About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Friday, April 29, 2016

WORKIN' IN A GOLDMINE: My Life as a GOLDMINE Freelancer 1986-2006

One weekend in March of 2014, my This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio co-host Dana Bonn took a Sunday off, leaving me with three hours to fill.  I decided to turn the whole three hours over to a celebration of the nearly 20 years I spent freelancing for Goldmine magazine.  Good times!

I was a freelance writer for Goldmine magazine for 19 years, from my first pair of record reviews published in the fall of 1986 to my final article in the issue cover dated 1/6/06.  I was one of a large group of freelance contributors to the magazine during that period, never quite a regular, but still something of a frequent byline in those pages.  It was not a particularly well-paying gig, nor was I ever prolific enough to make more of it...

...But I LOVED writing for Goldmine!  The first 10 to maybe 12 years that I did it were a terrific time.  I had a good working relationship with then-editor Jeff Tamarkin, and it provided an unbelievable opportunity for me to just write about pop music.  I interviewed The Ramones, Joan Jett, Cyril Jordan of The Flamin' Groovies, Ron Dante of The Archies, Lou Whitney of The Skeletons, Greg Kihn, Ben Vaughn, Jeff Murphy of Shoes, Greg Shaw, etc., etc., etc.; I put together long, sprawling histories of power pop and bubblegum music, both of which have since been reprised in book anthologies (Shake Some Action and Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, respectively); my long interview with The Ramones--which I'm currently re-working into book form--was cited as Essential Reading on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's website; I did features on indie labels (Blue Wave, Bar/None and Razor & Tie), on The Bay City Rollers, KISS, The Ugly Ducklings, the 200 definitive albums of the '70s, stocking the definitive rock 'n' roll jukebox, Batman records, Beatles fiction, essential DVDs, cool covers, one-hit wonders, and I even somehow convinced Jeff to run my liner notes for The Flashcubes' first album as an article in GM (I told him it would be like, y'know, giving me a tip, which was much easier than giving me a raise).

[The kicker to that Flashcubes piece came years later, when I heard that Flashcubes guitarist Paul Armstrong went backstage at a show to meet former members of The MC5; when he introduced himself as a member of The Flashcubes, one of the MC5 guys replied, "Flashcubes...?  Yeah, I read about you in Goldmine!"  SCORE...!]

And I wrote TONS of reviews, which gave me a chance to write about The Kinks, The Sex Pistols, Arthur Alexander, Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Catholic Girls, The Knickerbockers, The Dave Clark Five, Artful Dodger, The Lyres, The Muffs, Angelic Upstarts, Comsat Angels, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Graham Parker, The Adicts, The Dead Boys, Walter Clevenger, Blondie, The Mockers, The B-52's, The Cynics, Shane Faubert, The New Colony Six, Shaun Cassidy, Johnny Thunders, DMZ, Cockeyed Ghost, The Turtles, Chris von Sneidern, The Standells, Shonen Knife, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, The Bobby Fuller Four, The Fleshtones, Red Rockers, Dwight Twilley, Segarini, The Sighs, Material Issue, The Troggs, The Yardbirds, The Move, Wire Train, The Kennedys, The Tell-Tale Hearts, David Johansen, The Phenomenal Cats, The Poptarts, The Grass Roots, The Dickies, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Mott the Hoople, The New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro, The Knack, Freddie & the Dreamers, The Crawdaddys, The Syndicate of Sound, Gary Glitter, Talking Heads, The Pretty Things, The Long Ryders, The Rascals, Paul Collins, The Swinging Blue Jeans, AC/DC, Blotto, The Clash, The Monkees, The Monkees, The Monkees--I wrote a LOT about The Monkees!  And that's not even a partial list.  It felt like I reviewed every tribute album, pop compilation or garage retrospective under the sun.  I received fan mail, I received hate mail, and I even got the occasional thank-you note from a performer.  It was all just so, so much FUN.

And then...it became less fun.  Things were never quite the same for Goldmine and me after Jeff Tamarkin left in the late '90s, though I had no quarrel with any of his successors, and I kept pluggin' away in relative peace; but the magazine market was changing, and Goldmine was changing with it.  As page counts dropped, my above-mentioned "long, sprawling histories" were no longer possible.  And record reviews now required a razzafrazzin' letter grade, and I had no interest in doing that.  By 2006, it was time to move on. 

But I recall that whole experience with great, great fondness.  Since Dana was off this week on yet another secret mission to save the world, this week's TIRnRR offered a chance to look back on my Goldmine years with a little something called WORKIN' IN A GOLDMINE--My Life As A Goldmine Freelancer 1986-2006.  We began with selections from the first two records I ever reviewed for Goldmine, then loudly and proudly worked our way through tracks representing all but two of my GM feature articles over the years (sorry, Barry Mann and Stars On 45!).  The rest of the show was devoted exclusively to playing a bunch o' tunes from a few of the many records I reviewed during those happy years.  Then and now, the feeling remains familiar:  always keep playing great records, always stay in pursuit of that buzz, that sheer, transcendent joy that only comes from sharing your favorite records with pals and passers-by.  That was why I wrote for Goldmine for all that time, and it remains why Dana & I still do whatever it is we do on TIRnRR every week. I hope listening to it all now provides you some hint of what a blast I had when I was workin' in a Goldmine.  And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org.

TIRnRR # 718:  3/30/14  WORKIN' IN A GOLDMINE--My Life As A Goldmine Freelancer 1986-2006

THE CHESTERFIELD KINGS:  "It's Alright" (Mirror, Stop!) [rejected review, 1986]
GREEN:  "She's Not A Little Girl" (Gang Green, Green) [BEASTS OF THE EAST compilation review, 11/21/86]
DOCTOR & THE MEDICS:  "Barbara Can't Dance" (Eastworld, Laughing At The Pieces) [record review, 11/21/86]
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Wouldn't You Like It" (Arista, The Definitive Collection) ["Rollermania:  A Hard D-A-Y's Night" 9/25/87]
TONI BASIL:  "I'm 28" (Rhino, VA:  One Kiss Can Lead To Another) [One Hit Wonders spotlight, 12/30/88]
THE UGLY DUCKLINGS:  "Nothin'" (Freeway, Ducktales) ["Somewhere Outside" 6/30/89]
KISS:  "Shout It Out Loud" (Mercury, Destroyer) ["Gods Of Thunder" 6/29/90]
THE BEATLES:  "Paperback Writer" (Apple, Past Masters) ["Beatle Fiction" 11/15/91]
THE MONKEES:  "Heart And Soul" (Rhino, Pool It!) ["Here They Come--Again!"  12/27/91]
DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: "You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Don't You Remember)" (Capitol, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart) ["The Guys Who Wrote 'em & The Guys Who Sang 'Em" 12/27/91]
FRANK GORSHIN:  "The Riddler" (Varese Sarabande, VA:  Batmania) ["Rockin' In Gotham City:  Batman's Greatest Hits" 5/1/92]
THE FLAMIN' GROOVIES:  "I Can't Hide" (Rhino, At Full Speed) ["Red-Hot And Groovy" 1/8/93]
THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY:  "Somebody Wants To Love You" (Razor & Tie, The Partridge Family Album) [Indie Label Spotlight:  Razor & Tie 9/17/93]
KATE JACOBS:  "Now They're Here" (Bar/None, The Calm Comes After) [Indie Label Spotlight:  Bar/None  3/18/94]
BIG STAR:  "Back Of A Car" (Ardent, # 1 Record/Radio City) ["The 200 Definitive Albums Of The '70s, Or He Who Forgets The Past Is Condemned To Wear Leisure Suits" 6/10/94]
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS:  "Light Of Day" (Blackheart, Fit To Be Tied) ["Purely, Simply Joan Jett" 8/19/94]
THE RAMONES:  "Rockaway Beach" (Sire, It's Alive!) ["The Few, The Proud, The Ramones" 9/30/94]
BEN VAUGHN:  "Sundown Sundown" (Bar/None, Mono USA) ["The Man Who Has Everything" 3/17/95]
CUB KODA:  "Welcome To My Job" (Blue Wave, Welcome To My Job) [Indie Label Spotlight:  Blue Wave 5/12/95]
THE WHO:  "The Kids Are Alright" (MCA, My Generation) ["The Kids Are Alright!  The History Of Power Pop" 1/5/96]
THE FLASHCUBES:  "No Promise" (Northside, Bright Lights) ("Bright Lights, Small City" 1/5/96]
THE GREG KIHN BAND:  "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" (Rhino, Kihnsolidation) ["Rekihnsidered" 1/5/96]
THE ARCHIES:  "Jingle Jangle" (Fuel 2000, Absolutely The Best Of The Archies) ["An Informal History Of Bubblegum Music" 4/25/97]
ELVIS PRESLEY:  "Jailhouse Rock" (RCA, The Top Ten Hits) ["DVD Killed The Video Star:  25 Essential Rock 'n' Roll DVDS" 1/1/99]
WILSON PICKETT:  "Sugar, Sugar" (Rhino, A Man And A Half) ["25 Worthy Covers" 9/6/02]
THE SKELETONS:  "Trans Am" (ESD, In The Flesh!) ["Fire In The Bones" 10/29/04]
THE KINGSMEN:  "Louie, Louie" (Rhino, VA: Nuggets) ["Rock The Coin Right Into The Slot--Goldmine's Rock 'n' Roll Jukebox" 4/1/05]
THE CATHOLIC GIRLS:  "Boys Can Cry" (Renaissance, The Catholic Girls) ["A Fistful Of Quarters!  Readers Respond To Goldmine's Definitive Rock 'n' Roll Jukebox" 1/6/06]
     And a glimpse at what might have been:
THE REMAINS:  "Don't Look Back" (Rhino, VA:  Nuggets) ["It Came From The Garage!  Nuggets And The Rediscovery Of '60s Punk"  unfinished and unpublished]
The Goldmine reviews (a barely-representative sampling):
THE SMITHEREENS:  "It's Alright" (Capitol, Blow Up)
DARLENE LOVE:  "Lord, If You're A Woman" (Abkco, The Best Of Darlene Love)
THE PHENOMENAL CATS:  "Seagirl" (Sound Asleep, Seagirl & 5 Other Dogs)
THE NEW COLONY SIX:  "I Confess" (Sundazed, At The River's Edge)
JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS:  "I Love You" (ROIR, Live At Max's Kansas City '79)
THE PANDORAS:  "It's About Time" (Voxx, It's About Time)
DANNY HOLMES:  "Weak Song" (Gloria Edwin Productions, Cool Beans)
MATERIAL ISSUE:  "So Easy To Love Somebody" (Mercury, Destination Universe)
WIRE TRAIN:  "Chamber Of Hellos" (Oglio, In A Chamber/Between Two Worlds)
POPDUDES:  "Beautiful Sunday" (Not Lame, VA:  Right To Chews)
ARTHUR ALEXANDER:  "Everyday I Have To Cry Some" (Razor & Tie, The Ultimate Arthur Alexander)
THE DEAD BOYS:  "All This And More" (Sire, Young, Loud And Snotty)
ELLIOTT MURPHY:  "Drive All Night" (Razor & Tie, Diamonds By The Yard)
THE KINKS:  "One Of The Survivors" (Velvel, Preservation Act 1)
PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS:  "Him Or Me--What's It Gonna Be?" (Sundazed, Revolution!)
CHRIS VON SNEIDERN:  "Annalisa" (Heyday, Sight & Sound)
COCKEYED GHOST:  "About Jill" (Big Deal, Keep Yourself Amused) 
IT'S MY PARTY!:  "That Boy Belongs To Yesterday" (To M'Lou, VA:  He's A Rebel)
SHANE FAUBERT:  "Ophelia" (Music Maniac, San Blass)
THE MOVE:  "Tonight" (EMI, Great Move!)
THE TURTLES:  "It Was A Very Good Year" (Sundazed, It Ain't Me Babe)
THE FLESHTONES:  "One More Time" (Amsterdamned, Angry Years 84-86)
THE POPTARTS:  "I Won't Let You Let Me Go" (PlumTone, Fresh...Out Of The Toaster)
DMZ:  "You're Gonna Miss Me" (Voxx, When I Get Off)
THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS:  "What Can I Do Today" (EMI, Hippy Hippy Shake)
THE BARRACUDAS:  "I Wish It Could Be 1965 Again" (Voxx, Drop Out With The Barracudas)
THE SHADES:  "Ballot Bachs" (Arf!  Arf!, VA:  Everything You Always Wanted To Know About 60's Mind Expansive Punkadelic Garage Rock Instrumentals But Were Afraid To Ask)