Friday, March 06, 2009

Single Issue Review: Teen Beat #1

Here's a real oddball comic series from DC. Seeing the obvious interest for teen music magazines, DC tried to cash in with their own version of Tiger Beat. The first article is about Moby Grape, which Teen Beat claims is the best band to come out of San Francisco. It's a pretty bold claim, but AllMusic does rate their debut album (which shipped only a few months before this issue came out) with five stars.

One obvious lie on the cover: Although the mag says it's "In Groovy Color", in fact the pictures on the inside are all black and white with colorful backgrounds as in this photo of the notoriously crazy Skip Spence:

Spence later attacked the drummer with an axe and ended up in Bellevue's psych ward, which may explain why Moby Grape didn't remain a "Whale of a Band".

Up next is a look at the change in the Beatle's hair since they first hit the pop scene in 1964. The amusing thing is that it still looks fairly short compared to what was to come.

The third feature is on the one-hit wonder band, Every Mother's Son. Their only claim to fame was the snoozer "Come on Down to My Boat, Baby", which still occasionally gets airplay on oldies stations.

Next comes the cover-advertised story on whether the Monkees were splitting up. As best as I can tell from a quick reading, the "logic" employed here is that the Beatles looked like they were breaking up, so therefore the Monkees would eventually break up. Of course, as it worked out, the Monkees actually broke up before the Beatles, but well after this issue, so the cover blurb and story appear to be nothing more than a cheap trick.

The girl above is "Teeny" and she appears regularly throughout the mag making commentary on the bands. When there's a story about the "Two Faces of Peter Noone" (of Herman's Hermits), she says "I love them both!"

There's an oddball page about Zal Yanovsky leaving the Lovin' Spoonful; looking at the AllMusic site on the band reveals that he was more or less forced to leave because of a boycott by the burgeoning "counterculture". Yanovsky had been busted for pot possession and turned in his dealer.

Teeny Predicts stardom for four bands. Procol Harum, the Bee Gees, the Free Spirits, and the Tremoloes. It's safe to say that only the Bee Gees moved into that category, although I actually like the other three bands better myself. The Free Spirits were an early jazz/rock band featuring a young Larry Coryell, and while the Tremeloes were never a big success in the US, their song "Here Comes My Baby" is terrific.

There's a story about the Supremes (this comic had more black people in it than any DC comic in the 1960s), although of course they were soon headed for major shakeups as were the next band featured, the Byrds. And then a feature on the Jefferson Airplane, which includes this rather amusing claim:

Wow, the Airplane not a protest band?

Bonus coverage:

I couldn't resist talking a little bit about the second issue. First the title was changed to Teen Beam as explained here:

Second, DC began to utilize their cartoonists to create what the fan mags couldn't, like "baby pictures" of the Monkees:

A joke about Rudy Vallee and raccoon coats? And no, neither of these issues went out with the seal of the CCA.

Overall comments: Despite some interesting choices of bands to feature, the books obviously didn't sell. I suspect that given their comic-book size they were not placed on the rack with Tiger Beat and similar teen mags, where their 12 cent price might have attracted some girls. The individual features have the aroma of having been basically written by publicity people for the record company.

Hat Tip to Gorilla Daze, who noted the weird advertising for these issues which inspired me to dig out the scans of this very unusual DC publication.

More discussion of these two issues here.