You have to bear in mind that significant portions of my life have been characterised by some essentially incompatible habits.
From the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s I was a student and then a working actor, mostly in theatre-in-education, moving from shared house to shared house and often from town to town.
I also collected (hoarded is such a harsh term) old and new Rolling Stone magazines. These were duly lugged in milk crates from abode to abode and, I should add, read and re-read with delight.
This is hard to sustain after ten years or so and I duly sold a lot off. The 90s were more settled so I built up a new collection of RS as well as Q and Mojo, plus some key issues of Creem, NME, Crawdaddy, The Face, even a Juice or two. Eventually these also became too cumbersome and too room-consuming, and were shown the door.
Yes, of course I miss those publications, or rather the articles by people like Greil Marcus, Cameron Crowe, Mat Snow, Lenny Kaye, Anthony DeCurtis, David Dalton, Barney Hoskyns, Phil Sutcliffe, Ben Edmonds, Ben Fong-Torres, Tom Hibbert, Dave Marsh, Nick Tosches, Jaan Ulheszki, Johnny Black, Andy Gill – I’ve hardly scratched the surface. All seemingly lost to me.
But now I have Rock’s Backpages.
It’s not complicated – an online archive of “reviews, interviews and features on artists from Aaliyah to ZZ Top, by the best writers and from the most influential magazines”. They’re not kidding. I found articles by Anthony O’Grady from RAM in 1975! And they’re constantly adding to the library.
Sure, it costs to subscribe. US$50 for a year. Compare that to a subscription to a single good quality music mag. Or worse, buying single issues at the local newsagents.
All the writers and mags I’ve mentioned are available. And more. Many, many, many more.
Articles are indexed by artist, by writer, by theme, by media outlet, by popularity. There are even audio interviews in mp3.
Rock’s Backpages is truly rock and roll heaven.