Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seven boxes sit in my living room. They mostly contain magazines, gathered from my friend Rickey's place, to be dealt with by those closest to him at a later date. So it's a temporary library for me. It's odd that he died a month and a half ago now; the time frame seems to swim in shallow water for me, not quite reachable. A lot of issues of Mojo, which is one of those magazines I'll never fully connect with conceptually. On the one hand, filling an entire feature well with stuff on the Beatles is very in line with my own feelings about them; on the other, um, what year is this? Then again, Mojo is still around and still seems to be doing well, as so many other publishing endeavors, paper and non, devoted to stuff that's actually occurring at the moment have belly-flopped or withered slowly or are being left to die on the vine that, you know, who can blame them? Maybe all anyone wants to read about anymore is the fucking Beatles. But it works to my advantage to have them, since I'm thinking about a project that deals with the past, too. I'm going through the Mojos to glean usable artist quotes and occasionally other things, and while I'm not finding as many as I would if I were doing, I don't know, the 8,000,000th Beatles book, it's still helpful.

The most pleasure has come from a trio of 1995-96 issues of Details. I'd forgotten what an absolute pleasure this magazine was to read. Sharp, very well designed, bright in that period's manner but modern enough to jump out even now, and plenty of good writers. This is where a lot of folks learned their trade, and where I learned to pay attention to magazines that weren't only about music. Sharp mix of U.S. and U.K. writers; Chris Heath became my favorite profile writer via Details. And of course Rob Sheffield getting three whole pages to review ten CDs plus some quick-cut one-liners on many more. June 1995, with scores out of 10: The Black Dog's Spanners (9), Hurricane's The Hurra (a probably generous 6), Kendra Smith's Five Ways of Disappearing (8), Wynton Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis's Joe Cool's Blues (8), Terence Trent D'Arby's Vibrator (8--the kind of record that gets this score and is never played again), Yo La Tengo's Electr-O-Pura (9), Guy Clark's Dublin Blues (7), Sleeper's Smart (6, which I'd have given it too, and then recalled years later and wondered why I was being so nice), M People's Bizarre Fruit (8; this was one of the CDs I held on to forever past any intention of ever needing to hear it again, though the U.S. version of Elegant Slumming is still awesome), Blumfeld's L'Etat et Moi (8), plus shorties on Hendrix, Thurston Moore, the B.U.M.S., N.Y. Jungle E.P. on Profile, the Television Personalities, Helium, Marty Stuart, Tish Hinojosa, Radiohead ("On The Bends [Capitol], Radiohead try to prove that their 1993 smash "Creep" wasn't just a fluke. Unfortunately, it probably was."), a Major Lance best-of (!), Papa Wemba, and Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor. Three pages, every month, because new CDs were interesting to people. Actual sentences, not weird truncated squibs where you have to struggle to fit in a real idea or two. Sigh.