Back in the ’90s, when pretty much whatever energy I still had left as a rock critic was being spilled into freebie fanzines, Jeff Pike’s Tapeworm was one of the funnest ones for me to write for. The premise was simple, and irresistible (and no doubt a wee bit quaint to anyone under the age of 30): contributors would compile a mix tape, write whatever they wanted to about said mix tape, send it to Jeff, and receive back a copy of another tape reviewed in the same issue. I think that was the premise; it’s almost 20 years now, and all my ‘zines are currently in storage. Receiving the tape in the mail was not the highlight for me in any case; it was making my mix, writing it up, and reading about everyone else’s. The other great thing about Tapeworm, for me, was that it was the third or fourth baton in the Great Fanzine Relay race of ’89-’97 (or thereabouts), following Frank Kogan’s Why Music Sucks, Phil Dellio’s Radio On, and — either right before or perhaps in conjunction with — Sarah Riegel’s Kitschener, each of which had several crossover contributors, each of which was a pleasure to read and an even greater pleasure to contribute to.
Which is all a long preamble to note some recent online music writing activity by Jeff Pike (who once wrote a terrific piece in Tapeworm on Joe Carducci, which he was kind enough to let me reprint in Popped). Can’t Explain: 100 Hit Songs is Jeff’s countdown, from 2010, of his personal favourite songs which reached the Billboard Top 40. Each selection is accompanied by its own substantial review. Can’t Explain: 100 Other Songs is the still-in-progress flipside to that: 100 more songs, 100 more reviews, though in this case, it’s “songs that never made the U.S. Billboard Top 40 — in many if not all cases didn’t even get within shouting distance of it.” The most recent entry is Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action,” which recently made my own Top 100. Here’s Jeff: “Its gentle yelps of sincerity guide the way down the path to the chorus, which soars even as it maintains almost perfectly the unassuming air, a kind of humility that comes to feel nearly spiritual across the breadth of the album, and it starts approximately right here.” (Simultaneous to all this music counting-down, Jeff is also writing a fair bit on movies.)