Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sound Choice #1, Jan/Feb 1984

This week's posting is one of the two offspring of the John Foster's OP magazine, one of the first "catalog" independent publications. OP begat both Sound Choice (1984-1992) and Option, the more commercial of the two (it went out of publication in 2004). Sound Choice, as you can see from the cover terms itself the "music magazine for the INDEPENDENT minded" and it continued in this abashadly non-commercial vein for its life. Whereas Option looked for greater distribution and introducing the underground and independent to the mainstream, Sound Choice instead took the approach of trying to make the current community more intertwined and creating a resource to help others "join"

Hence, you didn't subscribe to Sound Choice, you joined the "Audio Evolution Network." If you were an independent minded musician, listener or a writer, there was a ton of info in Sound Choice - radio station addresses, record labels, artist addresses, and even classifieds in the back. And of course, if you sent your recording in for review, you would get a review (one paragraph but a review nonetheless) whereas many magazines expressed editorial selection over what they would review. The downside is that such a one-size-fits-all approach can be pretty boring and watered down. There's even two pages of reviews in the which the reviewer (Mykel Board) states he won't make any "value judgements"... Well, I guess that's all find and good but without opinions, things can get pretty bland quickly. Although the other reviewers include their opinions - they usually do so tepidly. But there was ONE value judgement made implicitly in that if you were on a "major label" you wouldn't be written about in Sound Choice...

In this 72-page ish, lots of articles on stuff beginning with the letter A (mimicing OP's quirky approach - the next issue would have lots of "B" things and so on). So Algebra Suicide, Art Bears, Albany's acoustic scene, anarchist radio, album covers (reprinted below) and American Splendor get featured. The reviews are many - good stuff residing with the bad stuff (no editorial selection, just review whatever they sends you I guess). I was interested to verify that the underground's love for Ennio Morricone is not just a recent thing - there's an enthusiatic review by a J. Stacey Bishop (hmmm, any relation to Sir Richard Bishop?) of Morricone's La Grande Bourgeoise soundtrack. Jandek and Jarboe (pre-Swans) releases are reviewed (the reviewers express concern for the mental health of the artists). Mostly underwhelming then and now - the most interesting article, or at least the only one I read all the way through, was Diana Zincavage's memoir of doing punk album covers for the Circle Jerks and Lisa Fancher (she also did China White and Adolescents) - reprinted below.

*click to enlarge*

Fuzzlogic has a searchable index for Sound Choice (and OP and Option)
Sound Choice's Editor-in-Chief David Ciaffardini's rarely updated blog

NOTE: Once again, I wanted to note that this is a group blog - if you want to join, let me know and I'll send you an invite.