Sunday, September 10, 2017
Trouser Press - Issue #79 (Nov. 1982)
It's been almost a year since I posted an issue of my favorite rock magazine ever, Trouser Press. So here's a new scan of one that I think is a classic. It's from late 1982 and has features on the Go-Go's, Richard Hell, X, Paul Carrack, Thomas Dolby, and the Motels among others.
As interesting as these features are, they're not the reason I decided to post about Trouser Press again all this time later. What inspired me to dig out this extra-large issue is that it contains a review of an obscure album called (get this) Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong by the experimental cult group Woo.
Something put that title in my head recently. Maybe seeing "Wrong Way" signs on roads? Whatever it was, I finally decided to search out this record. Yes, I know it's been 35 years since the record came out. I do things at my own pace, people.
Reading the review again, it turned out that the writer, Alec Ross, was completely on the mark. The album is interesting but the ideas could have been executed better. The title track is fantastic, and I wish the whole album had been on that level. Ross' advice was for people to limit their listening to a single track at a time, and that still stands. (As an aside, I'll add that Woo's followup album from 1990, Into the Heart of Love, is a first-rate effort with much better melodies and atmospherics and is now considered a classic.)
Beyond the Woo review, this issue is noteworthy because it contains some new features like a question and answer column and record and video charts, both of which are mentioned at the magazine's Web site. Also, the articles on X, the Motels, and the Richard Hell were a harbinger of things to come. In its final years, Trouser Press would move away from covering British rock and become the top national source of information for American indie acts (which were then called "alternative" artists, a designation that connotes something different than the "alternative rock" genre that became popular in the 1990s).
This issue also has one of artist Pete Frame's "rock family trees." This one explores the roots of The Police. Since the artist's rendering was divided horizontally across two pages (34 and 35), it would not have worked to include an individual scan of each page, because the parts of the page where the magazine was stapled together would have been unreadable. What I did instead was to take the scans of pages 34 and 35 and edit them together into a single scan that can be easily read. Unfortunately, that left page 35 blank. So, to ensure the continuity of the page count, I put that scan in both pages 34 and 35, vertically and horizontally.
It's funny how time changes your perspective on things. When I first read this issue, the Go-Go's and the Motels were tearing up the record charts and I remember being excited to find in-depth articles about them. But all these years later, I'm more impressed with the fact that TP was covering Richard Hell and X when few others were giving these underground acts the time of day. The review section is also definitely worth reading, with coverage of albums by Joe Jackson, Bill Nelson, Steve Winwood, and Lords of the New Church. And the opening line of Jon Young's lead review of remix albums by The League Unlimited Orchestra and Soft Cell is classic. It still pops into my head whenever I come across any remix collection.
My only question is: What was the commercial music magazine Hit Parader thinking when they bought an ad in this issue? "Hey kids! If all this weird Trouser Press music like Woo is too much for you to handle, come on over to our side, where we have good old REO Speedwagon!" At the time, teens who liked alternative music like X defined themselves against bands like REO (who are pictured in the ad, at right), so this advertisement was unlikely to spark the interest of TP readers in either the mag or the artists it covered. That said, I'm glad Hit Parader bought the ad, because in doing so they helped keep Trouser Press alive. Had more businesses advertised, perhaps TP wouldn't have shuttered in mid-1984. As for Hit Parader, I will say that in the 35 years that have gone by, I've come to appreciate some of the mainstream music they covered in the 1980s. But not REO...except for maybe for that big hit they had in early 1985.
Other scanned issues of Trouser Press:
Trouser Press - Issue #09 (June-Aug. 1975)
Trouser Press - Issue #42 (Sept. 1979)
Trouser Press - Issue #44 (Nov. 1979)
Trouser Press - Issue #59 (Feb. 1981)
Trouser Press - Issue #63 (July 1981)
Trouser Press - Issue #67 (Nov. 1981)
Trouser Press - Issue #70 (Feb. 1982)
Trouser Press - Issue #71 (March 1982)
Trouser Press - Issue #72 (April 1982)
Trouser Press - Issue #84 (April 1983)
Trouser Press - Issue #85 (May 1983)
Trouser Press - Issue #92-93 (Dec. 1983-Jan. 1984)
Trouser Press - Issue #95 (March 1984)
1. Paul Carrack
2. Billy Idol
3. Richard Hell
4. Thomas Dolby
9. Police Tree
10. Rock On TV