Damp #3

Part of the reason I started this endeavor up was to set a digital trail for quality, formative magazines like Damp that really possess no internet presence outside of what I myself have put up there, and especially what Tony P wrote during the years he was publishing Fuckin’ Record Reviews. Where I come from this shit matters, and besides, it gives me an opportunity to go back and re-educate myself about music I might not have been ready for when I first encountered it in the pages of, say, Kevin Kraynick’s Damp in the late 80s.

I know we’re not talking about it here, but his Beefheart issue, #5, came out when I, like so many, had heard Trout Mask Replica and said, nope, that’s definitely not for me. Maybe two years later after his mag came out, ‘92 or so, my “stance” had totally changed and I was singing the praises of the Captain wherever I could, and I got to revisit Damp #5 and really whet my palate that much more. I suppose I could do the same with this issue and The Fugs, but I already very much enjoy Tuli Kupferberg and The Fugs, perhaps more in spirit than in action. 

But what I’m getting at is that Kraynick, in 1988, was mixing his general “indie underground” (i.e. this issue’s Scrawl and Nice Strong Arm interviews) with oblique musical worlds that your average college radio 19-year-old (like me) hadn’t quite cottoned to, and placed it all on a beautiful continuum that’s rather obvious in hindsight. Kind of like Patrick Amory’s Too Fun Too Huge! that we talked about here. 

Kraynick wrote well, dug deep and used one of the worst fonts imaginable. I don’t know what you’d call it – “Dos command line”? That’s what it looked like, and it’s what word processors were built with at the time – so all is forgiven. This issue also has a great if rather sad interview with John Trubee, whom some of you may know from his album The Communists Are Coming To Kill Us!; his novelty hit “A Blind Man’s Penis”; his prank phone calls or for one of the all-time great song titles, “Satan Pukes on the High School Cheerleaders”. Trubee, in Damp #3, comes off as a misanthrope, sure, but a very self-hating misanthrope, whose bitterness and disgust at the world is only outweighed by that directed at himself. I’m glad to know, in 2023, that he’s still with us, because he’s given me a few good laffs and chortles over the years.

Meanwhile, there are a few more yuks to be had in Damp #3. Contributor Steve Erickson, whom we last discussed in our review of his Cut #11, gets his first exposure to Alex Chilton via his High Priest album and says, “I suppose someday I’ll pick up a Big Star album…why couldn’t he have covered The Fall’s “Hip Priest” or The Scientists’ “Bad Priest” instead of Carole King and “Volare”?” Oh for sure, I know how BUMMED people were around this time when they’d go see Chilton, and he’d do an earnest, not-kidding-at-all, full-blown version of “Volare”, usually with a shirt open to his navel. So good. For what it’s worth, I didn’t hear Big Star myself until 1993, and, suitably impressed, I told my friend JB about my new discovery and his riposte was, “Dude, that’s so high school”. Ouch.

Off topic again. Kraynick gets in a few zingers himself at the expense of Three Day Stubble, The Descendents, Tim Adams of The Pope fanzine (and later Ajax Mailorder) and not an insignificant amount of others. His contributors – New England/NYC fellow travelers – actually get more play than he does, especially with the features, so Damp #3 is more of a group effort than I’d remembered. The magazine would get even better from here; I have a bunch of them; and we shall be discussing them in this forum at some later date to be determined at whim.

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