Rip magazine's fifth annual party - a major event in the rock/film/TV axis in Los Angeles, set for this Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium - has a Seattle theme this year. "It wasn't designed that way, but that's how it turned out, 'cause Seattle's so hot right now," said party organizer Lonn Friend, executive editor of the metal-oriented magazine. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam are among the bands scheduled to play, and former Seattleite Duff McKagan of Guns 'N Roses will be a special guest. To show just how hot our bands are, Luke Perry and Ian Ziering, stars of the sizzling "Beverly Hills 90210," begged to introduce Alice in Chains, reportedly the "90201" kids' favorite band. (They got their wish.) Some 1,500 guests have been invited, and 2,500 tickets were sold to the public. Coincidentally, Alice in Chains is featured in the November Rip. Writer Jennifer Clay went along with the band on several "Clash of the Titans" (with Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth) tour stops in the Southwest. Among other things, she viewed a porno video featuring beastiality on their tour bus, commiserated with singer Layne Staley as he struggled with sobriety (the AIC singer has given up drugs and alcohol), heard some piquant put-downs directed at the band Nelson, and skydived with most of AIC in Phoenix, a vitalizing and unifying experience for the band.
-- "Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell," by Rocket editor Charles R. Cross and contributing editor Erik Flannigan, with photos by Neal Preston, hits the bookstores today (Harmony Books; $25). It's a savvy move by Cross - author of "Backstreets: Springsteen - The Man and His Music" - because Led Zeppelin is still one of the most popular bands in rock, more than a decade after it broke up. Cross bedded down in room 342 at the Edgewater - Jimmy Page's suite when the band came to Seattle - to write the opening chapter, a hagiography called "Shadows Taller Than Our Soul." He argues that the infamous "mudshark incident," immortalized in a song by Frank Zappa, was a harmless little prank that actually involved a red snapper (let's set the record straight!) and a willing groupie. Attacking the rock press for not recognizing the band's greatness is a theme, including unkind quotes from this newspaper (but not by me - I'm as fanatical about the band as Cross). Every one of some 400 concerts the band performed is listed, with notes on many (i.e., its second American concert was here in 1968) and there are notes on every song and every bootleg album. An exhaustive 1977 interview with Page takes up about 15 pages of text. Actually, the best thing about the book are the pictures - which take up about half the book's 208 pages - most of them by official band photographer Preston, many never seen before.
-- Nirvana is featured in the October issue of Pulse!, the free Tower Records magazine. The piece, by assistant editor Ned Hammad, praises the band's major-label debut, "Nevermind," on DGC Records. But, of course, Pulse! praises all records - the valuable part is the interesting interview with singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain, about high-school angst in Aberdeen and other things that have contributed to Nirvana's sound. The band, whose album is shaping up to be one of the big alternative-rock hits of the year, is also on the cover of this month's Rocket - a last-minute change after Soundgarden failed to show up for a photo shoot.
-- Travel back in time with Backfire. The May 1984 issue of the long-gone Seattle rock magazine has finally been released, mainly because editor Dawn Anderson put together the money to do it. The free fanzine (with current advertising) has features on such '80s icons as the Cramps, Twisted Sister and Duran Duran, along with features and reviews on a slew of Seattle bands. The old photos are fun, especially pictures of Duff McKagan, Taime Downe and Mike Starr (Alice in Chains) when they were young and foolish. Anderson says in her editor's notes that she's thinking of reviving Backfire permanently, which would be a welcome addition to coverage of local rock.