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this looked great on paper
another music magazine hits the fan
by joe procopio (@jproco)

Mind you, I was in the grocery store of all places, so it wasn't with a very rock attitude that I happened to stumble over the newest music magazine on the market. I was tired, I had had a long day, and I was looking for something to crash on the couch with.

I spied Rolling Stone and Spin, both had someone absolutely miserable on the cover. I was about to grab a copy of Time or something equally dreadul when I spotted a headline on a magazine that I had originally quickly glanced at and dismissed as a Teen Beat type deal with its shirtless Jim Morrison cover:

Police Reunion! (World Exclusive by Vic Garbarini)

No. Get out of here.

This was enough to make me buy the magazine, the first time in over 15 years that Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland were in the same room to talk about what went wrong and what led to the mysterious break up of the biggest (and, in my humble opinion, best) band in the world.

It wasn't until I got into the checkout line that I noticed the signifigance of the issue, it was the first issue of Revolver, the first real new contender in the music magazine world in a very long time. I also realized that beyond Garbarini's involvment, J.D. Considine, Anthony DeCurtis, and Dave Marsh were also on board.

I cracked the cover with the expectation that this might be worth something. I was quickly disillusioned.

Far be it from me to judge the usefullness of a magazine, what with this little guerilla operation we have running here. But then there is this from the editors' (Brad Tolinski and Tom Beaujour) letter, "It's Time for a New Music Magazine":

"At a time when, more than ever, music shapes and defines pop-culture, America's best-selling rock magazine regularly peddles television actresses and movie starlets on its cover. And then there are those other publications, whose editors apparently believe that music history began somewhere in Seattle during the mid Eighties."

Whoa. Them's fighting words. On one hand, they have a point. Rolling Stone and Spin have become as insulting and gladhanding as, well, as pop-music is right now. But a quick glance through the pages of Revolver showed me Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Oasis, Elliot Smith, and Slipknot.

Boys, you've been scooped. And by the very institutions you mock.

Admittedly, the Police interview was perhaps the best piece of music journalism I've read. Ever. Beyond my own biases, the writing was sharp, the questions were pointy, and Garbarini seemed to bring the best and worst out of Sting and Stewart Copeland.

Best line - Copeland to Andy Summers: "Andy, since we're all here, I'm going to back you up on this. You should stand up right now and say, 'I, Andy, want all of the Puff Daddy money. Because that's not Sting's song he's using, that's my guitar riff.'"

The rest of the magazine was as ESPN the Magazine is to Sports Illustrated - glossier, less depth, same crap.

* Dave Navarro's favorite records to boink to
* A story on Supergrass, who will soon be as irrelevant as Oasis
* A story on Oasis
* Rockers turned record execs (with precious little on the fact that these are vanity positions)
* A story on the Doors (to make sure we know music history began in 1970?)
* A big worthless thing on the bad boys of rock
* A story on crap Japan rock
* A fashion shoot
* Some reviews (they like Smashing Pumpkins - credibility goes to zero)
* Gadgets

But by far the most annoying thing about Revolver is that I had a hard time distinguishing the content from the ads. There were a lot of single-page articles with three or four paragraphs of text. A lot of short-attention-span lists and grabbers. And... well, articles that were really nothing more than ads. I kept asking myself, is this an ad for DMX or a story on him (it was an ad).

The world does need a better form of creative artist journalism. That's why we're here. But until we start calling ourselves the outsider while pandering to the same ruling class, we're going to go ahead and scoff at publications like Revolver.

Pop music magazines have the same problem as pop music itself. So, Brad, Tom, for the last time. It's not about how you say it, it's about what you say.


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio


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