Category: Medialoper Classic
Originally published by Kade Magazine on September 8, 1994
Posting this here because on last week’s podcast we had a discussion about seeing The Smashing Pumpkins during their post-Siamese Dream phase, as well as Kirk’s assertion that the Pumpkins were better than Nirvana. This article touches on all of that, and is also representative of my take on indie/alternative just as it was beginning to peak out, commercially.
. . . So I was standing on line for Lollapalooza ’94 bumping backpacks with thousands of other cool undergound rockers and there’s this really annoying loud guy right in front of me. He’s pontificating about Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols. Only all of his ideas are completely wrong, which pissed me off. After a few minutes, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I tapped him on the shoulder and went “excuse me, but I’ve been listening to your little lecture on The Pistols and you’ve completely missed the point about McLaren, punk rock and everything.”
He was offended: “Look ‘ere, Mate,” he went with a fake English Accent, “I’ve been writing about Malc for years, and I think I ‘ave a smashing insight on punk.” “Oh yeah,” I went, “well, I just happen to have Malcolm right here, and let’s just find out what he has to say,” and with that I produced Malcolm McLaren, who went to the guy: “Your theories are absolute shite; how you ever got to write about anything is beyond me.” Needless to say, the guy was flabbergasted . . .
Previously, on An Early History of R.E.M.: We have complex, life-long relationships with the bands we love . . . It’s a piece written in 1991 . . . R.E.M. is discovered via Trouser Press flexi-disc . . . Chronic Town was their first EP . . . Murmur becomes an obsession . . . The R.E.M. lyric-deciphering party . . . Later on came Reckoning . . . The great American rock underground coalesced . . . R.E.M. is the “acceptable edge of the unacceptable stuff,” so they’re on a lot of TV shows . . . Interviewing Bill Berry . . . Fables of The Reconstruction of The Fables . . . R.E.M., back in Fresno . . . Their big rock albums . . . The long wait before Out of Time . . . How do you reconcile huge success, when you were originally a group of arty college-age bohos who somehow got world famous for doing exactly what you wanted to do?
And now, the exiting conclusion to An Early History of R.E.M.!!
Written in March, 1992. Published in Rotting America in Summer, 1992
It’s been almost a year since I first posed that question (which just goes to show you how things really work in the wild, wooly, unedited, and unpaid world of ‘zines), and since then R.E.M. have racked up the accolades for Out of Time. They have become the mainstream — winning MTV’s video awards, Rolling Stone’s readers poll, and even a Grammy for “Best Alternative Album.”
Previously, on An Early History of R.E.M.: We have complex, life-long relationships with the bands we love . . . It’s a piece written in 1991 . . . R.E.M. is discovered via Trouser Press flexi-disc . . . Chronic Town was their first EP . . . Murmur becomes an obsession . . . The R.E.M. lyric-deciphering party . . . Later on came Reckoning . . . The great American rock underground coalesced . . . R.E.M. is the “acceptable edge of the unacceptable stuff,” so they’re on a lot of TV shows . . .
And now, Part 2, of An Early History of R.E.M.!!
Written in March, 1991. Published in Rotting America in March, 1992
Oh yeah, something else happened in that summer of 1984 . . . R.E.M. played in Fresno. At a club called the Star Palace. And my roommate Kirk and I got to interview them.
The Star Palace, at some point in its history, used to be an Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio, and now it’s a waste of space, but for about five or six years, it was the coolest place in town to see shows. Since it held four or five hundred people it was perfect for big underground bands, and through some act of the gods which I don’t remember anymore, in June of 1984, R.E.M. and the Dream Syndicate played there.
People have complex relationships with the artists they love. With some artists, the love flares up and dies down almost as fast, never to be rekindled. But with others, that early flare-up settles into a life-long relationship, complete with the ups and downs of any other life-long relationship. For me, one of those artists is R.E.M. 20 years ago, they were probably my most favorite entity on the entire planet, but the post-Bill Berry years have been, er, problematic, and my ardor has cooled. However, they have a new album, Accelerate coming out in a couple of weeks, and I found a copy online and liked what I heard. So I thought that in the next couple of weeks, I would I would go back and republish a something I’ve previously written about them, and then, after the album comes out, look at how things are now. This early history was written for a Fresno ‘zine in 1991: the exact halfway point between when I fell in love with them and fell out of love with them. For better and worse, I haven’t changed a word.
Written in March, 1991. Published in Rotting America in March, 1992
If you’ve ever thought that R.E.M. has ever sold out, you are wrong, dead wrong. R.E.M. has always been one of the most uncompromising bands in rock n’ roll history. Those who have been yelling “sell out” since Lifes Rich Pageant (Fables? Reckoning?) are either A) idiots or B) so enamored of their own cloistered underground hipness and their attitude of “if is popular, it can’t be good,” that they’ve completely twisted into themselves and they wouldn’t know the real world if it came up and bit em in the ass. Or maybe not. That probably is a bit harsh, but R.E.M. has been the soundtrack to my life since I first heard the Trouser Press flexi-disc of “Wolves, Lower” in 1982 . . .
With all of the talk about the death of the music industry, I thought it might be interesting to post another installment of “Medialoper Classic,” our series where we resurrect some of our older writings that might provide perspective on subjects we are currently discussing. This one is about how I made the decision to switch from vinyl to CDs.
It was originally published in CSUF’s Daily Collegian on February 3, 1989
I guess that it all started last summer when I spent almost a month trying to get The Primitives on album. I wandered in Tower Records, a place that I have literally haunted for over ten years, and was shocked and dismayed to discover that they only had it on Compact Disc. As a matter of fact they only had everything on Compact Disc. There was barely a record to be found. And suddenly I woke up. I realize that I’ve spent the last couple (OK, several) years in a drunken haze, and that even sober I not exactly cognizant with the real world, but it has just recently struck me hard in the fact that my most favorite vehicle of recorded music — the 12-inch 33 RPM polyvinylchloride long-playing phonograph record — is fast becoming as obselete as the 8-Track tape, bell-bottom jeans, or the Democratic Party. But why, dammit? Why are records dying??