Galactic Zoo Dossier #7

You wanna talk about a magazine that proudly stood on its own and carved its own path, it’d be this one. There’s really never been anything quite like it. Chicago’s Steve Krakow, aka Plastic Crimewave, was the guy behind this incredible compendium of obsessive, over-the-top psychedelia worship, and the man didn’t just edit and write most of the thing, he hand-scripted every article & interview with his pen (in longhand, you know what I mean?), and then hand-drew virtually every band image. Because I’m so used to reading typed text in common fonts, it actually takes some adjustment to read a full article in someone’s handwriting. Krakow even re-writes articles submitted to him in type, such as Byron Coley’s interview with Gary Panter (about lightshows!) in GZD #7. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about this magazine incredulously says the same thing: “How long do you think it took him to put this thing together?!?”. 

Krakow’s drawings tend to transform nonentities like Tiny Tim or The Bee Gees or Attila into crazed psychedelic warlords; you’ll see one of these imposing renderings of, say, Mungo Jerry, and you’re like – “Wait, do I like Mungo Jerry? Should I??”. In Krakow’s world, anything at the intersection of psychedelia, garage and prog is fair game for high-energy blather – words like “freaks”, “fuzzstorms” and “free-form” come up often, and hey – it’s all to the good. We need frothing enthusiasm for lost music like this, and as long as you’re not personally dropping $250 for a copy of a Mandrake Paddle Steamer acetate on his word without taste-testing it online first, you’ll be just fine.

The crew that put this 2007 issue together with him are all totally insane music fiends, all of them. Nobody can touch Krakow, though – he even stumps his sixty- and seventy-something interviewees about their own bands, careers and B-sides. How can you not totally love this guy? He’s a do-it-all renaissance man just totally immersed and bathing in the years 1965-1974, with enthusiasm to burn and a clear passion for getting into the clubs and seeing anyone and everyone connected to his favorite genres & their post-70s exponents (for instance, Japan’s over-the-top psych bands on PSF come up pretty regularly). I actually stumbled upon his band Plastic Crimewave Sound in 2005, a couple years before this issue, and wrote a review of his show here, making sure that I praised his wild hippy pants in my recap as well.

I mean, if I could travel back in time and join a nascent scene, I’d probably be at Los Angeles’ Masque on opening night in 1977, and I’d go to shows in LA six nights a week for the next 6 or 7 years. I get the sense Krakow would be on the British free festival circuit, circa 1968-72, frolicking in the mud with comely maidens, tripping his brains out to Hawkwind, the Edgar Broughton Band and Kingdom Come. I’d be remiss if I pegged the man and his world to just psych or prog, though. Free jazz is hep, and so is folk. In fact, this issue comes with two sets of hand-drawn trading cards (!), one devoted to 45 “Damaged Guitar Gods” (Daevid Allen. Skip James, Fast Eddie Clarke and so on); the other to 27 “Astral Folk Goddesses” (including many of my personal favorites like Vashti Bunyan, Anne Briggs, Linda Perhacs, Nico and Karen Dalton). Don’t separate them!! 

Clearly Krakow’s got a massive 60s/70s comic collection as well, because another Galactic Zoo Dossier peccadillo is take any & all panels from comics like Archie or similar lesser lights that show hippies, burnouts, druggies, rockers, mods, psychedelic eyeballs, light shows and so on. As mentioned previously, there’s really nothing else like GZD before or since, and you’d do yourself a favor to dig into one or more, many of which are still available on the Drag City site.

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