



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.

Lester Bangs.jpg

‘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



‘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



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’



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.

Sunday, April 14, 2013



This is a post triggered through reading the The Times obituary of this man – Paul Williams – billed by them: ‘Writer hailed as the ‘godfather of rock journalism.’ This intrigued me.



‘It's not too much of a stretch to say that Paul Williams invented rock criticism. Yes, there were others in the U.S., including Mike Jahn at the New York Times and Al Aronowitz at the the New York Post, Lillian Roxon as the New York correspondent for various Australian newspapers, and Gloria Stavers at 16 magazine who covered the emerging rock culture in the 1960s. But it was the critical vocabulary Williams developed, his highly intelligent but instinctive approach to music and the intellectually rigorous, emotionally transparent, spontaneous style of writing that influenced so many of us.’ – Tribute to Paul Williams by Wayne Robins on his website Wayne’s Words.


So according to Wikipedia, In January 1966, Williams created the first national US magazine of rock criticism (Crawdaddy) on the campus of Swarthmore College with the help of some fellow science fiction fans. The first issue was 10 mimeographed pages written entirely  by Williams.’

According to The Times: ‘Williams was a precocious 17-year old college student when the first few issues were produced in fanzine style from his college dormitory. Within 18 months, Crawdaddy’s circulation had grown from 500 mimeographed copies to 25,000 and the magazine had an office in New York.’

Crawdaddy was launched 18-months before Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone. The magazine’s tribute to Williams by David Fricke is here

The name came from the Richmond Club where the Rolling Stones played their early gigs.

According to a great piece on the website by Jim DeRogatis

‘Wenner came to him a year later when he started Rolling Stone to ask for some advice. Williams told the future publishing magnate that what readers wanted most was hard information about the musicians they loved. “I wasn’t interested in giving it to them,” Williams told me when I interviewed him in the late ’90s. “To me it was about what we could learn about each other through our responses to music. I recognized from the beginning that Jann would leave me in the dust, but that was fine. I didn’t even try to compete.”

‘Indeed, Williams left the magazine he founded in 1968—though by that time, under his editorship,Crawdaddy! had published many of the most important voices of early rock criticism, including Jon Landau (future manager of Bruce Springsteen), Sandy Pearlman (future manager of Blue Oyster Cult and producer of the Clash’s second album), and most importantly Richard Meltzer—the first true individualist in rock writing, predating and inspiring even the great Lester Bangs. Williams gave all of them the most valuable gift any editor can give a writer: the space and the freedom to make a mess on the page. But he never stopped writing himself.’


This is the earliest issue of Crawdaddy in The Generalist Archive from 5th March 1972. Its fire-damaged (in case your wondering) and is only Section Two. [I’ve got six other issues from 1973/1974 in better condition.]

That’s Jim Capaldi, former drummer with Traffic, in the US promoting his first solo album. The mag also contains articles on Ravi Shankar, Todd Rundgren [I think that’s him on either side of Capaldi on the cover], Nilsson, filmmaker John Cassavetes and Bo Diddley. More importantly for our immediate purposes, an article by Paul Williams and Ray Mungo entitled ‘A Voyage to Japan’ which includes this fabulous photo of the two of them by Rosanne Rubinstein.


This is a real interesting discovery. Raymond Mungo (right) was it turned out, the co-founder of the Liberation News Service, a New Left Underground press news service, which published bulletins from 1967 ton 1981. According to Wikipedia he’s still alive. There’s a great post about him on the blog Yunchtime


This is the cover of one package of material from the Liberation News Service, part of a haul that runs from Issue 430 [April 27, 1972] to Issue 473 [October 18, 1972], with some issues missing, held in the Generalist Archive. Cover pic shows black activist Angela Davis with unidentified other. Packages of material from LNS was sent to all underground papers and contained pages of b&w photography and cartoons/comix plus pages of news stories, all of which were free to reproduce. Mainly political material.

Okay back to Paul and Crawdaddy. Much more on the mag in this Wikipedia entry, including its tangled history up to the present time. 

This book contains the early issues of Crawdaddy. You can read some extracts on Google Books here.

The first issue (Feb 7th 1966] carried an editorial entitled ‘Get off My Cloud’  which begins as follows:

‘You are looking at the first issue of a magazine of rock ‘n’ roll criticism. Crawdaddy! will feature neither pin-ups nor news-briefs; the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing about pop music. Billboard, Cash Box etc, serve very well as trade news magazines; but their idea of a review is: “a hard-driving rhythm number that should spiral rapidly up the charts just as (previous hit by same group) slides.” And the teen magazines are devoted to rock ‘n’ roll, but their idea of a discussion is a string of superlatives below a fold-out photograph. Crawdaddy! believes that someone is the US might be interested in what others have to say about the music they like.’

Paul Williams, Crawdaddy Founder, 'Godfather of Rock Criticism'  Dead at 64

Paul Williams in Times Square (via Boo-Hooray)

Fortunately there is a really great and lengthy interview with Paul Williams on by Pat Thomas (with Christopher Gurk) called ‘The Godfather of Rock Criticism’. It was done in a cafe in Koln,Germany in the mid-1990s. Tribute by Pat to Paul on an blog site

The interview is full of interesting stuff. He reveals that his model for Crawdaddy!  was a folk magazine called the Boston Broadside and he was also inspired by sf ‘zines.  Here’s a brief bit.

Pat Thomas:   How was Crawdaddy! initially published and distributed?

Paul Williams:   Well, it started out completely as a fanzine, and the first issue I mailed out to record companies and radio stations, and waited for something to happen. Same thing with the second issue. And I began selling it in newsstands in Boston and around Philadelphia and New York, and each issue kind of grew a little. We really didn't know anything was happening, it might've died between the third issue--there was a big gap, I think the third issue came out in March, I was still at Swarthmore. And then I had that problem which caused me to drop out of college, that you know about, Richard Farina's death. I went back to Boston, didn't know what I was going to do, and finally put together another issue of Crawdaddy! that was mimeographed and sold it at the Newport Folk Festival in July. And that, actually, was kind of a breakthrough. We put Bob Dylan on the cover, which was a good idea [laughs]; we sold a lot of copies at Newport. Simon & Garfunkel's office actually gave me $100 to write a little bio or something, but it was a way of giving me some money so I could print the next issue. But the response to that issue was very encouraging. And the other thing was I met Jac Holzman of Elektra at Newport, and he bought the first national ad for the next issue of the magazine, so it's like, all right, now we can do the next issue!’

FARINA1081 The bit I’ve underlined is really interesting. Why would Williams drop out of college because Richard Farina died? [Have found the answer here thanks to Pat Thomas.

‘Paul had been particularly close to singer/songwriter Richard Farina (best known as the writer of the seminal "Pack Up Your Sorrows" as well as the brother-in-law of Joan Baez, via his marriage to her sister Mimi). When Farina died, tragically young, in 1966 after a motorcycle accident, a penniless Williams attempted to stow away on a freight plane going from Philadelphia to California to attend the funeral. He was caught, arrested and briefly detained. Decades later, he wrote an article about how distraught he was by being unable to say "goodbye" to a friend and hero.’


Fariña died in a bike accident on April 30th, 1966, two days after the publication of his cult book ‘Been Down So Long It Looked Like Up To Me’

Fariña is, incidentally, a very interesting cat who I was into in a big way in the 1970s due to his novel and the records he made with Joan Baez’s sister Mimi Baez Farina. There’s a fabulous book that called ‘Positively 4th Street by David Hadja which documents the relationships between the Fariñas and Dylan & Joan. Must reread this. Just discovered that Pynchon dedicated ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ to Farina.

Back to Paul Williams and the chronology of his life with details extracted from the Paul Williams website and support fund site. Williams suffered from dementia and his money had to be raised for his medical bills.

In March 1967 he was organiser of the first New York City “Be-In”

In October 1968 he left Crawdaddy! after editing the first 19 issues and moved to a cabin in the woods in Mendocino, California.

In 1969 his first book ‘Outlaw Blues’ was published and he wrote a second called ‘Pushing Upwards’. He was to produce more than 24 books in total.

In 1969 he also was present for the recording of Give Peace A Chance’ in Lennon and Ono’s hotel bedroom in Montreal

That same year he ran Timothy Leary’s campaign to become governor of California.

He also hitched a ride to Woodstock in the Grateful Dead’s limousine.

What I didn’t know about Paul Williams was that he was a huge fan and friend of the sf writer Philip K. Dick, helped gain a wider readership for his work, wrote his biography and became his literary executor for a period. He also founded the Philip K. Dick Society after his death.

There’s a great post about their relationship on the ever excellent website.

He also pulled together ‘The Collected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon’.

‘His role in science-fiction fandom and the “zine” revolution also place him as a pivotal figure in the history of pre-internet self-publishing and fan culture.’

I also didn’t know that you could hear him locking and loading a rifle on The doors’ ‘Unknown Soldier’

Or that he was introduced to marijuana by Brian Wilson while sitting in a tent in Wilson’s living room listening to what would become ‘Smile.’



Hollywood Reporter

Boston Globe

The Slog




Final Treasure from the GENERALIST ARCHIVE:

This is a very rare copy of the only issue of ‘Rallying Point’ – a cultural/political journal founded by Paul Williams and Michael Price. The title came from the I Ching and the hexagram ‘Holding Together.’  It was published in Jan 1974

‘When there is a real rallying point, those who at first are hesitant or uncertain gradually come in of their own accord.’

The cover shows Bob Dylan with Sam Ervin, chair of the Senate Watergate Committee. The back cover by Alicia Bay Laurel

The centre of the magazine is the complete text of ‘Neurologic’ by Timothy Leary. Editorial intro says: ‘This book is another reason why Dr Timothy Leary is in solitary confinement in a California prison. You can download the text from

Sunday, April 07, 2013


iPhone Screenshot 1

Following on from Previous Post, picked up the latest NME to read about their now annual campaign to find Britain’s best small music venue. Last year’s winner was the Forum in Tunbridge Wells. By their definition, small venues hold 500 people or less. You can vote for your favourite at NME.Com/smallvenues

Many great small venues – always the best place to see music live – have closed down in recent years as the NME highlights. The situation is somewhat analogous to the record store situation. By bringing the issue to national attention, the value of these small venues will be recognised. People are beginning to realise that the future of music rests not on digital downloads and virtual experiences but on grassroots action. Live music and the local scene has become even more important in these benighted times.

iPhone Screenshot 2



Pleased to see in the same issue tips to the hat for two of The Generalist’s favourite people, both of whom I have done extensive interviews with.


Following the NME’s cover story on the upcoming Stone Roses documentary by Shane Meadows, the paper features a Top 10 line-up of the greatest examples of rock movie-making. Included is Grant Gee’s very excellent Radiohead movie ‘Meeting People Is Easy’ which follows the band on their exhausting world tour in support of their 1997 album ‘OK Computer.’ Its unusual and insightful into the realities of global promotion. The band burn out in front of your eyes.


My favourite of Grant’s film to date is the brilliant Joy Division documentary he made with Jon Savage. You can read my excitable early review of the film.

My lengthy 2008  interview with Grant about the making of the film is on the AUDIO GENERALIST site.

Grant also shot and edited [with Mat Whitecross] the remarkable doc ‘Scott Walker: 30 Century Man’ for which David Bowie was Executive Producer.


Most recently I watched with great interest ‘Patience’, Grant’s most recent film following the journey the late writer W.G. Sebald made across Suffolk, which formed the basis of his now famous book ‘The Rings of Saturn’. Beautifully shot on b&w film stock , the subject suits perfectly Grant’s multilevel collage film-making approach. Three-quarters of the way through I remembered that I still had Grant’s number in my book (yes I still have a phone book). The number still worked, Grant was at home and a few days later we met up at the Lewes Arms for a catch-up. I’m sworn to secrecy at present about his next documentary project but it promises to be interesting. There’s a great 2001 interview with Sebald here. Also a great post on Richard Skinner’s blog on Max Sebald’s Writing Tips.



Good to also see the great British poet Michael Horovitz in the NME. He recently performed at the Albert Hall with Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn from Blur with Paul Weller (on drums!!). The results of their collaboration is a full album and single to be released on Record Store Day.

I conducted a long in-depth interview with Mike on 25th October 2007 which can be found on the AUDIO GENERALIST site. I was pleased to discover today that my interview is also linked via Mike’s Wikipedia site.

This followed my attendance at a launch event in September  that year for his magnum opus ‘A New Waste Land’. See full report and picture here. Mike has done more than any other single person to promote and develop poetry in Britain over the last 50 years at least. Hats off to this man.

Monday, April 01, 2013




The rise of Record Store Day, now in its sixth year, is an interesting phenomenon with wide implications.

The idea originated in the US as a reaction to the widespread closure of independently owned record stores due to a number of factors: the general shift towards downloading music from the net or shopping on-line plus the intrusion of supermarkets offering massive discounts.It seemed like the end.

According to figures from Almighty Music Marketing, more than 4,000 record stores in the US (including many record retail chains) closed between 2000 and 2010. They put the 2012 figure for surviving shops at 1,600.

Record Store Day is this year being celebrated by more than 700 indie stores in the US. Record Store Day has also spread to 20 other countries.

In the UK, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association, in 2003 there were 948 indie shops and privately owned small chains selling music. By 2007, this figure had fallen to 408 – a closure rate of one shop every 2.7 days. By 2009, there were just 269 left.

Record Store Day in the UK provided the focus that brought together indie labels, bands and shops in a 24-hour celebration. Participating shops sell specially-released records and host live events. According to Spencer Hickman of Rough Trade: ‘Its like an urban Glastonbury’.

Hickman believes the decline has been halted. In 2010, twelve new stores opened. This he believes is because indie shops have raised their game and found a niche in the market. That niche has a great deal to do with the rise of interest in vinyl records.

Hickman told The Guardian in an April 2011 story by Alexandra Topping headlined ‘Independent record stores increase for the first time in a generation’:

"The fact that we have seen new stores opening this year shows that there are still music lovers who want to buy physical music from people who are just as enthusiastic as they are. There are lots of people who still want music as an art form not just a download."

‘Vinyl has provided an unlikely lifeline in the independent music market. Of the 232 exclusive releases as part of Record Store Day, 220 are on vinyl with just 10 on CD and two on cassette.’

Unable to find more up to date figures at present but in Brighton, my nearest city, we lost two record shops in 2012 – Rounder Records and Borderline. This leaves two shops still operating – The Record Album, a leading specialist in vinyl film soundtracks and Resident.


Thanks to Union Music Store who forwarded me the following information from the ERA which provides some up-to-date statistics.

There will be more than 200 participating stores across the UK and Ireland. In 2012 there were more than 450 exclusive releases; expected to be more than 500 in 2013.

Vinyl sales have been growing for the past five years and in 2012 increased 15.3% over 2011’s sales on the back of 44% increase the previous year.





Years ago someone told me that 1,200 high school kids were given a survey. A question was posed to them: Have you ever been to a stand-alone record shop? The number of kids that answered "yes" was... zero.

Zero? How could that be possible? Then I got realistic and thought to myself, "Can you blame them?" How can record shops (or any shop for that matter) compete with Netflix, TiVo, video games that take months to complete, cable, texting, the Internet, etc. etc? Getting out of your chair at home to experience something in the real world has started to become a rare occurrence, and to a lot of people, an unnecessary one. Why go to a bookstore and get a real book? You can just download it. Why talk to other human beings, discuss different authors, writing styles and influences?  Just click your mouse.  Well here's what they'll someday learn if they have a soul; there's no romance in a mouse click.  There's no beauty in sitting for hours playing video games (anyone proud of that stop reading now and post your opinion in the nearest forum).  The screen of an iPhone is convenient, but it’s no comparison to a 70mm showing of a film in a gorgeous theater.  The Internet is two-dimensional…helpful and entertaining, but no replacement for face-to-face interaction with a human being.  But we all know all of that, right?  Well, do we?  Maybe we know all that, but so what?

Let's wake each other up.

The world hasn't stopped moving. Out there, people are still talking to each other face-to-face, exchanging ideas and turning each other on. Art houses are showing films, people are drinking coffee and telling tall tales, women and men are confusing each other and record stores are selling discs full of soul that you haven’t felt yet.  So why do we choose to hide in our caves and settle for replication?  We know better.  We should at least. We need to re-educate ourselves about human interaction and the difference between downloading a track on a computer and talking to other people in person and getting turned onto music that you can hold in your hands and share with others.  The size, shape, smell, texture and sound of a vinyl record; how do you explain to that teenager who doesn't know that it's a more beautiful musical experience than a mouse click?  You get up off your ass, you grab them by the arm and you take them there.  You put the record in their hands.  You make them drop the needle on the platter.  Then they'll know. 

Let's wake each other up.

As Record Store Day Ambassador of 2013 I’m proud to help in any way I can to invigorate whoever will listen with the idea that there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves.

Let's wake each other up.




‘Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again’ by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo [Sterling Publishing 2009] is an illustrated history of US record stores, a narrative that ends with a chapter on the foundation of Record Store Day. The book has an intro by REMs Peter Buck




pfilms004 RECORD SHOP DAY2070

This is the documentary and the book of ‘Last Shop Standing’ by Graham Jones. Graham was one of the founders of Proper Music Distribution and spent 20 years visiting records shops all over the UK. Alarmed by the rapid decline of record retail, he set out to make one-last tour of 50 of his favourite shops, which are recorded in loving detail. The book, published by Proper Music Publishing in 2009, led to the documentary which came out in 2012. It ends on a positive note.


‘Sound It Out’ is a partially crowd-funded documentary about the very last record shop in Teesside, a bleak industrial area in the north-east of England. Directed by Jeanie Finlay it brings home the value of the indie record shop to the local community. Tom who runs the shop has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and obviously cares about his quirky customers, which includes a guy who has seen 400 Status Quo gigs. Its a delight.

See Also: ‘Independent record shops say they are open for business’ by Andrew Glover [BBC News/16th Jan 2013]

‘Independent Record Shops: 10 of the best in Britain’ The Guardian/24 March 2013]