Saturday, March 16, 2019


Once again let us take a prowl through the annals of fanzine-dom, that wondrous world where messages and various brainfelt ideas that weren't exactly welcome in the big industry magazines could be circulated (somewhat). Yes, whether it be via quickie xerox or spirit duplicated pages or even fancy professional layout for that matter the fanzine idiom was once the ONLY place which spread THE WORD while everybody else was either writing us off as a buncha loonies or an insignificant minority. A hallowed place where the high energy championing of Velvets/Stooges aesthetics in a world more suited to John Denvoid and Carly Horseface could rage on unedited and with testes kept firmly in place...I'll betcha can't remember them days now, can'tcha hunh!

For this post we will commence with a coupla real rarities from the land o' Cle. Back inna late-seventies, Larry Lewis was somewhat of a name onna local scene what with this particular rag entitled MONGOLOID, a publication which is probably best noted for documenting and celebrating the local Cleveland under-the-counterculture rock scene and doin' a pretty good job of it at that. Of course CLE was the monster Cleve/Ako/Kento mag of the day, but at least Lewis was able to get this MONGOLOID thingie out on a somewhat regular basis which was a good thing for those of you who were up and around in the tri-city area and had to get your straight rock info from sources like THE COVENTRY SHOPPING NEWS because frankly no one else was giving the SUPERIOR BREED OF THE DAY like Pere Ubu or the Styrene Money Band any sorta notice! Well at least not with the throngs of brain-dead teenagers who actually liked the slop that was being poured into their trough (an' yeah, it sounds even worse forty years later...sorta like a dead body that's been found in an abandoned house after nobody's seen the guy for quite a long while).

The two rags I got hold of are more'n adequate examples of just what was RIGHT in fanzine publishing in those hopeful days when we thought the Velvet Underground were finally going to be vindicated after all those years of abject ignorance. Snappy writing (Lewis does have a good fannish sense to him that doesn't make him look as airheaded as  someone like myself usually gets) and boffo graphics make MONGOLOID the kinda fanzine that I sure wish I coulda gotten my paws on had this 'un not been so hard to latch onto!

Issue #6 (April/May 1979) has the expected international punk news of course and loads of record writeups, as well as an interview with the guitarist from the old Public Enemy group about why they split! I really like it especially for the editorial where Lewis mentions that HE was the guy who wrote that hate note to Anastasia Pantsios which she responded to, clumsily enough, in her FRIDAYS column...y'see, I'm not the ONLY one!

The next 'un from the end of the decade is really snat as well complete with a Paul Marotta interview that really gets to the brass knuckles of it all, not forgetting scene reports from Milwaukee and Detroit which, while fine, should have stayed in their burghs so's there'd be more room for the local news we all so desperately needed! Reading MONGOLOID lo these many years later really makes me feel all nice warm and toasty inside, reminding me of the last great push to regain rock 'n roll respectability in an era of disco and AOR, ultimately failing in the process to the point where everything those anti-rock types wanted back then HAS come true (slick sound minus the tension and belligerence), unfortunately.
Here's a fanzine of English extraction that pretty much outlived its fanzine existence and became a real flesh and blood PROZINE  as the years rolled on. I'm sure many of you have at least a handfulla BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS in your collection...I sure do ever since buying one of the earlier 'uns straight from Mr. Nigel Cross himself (who was once described to me as being a 300 pound hippie with an eclectic taste in various sound excursions) as well as subsequent ones from various dealers. As the underground music scene began to waft into areas I thought were comparatively dull my BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS purchases began to decline, but I can't deny that the earlier issues had that real personalist and on-target upstart attitude that I really go for in my rockist reading!

Managed to get issue #2, and even at this early stage in the game once could see the standard English fanzine style still extant. Sorta early ZIG ZAG-ish in its look and approach (heck, it even got a Pete Frame Moby Grape/Big Brother and the Holding Company family tree!), this ish clearly is in the more "genzine" category given how a good portion of coverage is devoted to the young upstarts inna game (Costello, Stamey, Brainiac 5) yet there was still room for a neat Michael Hurley piece to be plopped within these pages somewhat! Funny that the ratio of non-new-unto-gnu wave (copyright Bill Shute) would have been reversed in most of these English fanzines, but the same vigor and intensity that one could find in...say...COMSTOCK LODE as well as that English fascination with the entire boho scope can be found here. And although most of the acts mentioned on the cover aren't exactly my kind of dining and dancing music I gotta say that A BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS really does make for the kinda reading where you can enjoy what passes in front of your eyes even if you'd never think of listening to any of the acts being promoted!
Another English fanzine of a genzine nature, OUT NOW never did from the best of my knowledge last as long or accrued the amount of fame that BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS did. Still, this 'un (issue #9 dated 1978) seems typical of the style what with its mix of rock both olde tymey and gnu wave-y but don't mind that. Local heroes (Newcastle) the Junco Partners of PEBBLES VOLUME 6 fame adorn the cover and get a nice write up on the insides (y'see, they had reformed, or never did break up, or something like that) while the innards are stuffed with articles on the likes of Bowie, Dylan, Diddle, Squeeze and the Rich Kids. And although OUT NOW lacked a good portion of the spirit and excitement that made other similar reads so throbbingly intense it still has a whole lot more spirit and verve than those horrid introspective and cloistered fanzines from the late-eighties onward written by the same kinda people you thought stood directly AGAINST rock 'n roll back when you were spinning those noisy surf records at exceedingly high volume. Wouldn't mind knowing more about this particular endeavor that's fo' sho'!

(By the way, future NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS scribe Ian Penman was a contributor in case that jangles any real bonus points in your rock psyche.)
Huh, whuzziz? A long forgotten fanzine dedicated to the likes of Eddie and the Hot Rods, Dr. Feelgood and their enlightened pub rock brethren? Well, yes and no...I mean it's an oldie that's for sure, but it dates back to the not-so-rock-active year of 1991! Even from this lofty perch we call the 21st century that seems like a far off time albeit one I certainly would never want to return to. But from an early-nineties standpoint things like those early Feelgood and Hot Rods records as well as the underlying intensity that sure seemed centuries old given all the offal that came afterwards.

Nice production tho what with the glossy cover, and the writing ain't too bad as these guys keep the original Stiff Records spirit a'goin', what with their humorous takes on the entire "Canvey Island" scene and an import bin fulla all those records that you couldn't afford at the time given how they were goin' at $6.98 a pop. Pretty good effort from some true fans who, like me, refused to bend with the wind and go with the flow into territories I would feel insecure going into without my DENIM DELINQUENT book to guide me.
Although I was one of the millions who thought that the second issue of THROAT CULTURE with the Lester Bangs tribute and all was one fanzine straight outta the seventies spirit of gonz, it wasn't like I had that much of a love for editor Rob O'Connor. Well, at least I didn't since he stiffed me outta moolah for an ad in a ne'er to be third issue of his mag, money I sure could use in the here and now. Since I never did get the first issue of his rag (was warned it was gonna be a turdburger) I thought maybe latching onto one this late in the fanzine game woulda been a great way for me to exert some juicy revenge and say a whole lotta nasty stuff about the guy if only to ease the pain of money loss. It did seem like the right thing to do, and come to think of it it still does.

But in reality THROAT CULTURE #1 ain't exactly typical of the blander-than-bland post-sense of humor styled rock screeding that people like myself stood against during those less-than-high energy years. It's pretty snat in fact, although the main fodder of this seems to be the standard amerindie underground sounds that 1) seemed more like watered down variations on various sixties/seventies successes and 2) stood about as much the test of time as BEANS BAXTER.

This debut, besides containing a flexi-disc I think I'll handily leave stapled to the inside of the mag, is filled with the usual reviews, satire, cartoons and whatnot actually featuring some worthy reading not only at the hands of O'Connor but a number of contributors who I never heard of before and probably will never hear from again. Between the entertaining articles (such as a review of the Rolling Stones COCKSUCKER BLUES film which was finally rearing its head inna late eighties) and expected iff-ish comics (none as funny as the kind you saw in BLACK TO COMM) and college art school exhibition rejects there seems to be a underlying burning intensity that you saw in the earlier rock fanzines. Y'know, the ones that weren't going instant ga-ga over the new trends and ways which woulda made THROAT CULTURE one of those all-time classics had it only gone on for a little while longer.

So no O'Connor putdowns this time which is a shame considering the man's, uh, reputation and hey, if I hadda do it all over again maybe my own fanzine efforts woulda looked something more like this. But I doubt it.
A lotta fanzines that are part and parcel of the howshallwesay BLOG TO COMM credo have been published o'er the past fifty or so years (and that ain't even counting various Sci-Fi/Comic Book efforts that should also fit up our own expansive alleys), and it would take a good thousand years for me to straighten it all out, find and categorize the ones that would be most beneficial to the cause of rock 'n roll as a rabid, feral entity. The English language ones we probably know all about (with scant gaps in the ol' collection 'natch!) but as far as ones that were not published in the mother tongue---well, other than those ROCK NEWS and I WANNA BE YOUR DOG I'm sure that most of 'em'll remain forgotten for quite some time time.

Well, at least until some savvy aficionado tracks 'em all down and lays out the who, whats and whatevers about these mags that unfortunately slipped through the cracks at a time they were most needed in the face of ROLLING STONE's journalistic analingus.

I've heard PARAPLUIE mentioned as being a "fanzine" in the truest sense of the word quite a few times and from different sources who probably don't know each other! So using the same kind of mental acumen that once had me comparing every low-grade home-produced amerindie slosh to the Velvet Underground I'd consider it a fanzine even in the purest FREDRIC WERTHAM sense. A publication of French heritage running from about 1970 until 1973, PARAPLUIE was a tabloid in the tradition o the late-seventies NEW YORK ROCKER, albeit the content of at least the two issues that I own contain a mix of everything from music, art, politix, Amerigan underground cartoons translated into the mother tongue and moom pitchers making this closer to a Gallic version of yer standard hippoid underground paper of the day. One cover with Joe Dalessandro and his kin the buff was even swiped from EVERGREEN if I am not mistaken!  You know that these guys ain't exactly part and parcel to the yellow vests brigades what with the use of words like "Amerikkke" nohow!

Don't worry, because in between the rabble rousing and Timothy Leary interview there is still some rock 'n roll to contend with,! Even Yves Adrien contributes one of his columns, this one entitled  "Manifeste de la Panthere Electrique" which looks so gonzo even in its French original that I kinda get the idea that even Mme. La Merde woulda given Adrien an "F" had this been submitted in her class. Can't read it of course, but the thing looks wild what with the name-dropping of the likes of the Pretty Things, Mothers of Invention, Yardbirds, Beefheart and the MC5 amid the wild wailing on of revolution all done up in snatty layouts featuring faces of Robert Crumb characters. The Velvet Underground even get a snap published in the Viva article, and hey but is that really a live photo of none other than Third World War that I've never seen before??? Sorta makes up for all the bad stuff including that oft-seen pic of Charlie Chaplin in the snow that he's supposed to exude pathos from in order for us to feel sorry for him for 'n all that bunk.

IN CLOSING, here are couple of fanzines that seem to stretch the ideas of what a fanzine is supposed to be and what possibilities can be done with 'em even more'n those Richard Meltzer AJAX and contributions to frank's apa, not to mention things like BREAKFAST WITHOUT MEAT and other hit/miss efforts to transcend the usual limits of paper and toner. What attracted me to ZGB inna first place was the Kim Fowley come on placed smack dab on the front of issue #2 (I thimk!) which of course jiggled on my own nervous system. Dinn know who these other groups mentioned onna cover were, but with Fowley gettin' the top billin' I just hadda snatch this thing up for my own personal pleasure.

'n it was sure nice readin' whaddeva they did write about the guy---nothing as good as Richard Meltzer's Fowley tour diary in HYPE or even Bill Shute's Fowley article in INNER MYSTIQUE, or
even my own Fowley appraisal in the third issue of my own crudzine, but any Fowley press seems good enough for me to dwell into wo like...why naught?

But other'n that piece with the liner note reprints taking up a good portion of the coverage plus a cheapo reprint of Captain Beefheart's face from the cover of an old NME and the back cover snap of Little Phil et. al. from SQUARE ROOT OF TWO I can't fathom a dang thing about this Dublin-oriented (I think) mag. Which makes it cooler what with the made up groups and records of groups with names like Adonis Walsh and the Pretzels With Mustard and Paranoid Fish Fingers. It's good for a strange-o laff in some weird introverted way and I figure eh, if people couldn't "get" the comics that used to pop up in my own aforementioned 'zine then why the heck should I be able to "get" this???

Little did I know that there was at least another one of these, "blob 3" as it says on the cover and as far as the rest of this monstrosity goes it seems to taken over by a weird clip art comic based on a super badboy going by the name of "Nihil Man". It doesn't seem to latch onto any real extra-sensory meaning that I can digest that well, and as far as these paste pieces go Jay Kinney did a much better job of it in ANARCHY #2 which at least had this outta kilter, er, "anarchistic" feeling to it. Can't make out what these ZGB-ers are trying to say with this, but it sure reads a whole lot smoother'n some of the other outta the cracks and crevices 'zines put out by the standard type of people who put fanzines out an' given the phonies who are out there in blogland this does come as blessed relief.
I'm always on the hunt for old fanzines, especially those of the under-the-underground gonzoid variety not forgetting the post-MAD-era satire 'un's of the fifties and early-sixties which are all but impossible to find these days. Got any real 'un's, or good enough photocopies that you'd like to part with? Well then, howzbout supporting the REVOLUTION (in unbridled suburban slobbism) in your own personal way and SEND me some. Who knows, I might even send you some moolah in return!


Anonymous said...

By a weird coincidence, the Ian Penman you refer to isn't the NME Ian Penman - it's *another* Ian Penman who wrote for Sounds etc under the nom-de-plume Ian Ravendale because the NME one beat him to the punch.

There's an archive of his music journalism here, including a load of scans from Out Now:

Christopher Stigliano said...

As Catherine the Great once said, "that's a horse on me!"

Anonymous said...

The only reason I know that is that "the other Ian Penman" contributes a piece to this collection, which I happened to read last week:

I would guardedly recommend the book, even if it gives a wilfully distorted impression of the extent to which racial politics was central to the, uh, discourse maaaan!

JD King said...

These so-called fanzines should be outlawed. If only one life is saved, it will have been worth it.