OldStand: Rolling Stone, September 13, 1984

Take our ink-stained hands and join us at the OldStand, where Jon McMillan goes to remind everyone what an honest-to-goodness music magazine is supposed to look like.

Lots of Huey Lewis (and the News) news lately, so let’s go back to the source and see what all the hype is about.

On the one hand, reading about Huey Lewis made me feel old because it reminded me of the dog-eared insert of my brother’s Sports cassette; on the other hand, I felt young because the post-60s, hippie-vs-non-hippie music wrangling that apparently defined Huey’s early career was so goddamn boring. Huey Lewis, on the third hand, is old as fuck.

But wait, let’s look a bit closer at veteran Chris Connelly’s (of MTV and ESPN fame) piece:

“If you were looking to cast a rock & roll idol, Huey Lewis would probably not make the final cut. He’s a strong, yet somewhat one-dimensional singer; he’s handsome but older looking than the average rock star; and he dances about as well as Menudo — which is to say not very well. But despite those drawbacks – and a live show that seems a tad padded with instrumental soloing — he gets his wildly enthusiastic, predominately female audiences where he wants them: on their feet.”

Connelly later goes on to describe Huey’s music as an “appealing blend of non exploitative sexulity and hearty fellowship.” This, only a few months after describing the band as “a few bricks shy of a load” in his unflattering 2.5-star review (only a half star more than the Yentil soundtrack, for reference). Clearly, Connelly hates Huey Lewis, and it’s fun trying to watch him wring some faint praise out of the palpable contempt. Too bad for us – as a historical document, this could have been an epic hatchet job. Instead, it’s simply uninteresting.

As with many of the older magazines, the ads and special sections steal the show. I’m a sucker for old audio gear in particular. It’s fun to laugh at their portable turntables and gigantic phones, but it’s also instructive to compare the vision against what actually happened (cassette tapes vs. say, the iPod), because it underscores the inherent unknowability of how specific technologies will evolve. But mostly I like making fun of the giant phones. Those things were huge! And a recording device that saves time by playing tapes at 2x speed? What the fuck is that?

One last interesting note: a large portion of RS 430 is given over to Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, parts of which were serialized in 1984.

Check the price: $1500 for 40 hours of music.

Rich Hall … Billy Crystal … and a woman!

In the future only the super-rich will be able to afford CD players in their cars. (Click to enlarge.)

Only two hip-hop records in the top 50 — both soundtracks to breakdancing movies.

A great investment — surely VHS tapes will only appreciate in value.

Is it just me, or has Huey looked exactly the same for the last 25 years?

Anybody ever use one of these?

The funny thing is, I literally can’t think of any possible applications for this device.

Imagine a phone that could fit right in your coat pocket.