Chatterbox #4

September 1976. 10 cents. The word “punk” is already being used in earnest and we’re not in NY or LA, we’re in Seattle. Chatterbox #4 is truly an educational glimpse into a world in which educated rocknroll fans are yearning for something better, and very much realize that they’re on the cusp of it. Hence this newsprint mag’s balancing an “out with the old” approach (Neil Hubbard’s anti-stadium concert editorial, trashing the “animals” at recent Wings and Led Zeppelin shows) with a celebration of the typical crumbs offered up around this time – Patti Smith Group, Ramones, Roxy Music, Bowie and the like – even Television get a positive mention.

An unnamed writer relays that, “The other night on KZOK’s listener-programmed “Your Mother Won’t Like It” show, some little tart named Mary really did a show ‘mothers wouldn’t like:” Dictators, Stooges, Ramones, Eno, New York Dolls….wall to wall bizarropunk.” That must have been a mindblower for certain Northwesterners. FM Radio still did that sort of thing in 1976; that’s right around the time I started flipping my radio over from the AM dial, and where I lived, in Sacramento, we had two stations that still had some of this freeform feel: KZAP and KNDE. They called it “album rock”, meaning not singles, but I wasn’t quite ready for some of these heavy sounds at age 8, let alone wall to wall bizarropunk. (In fact, when I first heard The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” on the radio not long after this, it kinda scared me a little). 

There’s a gossip column (“Chatterbox Chitchat”, written by “Melba Toast”) in which Tomata Du Plenty of The Tupperwares details his trip to Los Angeles, which I’m certain was a warm-up that led him to leave Seattle mere months later to start up The Screamers in LA. There’s also talk about The Beatles getting back together in 1976 – I believe this was really a thing at the time – and much dropping of names about local Seattle acts and scenesters. What I’m pleased to learn here is that there was a robust original music scene in town at this point; it wasn’t just fern bar bands playing covers, and writers pissing and moaning about it. 

The best thing in here is a rollicking, long interview with Dave Hill of Slade, who’s a self-admitted total “yob” and a great sport, just totally open to gabbing with the fanzine writer about anything and everything. These guys were megawatt rock stars in the UK at the time, not in the US, which he acknowledges and seems pretty chagrined about. This part wasn’t too convincing on Dave’s part, though:

CB: HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A GROUP CALLED THE STOOGES?

DH: Yeah.

CB: GREAT HUH?

DH: Yeah, the name I like. 

The interviewer then tries to bait him into badmouthing fellow UK travelers The Sweet, who were breaking in the US in a major way with “Fox on The Run” and “Ballroom Blitz”. The latter song was a very early Jay Hinman favorite; my mom once walked in on me in our Sacramento garage, dancing and shouting the lyrics at top volume to it as it played on my transistor. Dave Hill won’t take the bait about The Sweet! A true gentleman; now I’m sorry we Americans totally ignored Slade. 

I love everything about Chatterbox #4 and its writers’ enthusiasms and passions. It’s a relatively professional if homespun publication and I’m definitely going to see if any other copies might find their way into my hands in the near future. 

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