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 #38 (A4, 40 pages, £7+p&p) Latest issue of the best zine out there and whatcha know? It’s another stellar issue of great bands, great commentary and great layouts. This issue is a bit different though; it’s the first since editor Welly decamped to the USA and the font is also larger. Is that an issue? Not really. I personally preferred the smaller font but that’s a minor quibble. Bands featured this time around include NEUROOT, NO PROBLEM and ACCIDENTE among others. There’s also a look at Ugly Pop Records while the Vaultage side looks back at Punk in the Midwest, Punk in South Wales and Hardcore in 1980s Toronto via the Tomorrow Is Too Late book. Art is represented by the photography of Nele Vandermaesen. As always there are the concise and occasionally caustic but always honest reviews and Welly’s own editorial. Oh - and it comes with a free NEUROOT 7”. Printing is top notch and, as with every issue, I always learn something new about older bands and discover new bands also. That should be the goal of every zine but Artcore seems to do it so much better and with so much ease. Fantastic, essential and the zine which I look forward to every single issue. Available here. (24.07.19) 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 #4 (A4, 102 pages, £10+P&P) “Strawberries for fucking pigs,” dontcha know!! Latest issue of the zine dedicated to THE DAMNED and named after the band’s former, official fan club. This issue is dedicated to the ‘Strawberries’ album era (1982ish) - an album titled after a comment by vocalist Dave Vanian stating giving new music to either journalists or the band’s own fans at the time was like giving Strawberries to fucking pigs. What a rotter!! Anyway, as always there is a bounty of cool content including a track by track rundown of the album by the Honorable Harry Flashman himself, articles on Claudia (subject matter of the song ‘The Dog’), Norman Green (subject of ‘Under The Floor Again’), Ronald Reagan (subject of ‘Bad Time For Bonzo’), the band’s appearance on The Young Ones, BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND, DOLLY MIXTURE, a 1982 interview with the band, plagiarism and some press cuttings from the era. In between that sumptuous smorgasbord are various charts, quotes and photos. Surely that’s plenty for any Damned Disciple? Well, no - hold your horses (or at least your fucking pigs) - because there are some additional pages from the previous ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ based issue including an excellent piece on the apocalyptic performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV show in November 1979 (which I actually remember watching with my Mum after purchasing the ‘Love Song’ 7”. I was aged but 10 - she was aghast at what she saw!! God, I miss my Mum...) and yet more press cuttings. As always, this goes beyond a shit-load of pages and includes a couple of badges, a couple of postcards, a strawberry-smelling sticker and a lovely strawberry coloured wax seal on the envelope. The layouts this time around are the best I’ve seen from this incarnation of Flashmag too - tighter, less wasted space and just snappier. I grizzled last time about it requiring a bit of proof-reading and, while this issue is better, there’s still a few errors - not that a cad like Sir Harry Flashman will worry too much about that!! It’s limited too, so you might have missed out. But do head over to Facebook and submerge yourself into the world of Harry Flashman and THE DAMNED. It’s a pretty fucking fantastic world!! (17.04.20)

GADGIE #34 (A5, 32 pages, £1+P&P) Hurrah for Gadgie! Every time I see a new issue I always know I’m going to learn something about some obscure Hardcore Punk band or record, I can rely on a quality drinking story and, without a doubt, I can guarantee plenty of genuinely funny, laugh out loud moments. Throw in DEBBIE HARRY and Planet Of The Apes obsessions and one’s day is complete! This issue we get recounts of a run in with Marv’s childhood enemies, the Cauliflower Brothers, a comparison between Marv’s ‘Chaos Pint’ theory and Ancient Greece’s symposiums, the long-lost Punk Classic being ‘The Sad Day We Left The Croft’ - a comp from the Outer Hebrides no less, and a pile of reviews that make it clear that if your band is not fast, loud and obnoxious, then it’s probably pretty fucking boring. If ya didn’t know, this is printed on recycled paper, has really basic layouts (two columns, with the odd graphic dotted throughout) and while the print job is not exactly fantastic, the text is clear and readable - and in Gadgie’s case, all that matters is the ability to read Marv’s words of wisdom and wit. This is a unique publication and even after 34 issues, still as fresh as the first time I read a copy some 20 years ago or so. (29.06.18) EMAIL WEB

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