Really, it ought to make me feel old, since the cover story, "1977: The year punk exploded!" is an update on the bands that were my favorites when I truly was young and hip. I'm sure most of Spin's current reader base weren't even born in 1977. But that's OK. They need a little education about bands like The Clash and the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. It's the antidote for too much Britney.
I should qualify this review by saying that I was a charter subscriber when Spin first launched in 1985 and I was a huge fan of the magazine. In 1990, when I was a rookie newspaper reporter, I was taken under the wing of legendary music writer Jane Scott at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. We were backstage at a Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes concert when who should appear but Jon Bon Jovi and Spin founder and publisher Bob Guccione Jr. Instead of attaching myself to Bon Jovi, like any 21-year-old girl in her right mind should have, I gravitated to Guccione. He was more of a rock god to me than any musician could ever be.
Guccione is no longer running the show, but his legend lives on. The magazine is still a blast to read and I'm thinking about re-subbing. What's not to love about a magazine that changes the "N" in Spin to a "T" on the masthead page -- in honor of the spirit of punk, no doubt?
The cover story package is astounding, covering punk on all fronts (London, New York and Los Angeles) and tracking down its legends for roundtable reunion Q&As. The interview with the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten is insightful and cheeky. It was written by someone (Jack Rabid) who knows the subject matter well. The photographs accompanying the Q&As are a bit scary. Let's just say they weren't retouched and not everyone is aging as well as, say, Penelope Houston, 49, of The Avengers, who looks absolutely fabulous. You go, girl!
The non-punk stories were equally compelling. The "Noise" section of the magazine, "Music News and More, Played at Full Blast," covers a range of topics. A Q&A with Simon LeBon, formerly of Duran Duran, made me laugh out loud in its candor. Another piece explores how bands find replacement members since the use of classified ads is dying (they've gone digital, of course.) Another good read is simply a chart with rockers reviewing fall television pilots. On the serious side, an article delves into how foreign music acts trying to tour in the U.S. are dealing with more restrictive immigration controls.
If you aren't exactly up to speed on the latest music, you will be after reading the 12 pages of CD reviews. There's a nice mix of genres covered and it's not all about bands that you've never heard of, although the snappy and descriptive writing did prompt me to check out a few.
Thanks to this issue of Spin, I've discovered a new band to love, The Fiery Furnaces. So maybe I'm back on the road to hipness.
Published by: Spin Media LLC/The McEvoy Group LLC