OldStand: Rolling Stone, January 12, 1989

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.

Rolling Stone’s second issue of 1989 was a mixed bag. We start with a lame cover story on Mel Gibson (as vapid as the star himself, although somewhat less alcoholic and definitely less anti-semitic), but it’s balanced out by a profile of And Justice…-era Metallica (Jason Newsted: “Metallica is going to be one of the bands you look back on in the year 2008, that people will still listen to the way I still listen to Zeppelin and Sabbath albums”). Was he right, or did everything post-Sandman sully the glow? Either way, it’s a good look back at the band as fan-driven phenomenon, when Lars was more into viral tape-trading than copyright beefs.

Have you figured out R.E.M.’s Biggest Album Yet? Gold star if you guessed Green, which gets a grudging 3.5 stars (wonderful album, but The Pursuit of Happiness pulled three — was this the beginning of star inflation at the Stone?). Also, I know the art of dirty politics predates the late 80s, but for those of you who want to understand just how America arrived at its current level of partisan vitriol, there’s a helpful interview with the original Hatchet (and axe) man Lee Atwater. Sure he helped Karl Rove cheat his way to the College Republican presidency in the 1970s, slandered Dukakis in the 1980s, and gave George W his first office in the White House in the 1990s, but it’s totally cool because he plays the guitar! Douchebag is not a word I throw around lightly, but Atwater was the originator and the emancipator, and never has the term been more appropriately applied.

But, as with most publications 19 years and older, the best things in this issue are the advertisements, specifically a full-pager featuring a mail-in offer for Charlemagne’s sword. Why would Rolling Stone readers want to purchase a replica sword? Maybe because it’s 38-and-a-half inches from tip to pommel. (That’s what she said!! — Michael Scott)

After the jump: Rod Stewart eats Mick Jagger’s shrimp, Daydream Nation beats Let it Bee (no, it’s not a typo) by half a star, and this whole David Byrne thing starts getting ridiculous.




The better to knight your Dungeon Master with, my dear.


“Hillary and Obama at the Democratic Convention…I haven’t seen a gathering this awkward since the time Dennis Miller hosted that Cuervo Pool Party.”


Check out the mysterious circles: albums to buy, or people to kill?


Perhaps the only thing Anita Baker and When in Rome have in common.


They dissed Weird Al’s sandwiches, but he took his revenge…in polka medley form.


Their acne was so much more badass than George Michael’s fans’ acne.


Screw you, Rob Tannenbaum, for convincing me to download Voice Of The Beehive off of iTunes.


For posterity, Oldstand iron-man David Byrne.