Peter Laughner's Journalism

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Peter was a hell of a good writer. He actually made a bit of a living at it, particularly while engaged with CREEM magazine. Collected here is a selection of his work.

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Pete's Liner Notes for the first Hearthan single, "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" b/w "Heart of Darkness"

The big guy and myself had been huddled over bean soap and coffee long enough to watch two sets of customers come and go.  It wasn't even that we were hungry, and the food at the kettle doesn't disappoint you even if you are looking for nothing more than ballast; we just took our white worms, sipped his double cream coffee, brining it to his lips with pale, nubbed fingers that shook a little in the transit; he glanced around from time to time in a  way you wouldn't call nervous or expectant, but you could tell that there was something just under the surface waiting to find and outlet... in fact, if you let the big guy's attitude get to you, you were liable to feel like maybe he wasn't such good company... making you edgy... acting like maybe the next customer to walk in the door of the Kettle would be the cue to get up and walk out.  The big guy was facing the door, but I got this way of side-sitting in a booth that lets me keep a good view going if i want it, and all i was come in were two overweight cops, Magnums hanging off their hips, looking for nothing more than a hot meal and a couple of stools to drape their fat rears on.  They got their coffee and whatever while "Love will Keep Us Together" scratched out of the jukebox, and the big guy lit another Winston.  I swallowed some black coffee and give up on the bean soup...it just wasn't riding right on a gut full of Jim Beam and beer, but I felt as wide awake as seemed possible on an after-hours morning like this.  The big guy's nerves were infectious.. I was wired, all of a sudden, on some organize frequency that seemed to take hold of my motor responses and transmit "you are not fatigued but simply passive... use your muscles, your brain, your tissues NOW! MAKE A MOVE!  It was such a strong signal to my system that I reached for my wallet automatically, pulled out a five, and threw it on the table3, gesturing frantically for the big guy to follow me up and out, which he did.  The two cops at the co8unter didn't even notice as we moved through the door at a pretty good pace and hit the street, not speaking or acknowledging looks at all.  When we reached the car, it was lightly misted over with ice. We worked in silence, our breath misting, scraping the freeze-up from the windows with a plastic tool and the edge of a grade school ruler.  With a few sober belches the machine started, and we were headed east on 90, into a vaporous dawn.

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Pete's work for CREEM Magazine

Many thanks to ROBERT MATHEAU at CREEM for letting us have these on the Handsome pages.

HEY - THEY'RE RELAUNCHING THE MAGAZINE! Click on the emblem to go to their website.Anyway, Peter was a damn good writer, and his reviews contain many overt & subtle hints to how he heard music. Enjoy.

Peter Laughner's Letter to the Editor

Creem, April 1973

Dear CREEM: 

Where the hell *is* " Walled Lake, Michigan"?? I had a dream that I awoke from a terminal drunk on the floor of this strange room littered with album jackets and was greeted by a gorgeous redhead who told me, "Lester may not want you here, but you look o.k. I'll ask him when he gets back." (In the dream) I think, "Lester?" And then say "Where the hell am I?" She smiles warmly and says "Walled Lake Michigan." The rest of the dream involved horses. Anyway, subscribe me henceforth. Thank you, 

Peter Laughner 
East Cleveland, Ohio 

[That's about right. -- Ed.]

LOU REED LIVE

Peter Laughner, Creem, 6/75 

Lou Reed reminds me of Jack Kerouac near the end, dozing in an arm-chair with a beer, a flask of bourbon and a script for Obetrols, mumbling the same old stories at anyone within range, "Hey, ya wanna hear me make up a complete Shakespearean sonnet right outta my head?" 

Like Kerouac, Reed was mostly responsible for a movement that he didn't want much to do with. Kerouac in his Catholic guilt didn't want to be aligned with a whole generation of screwed-up young Americans. He claimed he wanted to write like Thomas Wolfe. Likewise Reed shied away from, and virtually spit on, the whole gay-flash-rock'n'roll-decadence scene; "Hey, why don't they listen to the ballads?" You can tell the guy would have really liked to be a poet, but the Sixties beat him to it. 

All of this and more has been kicked around at length in the pages of many a rock publication. It's a subject I call The Lou Reed Dilemma, or What Do We Do With A Wasted Artist Early In The Seventies. Finally you just want to throw your hands up in the air, quit looking at pictures of new hairstyles and listening to tired old con like "I was better'n Hendrix," and listen to the music. Which I guess is what Lou Reed Live is all about. You might not want to put it up against the third MGM Velvets LP, but... On Rock 'n' Roll Animal, which Live is simply an addendum to, Reed and his band Johnny Winterized four Velvet Underground classics. They sublimated the vocals to a sort of flashoid Saturday Night Les Paul Rave Rock, substituting manic "straight" lead playing and rhythm feel for the feedback-drone-power-chord menace of the original versions. A lot of people like Rock 'n' Roll Animal...a lot of kids who couldn't've cared less about the Velvet Underground, a lot of kids who picked up on Lou Reed because he was new and hip, and basically the same sort of people who make up the vast majority of the rock audience. People who could give a flying fuck whether something is approved by the Academy or whatever, as long as it does something to relieve the boredom, etc. that they're sunk in. As long as it sounds good at a party or on the eight-track. 

Lou Reed Live avoids the material that has become fixed in the Classic Tradition of Velvet Underground maniacs. There's more harmonically complex material from Transformer and Berlin which fares better on stage than in the studio. At least you've never heard it done with John Cale, so you don't miss him that much. 

"Vicious," the only hard rocker of the set, comes off as a cross between "Louie Louie" and the Allman Brothers. Prakash John sets up a bitchin' undertow on the bass, while Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner wail away with the kind of screaming standard licks they're best at. It's ironic that this entire band, except the keyboard player, now belongs to Alice Cooper, who Reed once called "the worst, most disgusting aspect of rock 'n' roll." 

The rest of it's OK. In "Satellite Of Love" we're reminded again that Reed is "just like everybody else" and likes to watch things on TV. "Oh Jim" starts to sound promising in the middle (at least there's no horn section), but finally just gets irritating when you realize that Hunter and Wagner must know every lick ever conceived on the Les Paul. 

The only real turkey is "Waiting For The Man." I just don't believe that people waiting to cop junk shuffle their feet to this kind of disco tripe beat. And the vocal totally avoids the hip aloofness that made the song so sleazy before. 

So there ya go...put it on, turn it up, pull another pop-top off. I'll bet the kids that take Elliott Murphy's Advanced Rock 101 at Harvard in '86 will think Lou Reed was pretty incredible. Maybe a couple of them can hitchhike down to Florida and visit him. "Hey kid, ya wanna hear some ballads?" 

Peter Laughner 1975

IF YOU CHOOSE, CHOOSE TO GO
LOU REED - CONEY ISLAND BABY

Peter Laughner, Creem, 3/76 

This album made me so morose and depressed when I got the advance copy that I stayed drunk for three days. I didn't go to work. I had a horrible physical fight with my wife over a stupid bottle of 10 mg. Valiums. (She threw an ashtray, a brick, and a five foot candelabra at me, but I got her down and sat on her chest and beat her head on the wooden floor.) I called up the editor of this magazine (on my bill) and did virtually nothing but cough up phlegm in an alcoholic stupor for three hours, wishing somewhere in the back of my deadened brain that he could give me a clue as to why I should like this record. I came on to my sister-in-law "C'mon over and gimme head while I'm passed out." I cadged drinks off anyone who would come near me or let me into their apartments. I ended up the whole debacle passing out stone cold after puking and pissing myself at a band rehearsal, had to be kicked awake by my lead singer, was driven home by my long-suffering best friend and force fed by his old lady who could still find it in the boundless reaches of her good heart to smile on my absolutely incorrigible state of dissolution...I willed her all of my wordly goods before dropping six Valiums (and three vitamin B complexes, so I must've figured to wake up, or at least at the autopsy they would say my liver was OK). Well, wake up I did, after sleeping sixteen hours, and guess what was running through my head, along with the visual images of flaming metropolises and sinking ocean liners foaming and exploding in vast whirling vortexes of salt water... 

"Watch out for Charlie's girl...
She'll turn ya in...doncha know... 
Ya gotta watch out for Charlie's girl..."

Which is supposed to be the single off Coney Island Baby and therefore may be a big hit if promoted right, 'cause it's at least as catchy as "Saturday Night"...if they can just get four cute teens to impersonate Lou Reed. 

Now, when I was younger, the Velvet Underground meant to me what the Stones, Dylan, etc. meant to thousands of other midwestern teen mutants. I was declared exempt from the literary curriculum of my upper class suburban high school simply because I showed the English department a list of books I'd glanced through while obsessively blasting White Light/White Heat on the headphones of my parents' stereo. All my papers were manic droolings about the parallels between Lou Reed's lyrics and whatever academia we were supposed to be analyzing in preparation for our passage into the halls of higher learning. "Sweet Jane" I compared with Alexander Pope, "Some Kinda Love" lined right up with T.S. Eliot's "Hollow Men"...plus I had a rock band and we played all these songs, fueled pharmaceutically by our bassist who worked as a delivery boy for a drugstore and ripped off an entire gallon jar full of Xmas trees and brown & clears. In this way I cleverly avoided all intellectual and creative responsibilities at the cleavage of the decades (I did read all the Delmore Schwartz I could steal from local libraries, because of that oblique reference on the 1st Velvets LP). After all, a person with an electric guitar and access to obscurities like "I saw my head laughing, rolling on the ground" had no need of creative credentials...there was the rail-thin, asthmatic editoress of our school poetry mag, there was the unhappily married English teacher who drove me home and elsewhere in her Corvette...there were others (the girl who began to get menstrual cramps in perfect time to the drums in "Sister Ray"). Who needed the promise of college and career? Lou Reed was my Woody Guthrie, and with enough amphetamine I would be the new Lou Reed! 

I left home. I wandered to the wrong coast. (Can you imagine trying to get people in Berkeley, California to listen to Loaded in 1971? Although maybe they all grew up and joined Earthquake...) When Lou's first solo album came out, I drove hundreds of miles to play it for ex-friends sequestered at small exclusive midwest colleges listening to the Dead and Miles Davis. Everyone from my high school band had gone on to sterling careers as psych majors, botanical or law students, or selling and drinking for IBM (Oh yeah except the drummer became a junkie and had a stroke and now he listens to Santana). All the girls I used to wow into bed with drugs and song married guys who were just like their brothers and moved to

Florida or Chicago, leaving their copies of Blonde on Blonde and White Light in some closet along with the reams of amphetamine driven poetry I'd forced on them over the years. By the time Metal Machine Music came out, I'd lost all contact. The only thing that saved me from total dissolution over the summer of '75 was hearing Television three nights in a row and seeing The Passenger. 

So all those people will probably never pay any attention to Coney Island Baby, and even if they did it wouldn't do much for what's left of their synapses. The damn thing starts out exactly like an Eagles record! And with the exception of "Charlie's Girl" which is mercifully short and to the point, it's a downhill slide. "My Best Friend" is a six year old Velvets outtake which used to sound fun when it was fast and Doug Yule sang lead. Here it dirges along at the same pace as "Lisa Says" but without the sexiness. You could sit and puzzle over the voiceovers on "Kicks" but you won't find much (isn't it cute, the sound of cocaine snorting, and is that an amyl popping in the left speaker?). Your headphones would be better utilized experiencing Patti Smith's brilliant triple-dubbed phantasmagoria on Horses. 

Side two starts off with the WORST thing Reed has ever done, this limp drone self-scam where he goes on about being "a gift to the women of this world" (in fact this whole LP reminds me of the junk you hear on the jukeboxes at those two-dollar-a-beer stewardess pickup bars on 1st Ave. above 70th). There's one pick up point, "Oo-ee Baby" with the only good line on the record "your old man was the best B&E man down on the street," but then this Ric Von Schmidt rip-off which doesn't do anything at all. 

Finally there's "Coney Island Baby." Just maudlin, dumb, self pity: "Can you believe I wann'd t'play football for th' coach"...Sure, Lou, when I was all uptight about being a fag in high school, I did too. Then it builds slightly, Danny Weiss tossing in a bunch of George Benson licks, into STILL MORE self pity about how it's tough in the city and the glory of Love will see you through. Maybe. Dragged out for six minutes. 

Here I sit, sober and perhaps even lucid, on the sort of winter's day that makes you realize a New Year is just around the corner and you've got very little to show for it, but if you are going to get anything done on this planet, you better pick it up with both hands and DO IT YOURSELF. But I got the nerve to say to my old hero, hey Lou, if you really mean that last line of "Coney Island Baby": "You know I'd give the whole thing up for you," then maybe you ought to do just that. 

August 1976
Peter Laughner 

Nelson Slater
Wild Angel

Peter Laughner, Creem, 9/76 

You wonder who the packaging of this record is aimed at. There's the "Produced by Lou Reed, Photography by Mick Rock" angle, which may be calculated to make 'em slaver in Manhattan, Kansas; White Plains, NY; Australia; or wherever the Bowie/Hoople/MainMan Axis a la late '72 still draws silver-lashed admirers. There's the cover photo. Can be looked at two ways: Ohio Players B&D (dey be cold blooded righteous nigguhs, so that's a possibility), or Tubes stroke-mag insensibility (Tubes being the Monkees of the 70s, just as Oui and Penthouse are the 16 & Tiger Beat of same..."Lookit our cute clits, dope and wee wees!" Then again, Nelson Slater is carefully pictured with a beard and blow dried hair, sort of a cross between Gino Vanelli and David Clayton-Thomas. God knows what that market be! 

Inside we find music and lyric spread smooth to go down smooth...more like the photo of Slater than the chained orgasmic cover girl. The title cut, "Wild Angel," may or may not be about You-Know-Who ("The most original person I know..."--recall how often Lou likes to

use that noun "person"), but no matter, because as the only hard rocker it's fairly mundane, despite the bass mix which bottoms out every speaker system I've tried it on (of you can't beat 'em, blow 'em). But pass on...through side one, half of side two. Slater's singing, while he may be attempting genuine emotion, just sort of sits in the grooves. It doesn't have any distinct tonal quality like total monotonesque guttural spew or the sort of sweet dog frequency nuances only Village Voice writers can detect) to set it apart from the music. Ditto for the playing and the arrangements. Horns. String synthesizer. Nice record so far. Could've been done by Richard Perry for a lot more money. 

But halfway through side two, here is where you come to the Eureka: a six-minute masterpiece with capital "M," called "We." As chillingly fatalistic and out-zoned as any piece of music I've heard since Nico's "It Was A Pleasure Then" on Chelsea Girl. (That song being one of the five most remarkable things ever committed to vinyl.) "We" establishes Slater's ability to write a compelling, dramatic, and if it be possible, emotional anti-emotional song. Not to elaborate to the point of giving it away...each listener will have to feel it for himself...but have you ever been trapped in that twilight zone of ennui, numbness and interpersonal impotence where you realized that while lights may shine through others' eyes, you and whoever you were trying to connect with could never..."We...built our nest in a falling tree/We...sold our lives to an enemy..." 

This cut also presents strong evidence in a case begun by Metal Machine Music that Louis Reed actually knows exactly what he is doing, at least for periods of time long enough to produce six minutes this monumental..."We" being obviously the only song on the record that Lou gave a damn about working on. It bears his signature strongly in the prominence of his voice over Slater's shoulder, "WE...sold our lives to an ENEMY!"...but most incredibly: lacking Bobby Hatfield, Bill Medley, a full orchestra and god knows what else, Lou has re-produced the power and glory of what he once called "the greatest record ever made," Phil Spector's "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." Of course emotionally and thematically, the two songs are as far apart as fire and ice. Slater is not about to get down on his knees. 

The last song on the side, "Complete This Story Now," seems intended to tie up a thread that you have to assume is supposed to run through the whole album. The thread is present only in the frozen angst of "We," where it manifests itself as a huge cord of fucked up tension that threatens to redline both your sensibilities and your sound system. But "Story" (great line: "defeat must take its bow...") shows a further glimmer of real promise for Nelson Slater as a songwriter. He won't need beards, bound women or even much vocal panache if he can deliver this kind of simple and touching lyric garnet. 

Look: in these troubled times, if you're the kind of person who finds only one or two minutes of worthwhile sound amidst the choking dross to be sufficient (I, for instance, own Jesse Winchester's last album solely on the basis of a three minute song), Nelson Slater's debut is far worth your while, unless RCA releases "We" b/w "Story" as a single. 

And that little guy from Brooklyn...y'know, he coulda been a producer... 

Peter Laughner 1976

The MODERN LOVERS

Peter Laughner, Creem, 8/76 

Velvets meets Stooges meets Doors meets boy next door. Who has this sinus condition. Tho not from nasty habits. Most of the reputed $12,000 dropped by Warner on John Cale to produce Modern Lovers demos must have gone up somebody's nose, but not Jonathan Richman's.) Good garage band production, especially for 1972, before people were supposed to be conscious of such things as true rock art (versus Bowie/Bob Ezrin ship-in-bottle tactics behind the board). Only one guitar solo...which makes one more than on the Ramones album, which is however more consciously dumb: vis-ŕ-vis the Ramones don't sing about Pablo Picasso or Cezanne or things being "bleak in the morning sun." Two great organ cops from "Sister Ray." I hear this keyboard player now works for Elliott Murphy, which I suppose is the 70s equivalent of going from David Blue's sideman to being Eric Anderson's. 

Jonathan Richman is nothing if not a Lou Reed protégé...apparently when the Velvets were sequestered in Boston's student ghetto in late '68, Jonathan found his guru in Lou. At least it wasn't Mel Lyman. I've heard that as soon as he could play stalk through the parks of Cambridge, declaiming his songs to anyone within earshot, yelling things like "I'm not a hippie! I'm not stoned!", Ellen Willis wrote about the Lovers in The New Yorker (for Chrissakes!) and described Jonathan as wearing a T-shirt with "I love my life!" scrawled in pencil across the front, dancing alone in front of a jukebox. Everybody's loser. Jonathan, like Lou, enjoys pointing fingers at girls who wear triangular glasses, but the difference is that Lou crawls after his princesses and then spits on them...Jonathan just crawls. And then writes songs like "She Cracked." 

Reminds me of a conversation I had with a 15-year-old on a bus in 1968. She had just gotten out of the psycho ward after kicking a meth habit. "All I could listen to was the Doors. It was like Jim Morrison could see inside my head better than any shrink...now I can't stand their records." She later picked up a mild junk habit, and once when presented with the opportunity to ball her my own meth use negated my abilities. I digress, although somewhere in the larger digression lies some justification for the kind of people who can scrawl "I love my life!" on their shirts and get written up in The New Yorker. 

Okay, the Modern Lovers album is good stuff. It's the album Transformer could have been (how important it is that we recall the dates). In a year that has brought us such dross as Station to Station, Coney Island Baby and The Eagles' Greatest Hits, you owe it to yourself to buy this record.

Peter Laughner 1976

Elvis
The Sun Sessions

Peter Laughner, Creem, 9/76 

Some fat slob in a gas station attendant's uniform returned this to the record store where I used to work, claiming it was "hillbilly shit, and that he wanted some ELVIS PRESLEY for him and the wife. We promptly steered him to the $1.99 bins, where he found a copy of Elvis Sings "Flaming Star." 

Actually, The Sun Sessions is rockabilly, a maniac strata of 50s po' white trash meets de darkies over a gallon of muscatel by no means confined to the sides on this LP (check out "Flying Saucers Rock'n'Roll" by Charlie Feathers next time you find one at a local garage sale...let's just say that if, like Charlie Feathers is to rockabilly what Burning Spear are to reggae, that makes Elvis on Sun Bob Marley...but, oh, forget it or you wouldn't be reading CREEM...). 

To say that Sun Sessions is "essential," "definitive," etc. is to add unnecessary overstatement to a glut of information already surrounding the subject. The damn liner notes to this set are reference point enough, if you've got your spy glass handy to cipher 'em. 

What does count is the happy fact that certain record companies are beginning to see the light in their vaults and go for a sophisticated, well presented series of re-issues aimed primarily at people who missed this stuff on the first, second, third or fourth go-round. (The Charlie Parker volumes on Dial come to mine, as do Blue Note's superlative "two-fer" packages. And a British label is apparently putting out Phil Spector's entire pre-Beatle catalog, in glorious MONO!) 

Sure, I've got a friend who's a 40s-50s R&B/Rockabilly fanatic, and can pull out three different copies of "That's All Right" on Sun, drool, and show you on a microscope how many times each one hasn't been played...but who needs that, right? All you really want to do is throw it on the box and ROCK! So here's the Real Thing, in sensible MONO LP form, SOLD ONLY IN STORES; NOT ON FUCKING TV! 

And...if you think Elvis is just some Fee Waybill imitator you big sister who lives in a trailer park with a gas station attendant likes to listen to on Friday nights over 7&7s...FORGET IT! This stuff is as raw, sappy, poisonous to the mind and just plain GOOD FUN as Kiss, Aerosmith or the Modern Lovers. It also being history (capital "H"), you can probably cull an English paper out of it (hell, just steal the liner notes, or refer to Peter Guralnick's chapter on Sam Phillips and the Sun Sound in "Feel Like Goin Home" [Fusion Books].) 

ELVIS--The Sun Sessions. Available wherever Real records are sold. 

Peter Laughner 1976

RORY GALLAGHER:
THE BEST NORMAL GUITAR PLAYER IN THE WORLD

Peter Laughner, Creem, 11/76 

It's an obvious joke that I'm writing this from a rather jaundiced point of view; obvious, that is, if you know that I ended up this four-day junket with Rory Gallagher & company lying in a hospital bed with hepatitis aggravated by heavy abuse of chemicals and spirits. But that's no fault of Rory's...though the liquor and stout flowed quite freely during the whole trip, nobody was exactly forcing a funnel down your intrepid reporter's throat, and if Rory Gallagher uses any chemicals, they probably come in bottles sealed by Bayer. I'm just gonna call this story like I saw it, remembering with some amusement how my toes curled up in a cringe when the Chrysalis representatives laid out quite graphically how they would never trust a story on one of their artists to a certain other writer who also happens to be my best friend and something of a mentor. Me, I just sat as cool as Dr. Thompson on the Tom Snyder show; my baggage had made it through customs..."Uh, 'scuse me, I gotta go back up to my room for a minute..." 

THURSDAY: Scratch Thursday, I guess, because Rory didn't show up due to work permit hassles--he was still in Canada. Also, because I spent the night as far away from the airport hotel as one could get by cab: first at CBGB's, in the lower intestines of Manhattan, where I got drunk (drunker, actually) with John Cale and found myself dancing to a band I didn't even like, with a chick in black leather who split my lip with her fist during one of our more intricately improvised courting rituals (OK, 'cause I got one of her dog chains off and whipped her with it). There's more, but suffice it to say that I blew my first rendezvous with my subject by taking a pre-dawn taxi back to the Sheraton La Guardia and laying comatose until 3 p.m. Shucks, and it was a free lunch at the St. Moritz... 

Which puts us halfway through Friday, up to my first meeting with Rory Gallagher. Immediate impression of a really good guy in the old sense: relaxed, friendly, diffident, cooperative with our ace photographer...the exact polar opposite of yours truly, who only through the graces of modern science and Smirnoff's was maintaining social attitudes. Rory even let me play some on his ancient, beautifully weathered Stratocaster (see cover of latest LP for guitar pic). Most rock guitarists, even on your local bar band level, throw squirm fits if you even go near their precious Les Pauls (let alone when you are visibly close to either nodding and dropping the axe to the floor, or grinning like an idiot and methodically pulling each string off while explaining concepts of atonality and absurd uselessness of unpleasant distractions like strings). Most rock guitarists have beasts referred to as "roadies," usually two-hundred-plus creatures who've exchanged bike colors for band T-shirts and sometimes enjoy snapping your arm at the elbow as you tentatively begin to lift the guitar from its case...but like I said, Rory's a nice guy. Even listened with some mixture of attentiveness and puzzlement while I dashed off several ineffectual runs. 

CUT TO LIMOUSINES: We are heading to Shea Stadium, not far from the hotel. It's raining. The sort of ugly yellow NY summer rain that can be depressing by itself, and makes the prospect of an outdoor concert about as attractive as a shower at Auschwitz. Rory seems very up about the show anyway. The tour is to be his first American exposure on big stages. Anybody who's followed Gallagher knows that his prime spot is in a small club, where he and the band can really cook over a set about two hours long, mixing acoustic bits on mandolin, steel-bodied guitar and harp with the punchy, solidly executed blues rock Rory's made a staple of. In fact, he's one of the few people who can still attack that supposedly embalmed genre with any life, the main reason I'm here, when I usually prefer listening to my Eno cassettes or getting drunk with John Cale. But tonight will be a forty-minute set, in front of a small crowd who're waiting, most likely for Robin Trower and (if it can be believed) Jethro Tull. Stadium concerts are the path to The Big Time...ask Aerosmith, ask the Beach Boys. Never mind that they're on short cut above "rock festivals" which are the absolute dumps...this ain't the summer of love. 

SHEA STADIUM: There is no press box. Only a damp dressing room somewhere below the bleachers with a refrigerator full of Guinness, a fifth of Jameson's Irish and a plate of cold cuts that looks absolutely botulin. Rory works on the Jameson's pretty steadily while changing strings and warming up with bassist Gerry McAvoy. A Chrysalis rep comes and goes nervously, sheltering his LA tan under a yellow rain slicker, and realizes that everybody is nervous...this is Shea Stadium after all...there are footprints in that muddy field out there. I confess that I spent the most part of Rory's set in the "press bar" which, for some stupid reason, neither faced nor had video viewers of the stage. I'd been introduced to Rory's cousin, a plain-looking man in his middle forties who'd grown up with the Gallagher family back in County Cork. He'd agreed with me after trying to see and hear two numbers from the soggy bleachers that Rory had been "much better at the Bottom Line," and the proverbial free lunch drew us up to the bar. 

"Rory probably won't remember this," he confides, "but once when he was just little--oh, about seven--I uncapped a bottle of soda pop and poured vinegar into it. You should've seen his face when he came in and took a long drink of that!" A touching anecdote, I think, and slowly through the mud and gathering fog in the brain it starts to come through to me that THERE MAY NOT BE MUCH OF A STORY HERE AT ALL BECAUSE RORY GALLAGHER IS VERY, VERY NORMAL. Sure, he plays the hell out of the guitar, he rocks down audiences everywhere he goes, he knows the blues line right down from Charlie Patton to Kokomo Arnold to Hound Dog Taylor, he even shares my appreciation of one of the great overlooked bluesmen of all time, John Hammond Jr. He knows JAZZ too; Coleman, pre-Coleman, post-Coltrane, even digs Cecil Taylor...uh...uh...and he's totally professional, with years of credentials and experience on the road to back it up. Example: backstage at Shea, he changed strings on his Stratocaster thirty minutes before showtime. Now anyone with a little guitar background knows that (a) This tends to cause out-of-tuneness that is hell to cope with, but (b) On a Strat, even with a locked bridge--no Hendrix twang-bar phalluses for Rory--the breakage of one string is enough to throw the whole guitar off about 3/4 of a step, and in non-musician patois that means it sounds like turtlepuke. However, Rory knows, as Hendrix knew, that a really good musician can actually get up and play a full set with his guitar completely out of tune. Django Rheinhardt knew this: he had an axe handmade by his gypsy godfather that NO ONE ELSE could play because no two positions on the thing were in tune with each other...and all the stuff for the first ten minutes of those Ravi Shankar sides you waited through for the Owsley to hit: that was just TUNING UP! 

ALL this great praiseful stuff is true about Rory Gallagher, including the quite human touch that I'm pretty sure he lost his Jameson's (although those could be fightin' words) after the show because he emerged from the water-closet with a mortuary pallor on his face, picked up the fifth and explained hoarsely, "This...has been the first meal I've had in two days," then slumped against the wall and was not heard from for the rest of the night. So his cousin drove me back to the hotel and we closed the bar to the tune of some Jamaican lounge act who didn't play reggae. By this time I was up to extra dry Bombay martinis, which should have been a sign to myself in the bar mirror that there was trouble due, but a little sign in the back of my head kept flashing "AMPHETAMINE" and I thought for a moment, "If Rory hasn't eaten in two days, maybe he's being just like Lou Reed whenever I'm around and bogarting all his speed or cocaine..." Then I glanced back at the smiling, if ever blurrier, countenance of his cousin, and realized nothing of the sort was going on. To bed. Goodnight. 

SATURDAY: Up early. Plane to catch. With a deathwish hangover I find myself stumbling around the lobby, packed and ready, first in line. And the goddamn bar is closed. The breakfast S-H-O-P-P-E was unspeakable. When I am hungover, I either want (a) Lots of Valium and more sleep; (b) More to drink, or (c) Something like anchovy paste on melba toast with steak tartare and two raw eggs drowned in Tabasco sauce. I found a pharmacy and washed down 30 mgs. of Valium with half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. One of Jethro Tull's roadies is sitting on the fake leather couches playing a Muddy Waters cassette at full blast. I try to settle into the low thump-thump-thump of the music, but two minutes after the desk clerk comes over and tells the guy to turn it down (it did conflict slightly with the Muzak), the entourage is pouring out of the elevators, all full of pep and ready to hit the skies to Toronto. 

EN ROUTE: Rory and I get to settle down and talk. They do serve beer on the plane, and Gallagher buys me one (I grabbed two, one of which I was still working on while passing through Canadian customs...nobody seemed to notice). What did we talk about? We talked musicians' talk; that peculiarly tired old rap that goes down whenever two guitar players with the same relative interest or background get thrown together. It's like shop talk...only the most dedicated groupie (a notable absence of that species on the whole trip) would stick around for more than ten minutes of bullshit about switch positions on Stratocasters, the relative merits of various age and species: Fender amplifiers, how many Ornette Coleman records A has that B doesn't and other related trivia, all of which was engrossing (at least to your reporter) but in the hour's worth of air time, nearly succeeded in putting the Chrysalis rep off to nodland. Believe me, it would you too, which is why I don't waste cassettes on talk like this. But I did find out that yes, Rory was "sort of" asked to join the Stones on Mick Taylor's departure (he went to Germany and did some playing with them); and no, the Stratocaster isn't one that used to belong to Buddy Holly, which is the most persistent Rory Gallagher story I've ever encountered. For the rest of this sort of thing, ask Alexis Korner next time you run into him; both he and Rory are equally great guys, but Alexis has been around since Christ last came to Newcastle and knows more good stories. 

HOTEL: Jesus, here we are in Toronto, Ontario, which must be one of the most sanitarily entertaining cities to walk the streets of in all the northern hemisphere, and this hotel is so big, so decked, and the rooms (and room service) so fine, that I just sit back with a cool Molson's, the air-con roaring, watching sailboats and tourist steamers float by on the blue bay under that sweet blue Canadian sky...but just as one gets into some heavy perusal of the menu (Beluga caviar...filet mignon...Perrier water to mix with Glen Grant's unblended malt scotch...) the phone rings over my cassette blasting the Stooges and it's Mr. Chrysalis and Concert Time. 

TORONTO EXHIBITION GROUNDS AND STADIUM: A horse of an altogether different shade; this is almost as nice as the hotel. Not only is there cold Molson's in abundance, there's not a cloud in the sky. A cool breeze is whipping around, but the sun is in that "I don't wanna go down" focus that always stokes a mid-summer Saturday night up with whatever passes for "good vibes" these days. In the house trailer-dressing room, Rory is jamming away, and really sounds hot. Everybody looks like the weather, the cold cuts are varied and quite edible, and you just know the concert is going to work. The bill tonight goes: Rory, Henry Gross (big hit about a dead dog), Derringer (ohmygodflashback: "This guy opened to the Stones at the second rock concert I ever saw, in '66!"), and Aerosmith (8-track cartridge mentality). Ah, normalcy. Tonight I am going to politely elbow my way up to the very front row of kids sitting on the protective tarp spread over the playing field, plop myself down, and really enjoy Rory Gallagher playing the paint off his Strat...I may even stick around for Derringer, y'know, for old time's sake, although during Henry Gross' set I think I'm going to find that fifth of Jack Daniels and check out the cassette Talking Heads gave me way back in the jungle. 

Looking over the audience, they seem so calm (there's an estimated 55,000 of 'em). Canada always hits me this way--the people, the architecture, the TV shows (the idea of the Olympics, even). Normalcy. Completely outside the stench of American grease, NYC speedsweat and hustle, LA amylnitrate fistfucks, Cleveland tuinol consciousness. These kids in Toronto are going to BOOGIE NORMALLY. I'm in a foreign country, humming to myself; I don't need a press box. Just a pair of shades and a beer and I can walk OUT THERE without fear of getting trampled, knifed, dosed with horse tranquilizer...a big good-vibes grin starts to spread over the face. I'm grinning at Lou Martin, the keyboard player, at Rod de'Ath, drummer, at Gerry McAvoy, the bass player, and at Rory Gallagher, as we pass the Jack Daniels bottle... 

A REVIEW: Whaddaya want, a review? Rory got a standing ovation just for walking onstage. Aerosmith didn't get one when they went on. The P.A. system was as crisp of the air. Rory closed with "Souped Up Ford" from his latest LP Against The Grain, a pure hotrod bottleneck raver that owes a lot to Little Feat's "Tripe Face Boogie," and he got another standing ovation. Derringer sounded better with the McCoys, but then again, I wasn't waiting for the Stones in Toronto. Or Aerosmith either. 

Back to the hotel lounge, where we swapped Jerry Lee Lewis stories and many more drinks. The girl at the piano must have felt really appreciated that night. She didn't know "Mr. Tambourine Man," but we applauded the hell out of everything else she oozed out. Rory showed me some really arcane Gaelic guitar tunings, for which I tried to swap him the secret Holy Modal Rounders' tuning and positioning for "My Mind Capsized" but I think you have to be a speedfreak to appreciate the peculiar warped beauty of that piece. Then we closed the night with a normal hamburger in the normal coffee shop (no "e" on the end). 

So the junket was almost over. Sunday, waking up, my body was beginning to give off advance warning signals, which I ignored. Instead of confirming my flight back to Cleveland (home base), I perversely changed the reservation to go to Detroit, for a night on the town with that "certain other writer." If you're going to burn the candle at both ends, use a blowtorch in the middle. Two days later I was in the hospital. Detroit and the hospital...that's another story. Who do I think I am, Louis-Ferdinand Celine? 

WE LEAVE YOU: Poolside at the luxury hotel, Molson's still in our hands (Sunday afternoon in Canada you also have to get a "sandwich" with each drink...the food looked like Hohner blues-harps made out of bread and chicken salad. Rory played quite an impressive solo on one); we are doing that most normal of things: swapping Polack Jokes (these are apparently as indigenous to the UK as to Cleveland): Q: "If a nigger and a Polack fall out of an airplane at the first time, who hits the ground first? A: "Who cares?" But I cracked 'em up with one I got from Lou Reed ('cept he tells them because he really hates Poles): "Didja hear the one about the Polish ballerina who did the splits and stuck to the floor?" 

My parting shot to the best Normal Guitar Player around was cut short by the call for my airport limo, but here it is. I got it from John Cale. Seems there was this Irishman who got a pair of water skis for Christmas. He spent all the next year looking for a lake with a slope. 

1976 Peter Laughner

Television Proves It
Television
Marquee Moon

Peter Laughner, Creem, 5/77 

Like, what's worth keeping in music is the kinda thing like anybody, even from anoher time or say, another dimension, could get even pieces out of. Some of Dylan's stuff maybe, a lot of that horn player, Albert Ayler. That's got that, ya know? --Tom Verlaine 

I'm writing this from my hometown--Cleveland, Ohio. The biggest "progressive" FM station, a station renowned as a big breaking point for new events in rock music, once played Television's Marquee Moon. They don't know what to do with it; something from their preconceptions keeps whispering "New York...punk rock." But what's actually going on here cuts far above and through such labels. Sure, Television lives and plays in New York. Simple geography. Expand that to "urban" and you can include Portland, Memphis, Houston, Washington, L.A., New Orleans, Minneapolis...as for "punk rock," it's a term that we coined stillborn. To me it means nothing. If it's supposed to mean rock music played with deliberate lack of finesse and intelligence, then it means less than nothing when applied to Television. 

Musically speaking, Billy Ficca is a match for any percussionist working in any field today (including his idol, Tony Williams); Fred Smith, on bass, knows just what not to play and where--he never misses a tone; Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine make veritable celebrations of the Fender guitar: technique, emotion, thought and pure sound ringing out of Stratocasters and Telecasters, jazz masters. Even the obscure .22 Magnum Derringer of the pre-CBS line, the Duo-Sonic. Without modification between guitar and amp, chords haven't chimed so wild since the Byrds, or maybe Love's first album, or ripped and bitten since the Velvets were on Verve. And the lead lines--sometimes angular and unpredictable, yet always conceptually logical. What was Verlaine saying about Albert Ayler? 

The album kicks off with "See No Evil," what I would have to describe as a neo-Velvets riff. Verlaine gets in some droll, yet purposeful word play--"What I want/I Want NOW/And it's a whole lot more/than 'anyhow'..." Fred Smith and Billy Ficca pound out a bottom that rolls and flows more than simply rocks. Lloyd rips out leads that sound almost like good old conventional...but it's a wholelotmorethan "anyhow." It's pretty damn frenetic, especially at the end, where what sounds like about 25 overdubbed Verlaines start screaming "Pull down the future with the one you love" and awholelotmore that I don't think made it to the lyric sheet. 

Then into the arms of the "Venus di Milo." Now I have ideas, glimpses if you will, of what these songs are "about," but like a good mystery, a giveaway only serves to deaden the scope of the work. I will say that "Venus" has a lot to do with space, but not the kind of space thought of in terms of stars or satellites; more like McGuinn's "5D" and the immediate impact of the song musically does seem to be Byrds-like, yet by the chorus then the guitar solo underscored by gorgeously profound-but-dizzy drum rolling, "Venus" becomes totally Television from there on out. You might hear traces of the Stones' "Moonlight Mile" and "Guiding Light," but Verlaine's head is full of much more than snow. Someone has remarked to me that the fade of "Torn Curtain" might owe something to the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"; I doubt it, although I wonder if Verlaine's title was inspired by Hitchcock's film or, for that matter, "Prove It" by psycho-dramatic light fantastic readings of Raymond Chandler, or "Elevation" by the theories and practices of a certain now deceased band from Austin, Texas. Use these as handles, if you wish. 

It's been said that to fully grasp what Television's all about, you must see them live. This is probably more or less true for any band (or at least should be), but in Television's case it does seem to bear more strongly. Physically, they never present so much an image (read fixed, understood stance) as a presence; a sort of mirror to the possibilities that the listener/watcher feels up to facing. Like Lou Reed said, "Oh, I do believe/You are what you perceive." I myself recall hearing Television for the first time (April '75 at CBGB's). I had come to hear Patti Smith who, at the time, had neither a drummer nor a record contract. A year before, Smith had written what I believe remains the definitive piece on Television for Rock Scene and I felt it important to stick around for Television's second set after Patti's first, which was magnificent.

Sure enough, I was transported. Where Smith's music had been too tight to the point, Television were loose, loud, daring. It was like hearing rock'n'roll for the first time. I couldn't understand a single word of Verlaine's strangled vocals but the feelings came on like razors and methedrine. His singing voice has this marvelous quality of slurring all dictions into what becomes distortions of actual lines, so that without a lyric sheet you can come away with a whole other song...which means you're doing one third of the work. I went around for a whole year singing what I thought was the opening line of "Venus"--"twisted sick with night of sweet surprise," when the actual lyric is "tight toy night/streets were so bright." 

Marquee Moon is an album like a memory of a thing that has never been before. It's like everything that makes Television the most unique band playing in America today. Television suggests auras, edges, images of things when they play. There is a direct visceral hit (no mistake that Verlaine used Andy Johns as co-producer), but every time I hear this group there is a shadow cast further from the moment that seems to imply an infinity of moments, of further shadows. 

Television takes experience and abstracts it, not to the point of obscurity, but to the point of suggestion, that it not be Verlaine's experience per se, but exists on its own, of itself without prior awareness of form. Like rock'n'roll, like its art, it's simply a frame that we put around a magical process. Whether that be the movement of a switch on a Fender or slurring of a word that does things like dig holes in silence, it's the kind of thing anybody, even from another time or dimension, could get pieces out of. 

Verlaine has created a poetry which is indeed his alone, a poetry of inspiration at once childlike and subtle, entirely of nuances, evocative of the most delicate vibrations of the nerves, the most fugitive echoes of the heart...and I stole that whole last bit from a funeral oration delivered back in 1896 over the grave of the guy Tom V. stole his name from. One of the truly gifted poets of the 20th century, Delmore Schwartz, said, "In dreams begin responsibilities."

Well, he could have been speaking about this group and about this record. You take it from here. 

Peter Laughner 1977

Rock-a-Rama/shorts
Peter Laughner, Creem 

6/75 

JOHN LENNON - Rock 'n' Roll (Apple) :: At least Nillson's version of "Crazy Little Mama" had some humor in it. Who can we trust with this kind of album? Maybe nobody. Lennon also goes Bette Midler one better by trying to out-disco "Do You Wanna Dance." Phil Spector should be made to wear earphones. 

JAY GATSBY - The Most Wasted Boy Alive (Arista) :: This kid is so much more wasted than even David Werner that the disc hangs limp when removed from the cardboard. Those who missed his last, a concept album on ESP about the death of Jean Harlow, should be sure to miss this gem. The title cut and "Mutant Spew" make up for the orchestral excesses. Who Needs Pierre LaRouche Anyway? 

DAVID BOWIE - The Man Who Sold The World (RCA or Mercury) :: Twenty points if you've got a copy of this on Mercury that doesn't have a hole punched in the jacket. Fifty points if you've got a copy with a picture of Bowie playing solitaire in a dress. Minus thirty if you paid for a copy of Young Americans. Ain't games fun? ROXY MUSIC - Country Life (Atco) :: No fault of Roxy's that the company has destroyed their cover concept, but who do we blame for the inclusion of a lyric sheet? I was told that I'd fully believe in Bryan Ferry's "seriousness" once I'd seen him live, which I did, and I still don't. Without synthesizer, sax and Manzanera, there would be little if anything to interest an audience, 'cause face it, the guy not only can't sing so hot, he's not even a very interesting stylist, and his attempt to establish a persona has persisted to the point of irritation. If the records don't sell he can always become the new P.J. Proby. 

8/75 

ELLIOTT MURPHY - Lost Generation (RCA) :: The reasons why I play the hell out of Murphy's first LP but gave this one back to the distributor are probably clear to Robert Christgau; however I suspect that it's the same ones that have kept me from listening to a song on the first called "Marilyn" all the way through. "Thinkin' about Brian Jones" today, huh, Elliott? 

THE DICTATORS - Go Girl Crazy! (Epic) :: I ran into these guys, along with what's left of the Dolls, at CBGB in NY a couple weeks ago. Dictators get more points for Better Acne, Better Beer Guts, General Sports Knowledge ("Hey, yur a wriddah! Ya know Meltzer? Lives in my neighborhood. He's a card, dat Meltzer!") and General Rocksacrucian attitude. We all know they will be the critics' darlings, but there's something about lines like "Eddy threw up in my car/If he does it anymore/We'll make him eat it off the floor!" that transcends critique. Sorely needed in the hearts and minds of Our Nation's Troubled Youth. 

TELEVISION - Live Performance at CBGB, New York City :: No, they don't have a record out yet, and they'll probably be hard to translate fully onto vinyl (records don't have eyes like Tom Verlaine), but these people play with the tactile intensity of those who've looked hard and long at things they could never have. "Fire Engine" and "Breaking In My Heart" are as good as anything the Velvet Underground ever cut, and since it's 1975, maybe much better. You got to watch. 

9/75 

SARAH KERNOCHAN - Beat Around the Bush (RCA) :: Maybe because I've only met one other person who can stand this woman's lyrics, but give me this over Carly Simon on a desert island any day. At least there'd be something to talk about. 

Sleeper Of The Month 2/76 Television Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 and 2) Limited Edition 45 rpm Ork Records. Live, in person, where your eyes and your groin and your undercover Sigmund Freud connections to the realistics of rock 'n roll can all be engaged at once, Television put out the kind of energy and mania that must have permeated the Marquee Club on Who nights circa 66. Trying to describe TV in print has sent rock-print luminaries like James Wolcott & Lisa Robinson scurrying to their thesauruses for words like "dissolute" and "chiarascuro." Trying to play with each other has caused Tom Verlaine and his various partners (one of whom for a week was me) all kinds of hypertense fall-down-the-stairs scenes but brother, IT WILL STAND! 

This is the best band in America right now, it's like a subway ride thru a pinball game, like coming and puking at the same time, and they don't sound like the Velvets and they don't sound like Stooges, THEY DON'T EVEN SOUND LIKE NEW YORK BANDS ARE THOUGHT TO SOUND...and problematically enough, they don't sound AT ALL like this single. But you should buy it, the least of reasons being that someday you will have it to show to yourself and your friends and say "See..." 

3/76 

PATTI SMITH GROUP - "My Generation" (Arista) (45 rpm) :: The "A" side, "Gloria," you've heard; it's "Generation" (recorded live in Cleveland, Ohio with John Cale on bass) that you'll want to own this for. The band is loose, even sloppy--Patti is so stoned she can't even remember the third verse, Cale is so drunk that the bass solo sounds like an eighth-grader attempting Entwistle...the obscenities, the fumbled ending (I was there, they had to drag Cale off by his feet before he could destroy any more equipment), the audience's audible confusion, all add up to one monster 3:16 of rock 'n' roll. Peter Townshend might not approve, but he might learn a lesson (Patti Smith turned 30 in December). 

5/76 

ERIC CARMEN (Arista) :: Tony Williams once said that he and his group Lifetime made music for people who got into the sounds of their refrigerators turning on and off. Eric Carmen makes music for people who get into their regrigerators and find them stocked with lots of the "right" things (fondue, for instance, or filet of sole and the wine that the Guide to such things described as "perfect for that special evening"). That Carmen has been hailed as being in the same caliber as Brian Wilson is like mentioning Rod McKuen and John Berryman as comparable poets. It has, and will be said again, that Eric's record is every bit as useless as Barry Manilow and his ilk; what's worse is that Eric doesn't rock at all, he could write a truly bright pop song if you gave him all the cocaine in Barry White's suitcase, and I come from his hometown and know for a fact that his mother still comes over to scrub out his apartment. The final touch is that a reputed sixteen grand was dropped by Arista for those glucose strings that coat this whole waste of time...and one should consider what Cecil Taylor might be able to create with even a third of that money. 

ROXY MUSIC - Siren (Atco) :: Oh, hell, I admit it, these guys can be appealing and exciting even WITHOUT Eno..."Love Is The Drug" not only makes the best foot-to-the-floorboards cruiser to hit AM in years, it even makes me want to startt hanging out in singles bars. (But only them that gots...you just KNOW that's the sound of an XKE Jag revving at the start). But please, guys, next time MORE McKay and Manzanera... 

10/76 

PAUL BLEY AND NEIL-HENNING ORSTED PETERSON - NHOP (Steeple Chase Records) Import :: The thinking man's Keith Jarrett. Bley can control more ideas out of silence than any pianist since Thelonious Monk, yet his approach is much more fluid and the dissonances work almost as echoes of possible unheard tunes. Since Monk hasn't cut a record in years, one would be well advised to seek this out, even at the import price. 

2/77 

LOU REED - Rock 'n' Roll Heart (Arista) :: Dear Lou, Honest to god, I played this album at least 46 times ALL THE WAY THROUGH, listened to it in every possible condition I could put myself into, went to see the "show" with the 40-odd video screens wanking behind you got a bottle lofted at me from the balcony there, too, so had to be taking some chances), have only been drunk twice and filled my Valium script once since it came out, quit seeing my shrink, got a steady job...blah blah blah. All I can say is: your LP IS LESS TEDIOUS than Stevie Wonder's latest, but that's like saying Novocaine is more effective than Procaine...I don't feel anything. I find it as painless and boring as modern dentistry. Two questions: 1)Where did you hide the guitars? 2) What in the name of modern science is a "Rock 'n' Roll Heart"?

Sincerely, P.L. 

STEVIE WONDER - Songs In the Key of Life (Tamla) :: Was it worth the wait? No. Why? Listen to Greatest Hits. Hell, you can even put on Talking Book for the 8 millionth time. I'm gonna listen to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers with headphones. G'night. 

JOHNNY COUGAR (MCA) :: File under "Your Pretty Face Is Goin' To Hell (In Somebody Else's Sled)." 

ELTON JOHN - Blue Moves (MCA) :: Same review as Little Stevie's latest, only skip the Greatest Hits part...I don't even like the brand of Scotch this guy drinks, and I'm STILL gonna listen to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers before I crash. 

RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON - Pour Down Like Silver (Island) :: If you're sad that the Byrds broke up, and that the Band are about to, hang on to your heart. If you've never heard this Thompson character (hint: he was a founder and lead guitarist for Fairport Convention), you're going to be clawing the walls of your local import shop for MORE. Island Records, with its usual display of true finesse when handling artists that don't hail from Trench-town, has already cut this beauty out, although it was only released Stateside THIS SPRING. Why? Any LP Thompson has been associated with is well worth import price, but you can still find Silver for $2, so LOOK. Good luck getting the one on Reprise, though...heh...heh... 

3/77 

PATTI SMITH - Radio Ethiopia (Arista) :: Horses was almost too skeletal; Ethiopia is almost too meaty. I personally have never listened to an Aerosmith album beyond a few bars, but this guy Jack Douglas sure knows how to get a drum sound. Too bad Patti gets treated like another instrument in the mix...is that why she nearly delivers a lyric sheet with this LP? Picturing Harry Crosby's opium-pipe could be looked at either as a departure (from Crosby's self-destruct coy posturing), or as an indulgence (in the worst sense of Crosby's "legacy"). Given the 14-odd minutes of "Ethiopia/Abyssinia," the latter would seem to be the sad fact...redeemed, with too-brief glory, by the all-out BLAST of the rockers that lead off sides one and two; nothing has kicked me in the teeth so hard since "Search and Destroy." Patti's got the notion and the capability (and the band) to draw blood from stones; when she takes full rein of it, you're gonna swim or drown, believe me. Maybe third time out. 

CHARLES BUKOWSKI - Poems & Insults! (City Lights) :: In which the greatest living American writer gets drunk, in front of an enthusiastic audience. Sort of a disappointment if you've read his stuff and mythologized the guy to the degree that is possible, but it's a good illustration of how this country (and especially its young people) try to literally EAT the artist alive. In Buk's case, he's already dispensed with the possibility. Available from your local bookstore. 

Peter Laughner

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* * *

Peter Laughner's famous interview with Punk Magazine

Peter once playfully (but seriously, as was his way) submitted an essay to the famous PUNK magazine. He created it out of whole cloth, and won SECOND PRIZE, which, for the record, was a free subscription and having the stuff printed in the mag. (We think it was the second issue.) Here 'tis, good for a laugh, but prescient....

Describe “Punk” in 20 words :  

Punk is knowing that you’re gonna die and not caring. OR: Punk is your gonna die, so who gives a shit?

Are you a PUNK?

No – ‘cause I know the above but occasionally I fall in love enough to give a shit – although it prob’ly reduces to the same equation.

Your fave?  

The new song my band wrote tonite – “Everything I Say Just Goes Right Thru Her Heart.” Other than that, TELEVISION are fuckin’ great.

Your favorite stars?

One, Tom Verlaine. Two, John Cale – Drunk as a skunk! And Welsh, too! Three, Patti Smith – Despite the hype – She can sit on my face any time she wants.

Fave mag?

CREEM when they put out an issue with some MEAT in it – PUNK could be it, but can’t say on strength of only one ish – for straight shit, ESQUIRE.

Fave high?  

PURE METH, MAINLINE/Cocaine that’s only been stepped on twice/Beer & Cognac.

Fave TV show?

Television live at CBGB’s.

Who or what was:  

WOODSTOCK – Half a million assholes who didn’t know enough to come in outa the rain. (Paul Morrissey said that.)

JAMES DEAN – Interesting persona now mythified beyond emulation, like, it’s been DONE.

STONES – “Out of Our Heads” is one of the 5 best R ‘n R LP’s ever made – Brian Jones is mixed so fuckin’ back you KNOW he was prob’ly the best rhythm guitarist in the world.

ALICE COOPER – Hollywood Horseshit for Housetrailer Heads.

CAMP RUNAMUCK – Jack-off school for youngsters.

THE CURVOIR – Do you mean curvosier?

SPUTNIK – International satellite – I wanted to be on it at age 4.

ETIQUETTE – Don’t burn anybody who packs heat.

EDDIE HASKELL – Before I could eat, I watched it.

Are you a rock star?

YES! Can play maniac guitar better than Richard Lloyd or Ron Ashton, sing like Dylan with a cattle prod up his ass, make “Metal Machine Music” with only ONE amp, and look like nobody else so I’m original – Buncha other reasons but who wants to be verbose?

Your favorite part of PUNK?  

Panel of Louis R. as E.C. Comic Skeleton (ish #1). 2 nd fave: McNeil trying to pick up tough chick.

Do you work?

Freelance wordmonger for CREEM, play in bands – PERE UBU – Some times sell records.

Are you the PUNKiest punk?  

I’m punkier than most ‘cause I can puke, pass out for ten minutes, then come up and pray for a perfect set or screw the ass off somebody – Also talk good.

Do you smoke cigarettes?  

No, never got the habit. Pot makes me nervous.

In school?  

No, high school grad (barely).

Fave beer?

Busch, Grolsch lager (import).

Own leather?  

Only six (one brown) – Definitely indicate deviant personalities, even done to death.

Good meal out?  

One, PATTI SMITH. Two, Katz’s Deli on Sunday AM with hangover & Tina Weymouth.

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A Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Peter