Zines: The Power of Words - Don't Take 'em For Granted

The zines reviewed below are not necessarily new issues, but just the most recent issues that I have seen.  Some may be new issues, some may be out of print, so always contact the zinester before buying..  And remember, when sending off for ANY zine, include something extra for postage - OK? 
If you want your zine reviewed here, 
please send it to the address on the homepage.
AN UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO.... BUZZCOCKS: The Lasting Influence Of Pete Shelley (5.5”x8.5”, 48 pages, US$4.95+ P&P) Interesting 30 minute read here from Canadian Colin Burrows. The premise is simple: Burrows waxes lyrical about what the late, great Pete Shelley meant to him - from a fledgling attitude ridden Punk to the 40s-something journalist he is now. However, the idea of the zine started when Burrows had to write a piece about Shelley and invited various musicians to comment on what he meant to them also. The results are that the likes of Jon Ginoli (PANSY DIVISION), Vic Godard (SUBWAY SECT), Frank Portman (MR T EXPERIENCE) and John ‘Jughead’ Pierson (SCREECHING WEASEL) all offer commentary along with a host of lesser known musicians. It makes for a gripping read; nothing new is revealed about Shelley, it reads more like an extended obituary. Sexuality is covered a great deal with both intelligence and respect; understandably as Burrows has a gay brother. What does constantly come through is that Shelley was down to earth and humble, and the quality of his non-gender specific lyrics. Layouts are pretty sparse - just pages of text and no graphics bar what adorns the covers. I feel it could’ve been a bit more... I wonder if Burrows has any ticket stubs, or photos of Shelley he could have shared. As it is, one ardent fans probably need. (31.08.19)

Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227, USAWEB

ARTCORE #41 (A4, 36 pages, £10.00 + P&P) Running out of things to say about how great Artcore is. It’s the best out there, both visually and in terms of knowledge of this Punk Rock thang. This exemplary issue sees interviews with NAKED RAYGUN, MAU MAUS, WHITE STRAINS and more while the vaultage side sees WALL OF VOODOO (surprised to see this - but pleased), RIKK AGNEW and ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT along with the stunning art of JIM MARTIN which, besides an interview, takes up the whole back page.  And then there’s the fantastically packaged STUKAS OVER BEDROCK 7” that’s packaged around a separate zine in itself.  Artcore has, and is, faultless in both aesthetics and attitude, let alone a knowledge of this whole Punk thing that is beyond compare. Pointed and informed reviews along with an editorial pack this out.  Opps - nearly forgot the awesome layouts. Inspiring stuff; every time I see a new issue I feel I should get back to a print issue - even from rural New Zealand... Then I realise it would never be close to the quality of this. I always learn things reading Artcore, I'm always reminded of old favourites, I'm always inspired and thrilled. Long may Welly be inspired to continue. Boss Tuneage. (17.12.22) EMAIL WEB

DRUNK PUNK: Getting Sober Without Gods Or Masters (5.5”x8.5”, 56 pages, US$4.95+ P&P) Published by Microcosm, this is a fantastic and - excuse the pun - sobering read. It’s written by and tells the story of Tim Spock, a Cleveland native who became a roadie for BEATNIK TERMITES and developed into a respected promoter for most Punk bands that passed through the town. He also developed a serious drink problem. This lead to a failing reputation, fractured relationships, a broken marriage and the birth of his son. Come July 2012, Spock hops in a car, drunk, to see his girlfriend. Reaching for a cigarette, his car ploughs into an HIV Awareness rally and he hits three people, killing two of them. Since that day, he has been in prison. From there, it’s the story of how Spock got sober, not by using some kind of AA programme, but by his own determination. Over the course of his imprisonment, he has become a peer-mentor and Counselor of those in prison with addiction issues. It’s a cathartic finale, even though Spock is still in prison, but clearly demonstrates the positive power of redemption and the gratification of giving back. It’s written with stark honesty too; Spock didn’t see himself as a criminal until one discussion where the real ‘criminals’ point out that at least they haven’t killed anyone - let alone two. The zine is filled out with a few photos, but ultimately, it’s the narrative that grabs the attention - and grabs it firmly. One of the best ‘theme’ zines I’ve read in many, many years. Recommended. (28.11.19) 
Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227, USA.  WEB
FLASHMAG #5 (A4, 96 pages, £10+P&P) First thing that instantly captures the eye about this issue of the best DAMNED fanzine out there is the very stylish cover, which this time focuses on the era of ‘Phantasmagoria’ - an album that was derided by many older fans but brought a whole bunch of new fans to the band. Me? Didn’t do much for me on initial release, but it was a grower (bar fucking ‘Grimly Fiendish’ - possibly the worst DAMNED song ever) and has aged rather well. So, among this issue you get a track-by-track run down of the album from Sir Harry Flashman himself, interviews with EVIL BLIZARD, Martin Parrot (JOHNNY MOPED and SENSIBLE GRAY CELLS), Andy Johnson (who played in a few bands with ex-DAMNEDers Bryn and Roman), FOXY and DR AND THE MEDICS. Elsewhere there are write-ups about Captain Sensible’s release on Crass Records, the ‘Thanks For The Night’ release, Errol Flynn (?), Alice In Wonderland club, a brief look at the recent ‘Rockfield Files’ 12”, Eloise, NAZ NOMAD and ‘Give Daddy The Knife Cindy’, some live reviews including the tenth anniversary fan club only gig that was televised on Old Grey Whistle Test, Sensible’s ‘Happy Talk’, and a fun ‘What If....” THE DAMNED had been on the Grundy Show instead of the PISTOLS. It’s filled out with a plethora of other goodies, the usual DAMNED quotes, the usual spelling and grammar mistakes (although, much less this issue - have you employed a proof reader Mr. Flashman?) and visually this is easily the best - much less wasted space, sharper graphics, great humour. The only thing that was a tad disappointing was the fact there are no press cuttings from the era - would have been great to read a few reviews of the album from Sounds, NME etc along with some ‘at the time’ interviews. Minor quibble when there is so much other stuff here. Comes with a badge and a very fucking classy adaptation of what I think was the tour programme. This is probably sold out by now (and rightly so), but you can check to make sure on Facebook and submerge yourself into the world of Harry Flashman and THE DAMNED. It’s a pretty fucking fantastic world!! (25.03.21)

GADGIE #42 (A5, 28 pages, PDF, free) Marvellous Marv over at Gadgie Towers is on a creative roll during this COVID-19 lockdown it seems. Y’see, this is the second PDF Gadgie he’s cranked out in about a month (in fact, four in four months... You got a stash of speed at Gadgie HQ, Marv?) and, as always, it’s a riot of Punk Rock, football, films and reminiscences of halcyon days gone by - and it’s all delivered in Marv’s unique, witty and frequently sarcastic writing. Something that the PDF format does allow is a splash of colour; Gadgie has always had a basic layout - two columns, text and a few black and white graphics - nowt wrong with that given the writing is so strong. That hasn’t changed, but the odd splash of colour from movie stills and the Frank Spencer cover does make it a tad more eye-catching. Among the subjects dissected in courageous Gadgie candor are a bit of Marv’s employment history as a supply teacher, the 1985 film Better Off Dead and contributions from Paul Initonit (Horror films), Douglas Ritchie (lost Punk classics) and  record collecting with Mr T from Lights Go Out zine. And then there are Marv’s reviews of all that is fast and noisy. If you’ve never seen a copy of one of the best and longest-running zines the UK can offer, this freebie is an ideal introduction - then you can buy some back issues ya tight bastard!! Facebook should get ya the link. (30.08.20) EMAIL WEB

IS THIS MY WORLD? (A6, 8 pages, free) Eight pages is a bit of a misnomer as this is actually one sheet of A4 folded into quarters. It’s also put together by Alex who used to do the very excellent Jerk Store zine (and the equally excellent No Exposure reviewed just below), so while the page count may seem low, you know the writing is quality. And how can you really go wrong with a zine named after a classic JERRY KID’S album? One side is taken up with an interview with SWEEPING PROMISES - a band from Boston, MA that keeps the Boston, MA theme of the zine's title concurrent. The remainder includes a review of SAM MCPHEETERS’s book ‘Mutations’, a piece on HANK WOOD AND THE HAMMERHEADS and finally a small recommended listening and a wants list. Given the minimal space available, Alex has actually crammed a lot into these couple of sides and has managed to put his own identity into the writing as always. Write PO Box 284, Maylands WA 6931, Australia or EMAIL (23.03.21)

NO EXPOSURE, #4 (A5, 52 pages, AUS$3+P&P) This Australian zine is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. It’s got a great attitude; editor Alex has plenty of knowledge on what makes Punk Rock good and vital and writes with a direct bluntness and honesty that’s refreshing and very readable. The last 20 pages or so of this are taken up with photography with a multitude of bands cranking the jams live in Perth. They’re clear, up close and the print reproduction is good. Elsewhere there is a rather epic interview with NIGHTBIRDS (11 pages), a great (and thoroughly deserved) retrospective on the BLOODY GEARS, a bunch of gig and record reviews, a bit of a dig a CAREER SUICIDE who fucked about with an interview, a look at re-recorded albums and their superior predecessors (SUBHUMANS (Canada), YOUTH BRIGADE, CROMAGS) and probably my favourite part of the zine, Alex’s editorial. I said above his writing is direct and very readable and it’s here that it is strongest. Printing is good, text is done on a typewriter but the layouts remain sharp and crisp. Recommended in every way. (29.06.18)

PO Box 284, Marylands, WA 6931, Australia   EMAIL WEB

OUR FUTURE, Vol I Issue III (A5, 24 pages, £1.50+P&P) Third issue already from this theme-based zine. As with previous issues (#2 focused on ‘Grave New Word’era DISCHARGE), this takes a detailed look at Leicester, England based Hardcore band THE WANKYS. Have to say, I know little of the band but this zine fills in everything anyone would need to know. You get an interview with the vocalist (Mr Wanky), a look at the Downtown Noise Punker CD-r collection series, an interview with the drummer Mr Beat Meat, label honcho Dan McGregor of SPHC Records and also Bunta who created the band’s icon, Wankerman. Throw in graphics including photos, ads, record sleeve and even an A3 tour poster for the band’s UK tour with MOB 47 and this is as complete an introduction to the world of THE WANKYS as you can imagine. Layouts are clear and well printed (on shiny paper no less!) with great photo reproduction. Given Editor Rodney does this so frequently, and co-ordinates the Our Future record label, it would easy to imagine these zines are a bit half-hearted. How wrong that would be though as these are in-depth, delving and, most importantly, entertaining. Inspirational and unique. (29.06.18) EMAIL WEB

PUNKSAROUND Vol.3: The Story Of Minot, North Dakota Punk 1989-2000 (5.5”x8.5”, 32 pages, US$3+ P&P) Written by Microcosm founder, Joe Biel, this neat little zine tells the story of a Punk scene within a town not instantly recognised as Punk Central - Minot, North Dakota. It mixes the personal - Beil’s own memories of the town as he passed through in touring bands - with the historical. The historical includes a bit of general Minot history before introducing us to the characters, bands and promoters that helped put the town on the map. Bands include GRANDMA’S WOODEN SPOON (the band responsible for what may have been Minot’s first Punk gig), NIXON’S PUPILS, NOBODY’S CHILDREN and JESUS among others, although really this is much more about individuals who nurtured a fledgling scene and constantly found new places to play, such as The Liberty, The Golden Gym and The MC3. Layouts are basic, but there are a number of photos of bands and individuals from the era. Biel’s text is cleverly woven together, allowing his personal memories and admiration of this small-town scene to enhance the factual detail. Anyone who has ever been in a relatively small town will relate to this; the search for like-minded souls, the joy of discovering something happening that’s on your doorstep and no doubt, individuals who mirror those in this zine. (14.10.19)

Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227, USAWEB

TAKING THE LANE, #14: BIKEQUITY Money, Class & Bicycling (4.25"x6.5", 126 pages, $9.95+P&P) This crosses the border between zine and book really, at least aesthetically. If you are looking for music, you’re out of luck also as this is primarily about bicycling, gender and class - and includes a recipe. It’s not all from the one view point either as this is a multi-perspective collection of essays/ columns from 18 different contributors, the most notable being Microcosm founder, Joe Biel. There are some points of interest but I have to confess, it’s not the kind of reading I got a major kick out of. I appreciate cycling is an equalizer and cyclists are passionate about it, and I certainly appreciate the social and political aspects that are put forward - and if you’re a full-on cyclist, this could be for you. I’m not and found some of it a bit laboured. It’s solidly bound, looks good with a full colour cover and carries its message well. (29.06.18)

Elly Blue C/o Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227, USAWEB