For some reason (probably because I am stupid), I still have a box of guitar magazines I bought when I was first learning to play guitar, back in high school! Why do I still have these? Don’t ask. Hoarding tendencies? Naw, I throw out tons of stuff all the time. Important financial documents? Handwritten letters from family members? Straight to the garbage! But I still have guitar magazines I bought 25 years ago. IMPORTANT HISTORICAL MATERIAL, HERE.
Whatever the reason, my neurosis is your gain, and your gain is COMEDY GOLD. Spandex, big teased hair, tight stonewashed jeans – and that’s just the dudes. Sexism, earnest discussion of Robin Trower guitar solos – what more could you possibly ask for?
Much like how what we really think of as “The Sixties” didn’t start until the late sixties, what we now think of as “The Eighties” bled well into the 1990s. People think of “80s hair metal” and “90s grunge,” but really the hair metal genre was just reaching its ridiculous apex in the 1990s. Nirvana’s Nevermind didn’t come out until 1991, and would have a slow burn up the charts before flannel wearing wankers would begin to displace spandex wearing wankers on radios and cassette Walkmans across the land.
I didn’t care about either set of wankers, I wasn’t interested in hair metal or grunge. I was just learning to play guitar, and I was buying copies of magazines like Guitar Player, Guitar World, and the pretentiously named Guitar for the Practicing Musician, for their very occassional discussion of blues, country, and roots guitar players. This interest in rootsy guitar styles made me a high school weirdo freak that was more of an outcast than any punk rocker surrounded by preps, or Greaser surrounded by Socs. Everybody else in my small town was listening to Warrent, Randy Travis, or Sir Mix-A-Lot. I was mail ordering Hound Dog Taylor cassettes from Alligator Records and trying to figure out Grady Martin’s solos on Johnny Horton records. There wasn’t much in these magazines for me, but I was young and dumb enough, I figured “Anybody in a guitar magazine must know more about guitar than me.”
So anyway, here are some choice scans from what might possibly be the first guitar magazine I ever bought, a February 1990 copy of Guitar for the Practicing Musician. I believe I bought it for the FULL TAB TRANSCRIPTION of La Grange by ZZ Top. If you are wondering why anybody would need tab to figure out how to play La Grange, since it only has one chord, you are forgetting that, at this moment in time, I totally sucked at guitar. Duh, that’s why I was buying guitar magazines at the grocery store. I can’t say that I cite Joe Satriani’s discussion of the Lydian, Dorian, and Hungarian modes in thrash soloing as much of an influence, but I sure paid attention when they talked about La Grange. To this day, I stick to one chord if possible.
In addition to the tab for La Grange, surprisingly, there was some other music discussed in this issue that is actually good. There is an interview with Dave Davies, and a review of a Roy Buchanan album. This is probably the first time middle-of-nowhere high-school-age me had ever heard of Roy Buchanan (or Dave Davies, for that matter). I went on to cover a Roy Buchanan song later in my “music career” (ha ha) so IMPORTANT HISTORICAL ARTIFACT HERE, PEOPLE.
All of that stuff is beside the point, though, because the point is to LAUGH AT STUPID SHIT! The funniest thing about these old magazines is the ads, but I’ve also included some choice writing. Guitar players can only hope that one day they, too, will find themselves described as a
strong melody man with post-Malmsteen chops that are hinted at and never flaunted. Reminded me of early King Crimson, but with more balls.
First of an occassional series.