Category Archives: Zines

The Real McOi!

The Eyes of a Foot Soldier

“Little ghetto buy, playing in the ghetto street, watcha gonna do when you grow up and have to face responsibility?” Little Ghetto Boy, Donny Hathaway

The following piece is a brief journey through an appreciation of punk and Oi! music as a fledging teenager to becoming obsessed with unblemished soul music as an adult. I can place a connection between the musical genres through honesty, integrity and rawness. The genres are both real street music that comes from the heart.

‘Oi! the Album’ was released in 1980 and led the way for a musical force that had been brewing away since the breakthrough in the U.K. of punk rock in ‘77. Sounds scribe Garry Bushell had been the flagbearer of the proto Oi! bands that led to him compiling the album. In ‘79 there was no bigger active punk band in the UK than Sham 69, The Ruts had just broken through, the Upstarts credentials were rising and the Rejects had shook the punk foundations with ‘Flares and Slipper.’ The substratum for Oi! had strong roots for new bands to take inspiration from to forge their own directions. These second wave of punk bands took a more direct rawer route from the streets than many of the art infused ones of the first wave.

I never swayed too far from punk between the years of ‘79-83 but Oi! music for me in 1980 meant unity, honesty, identity and the voice of my generation. It was also to me the spirit of the Carry On films, Henry Cooper, Minder, The Harder They Come, maverick footballers, the Beano, Irn Bru, On the Buses, Lager Tops, Slade, Budgie, jumpers for goalposts, Bronco Bullfrog, Tiswas, Fish Suppers, Roy of the Rovers, The Clash, Choppers, Dick Emery, Desmond Dekker and Kes. It represented me and my life!

When ‘Oi! the album’ was released I’d just broken through into my teenage years and had been hanging on every word written by Garry since making a decision to buy Sounds over the Enemy in 1979. At that time my family had recently relocated from England to one of the five Scottish new towns called Livingston. We moved there in the summer of ‘78 from a tight knit Nottinghamshire mining community where punk was of minor significance compared to Livi, which had a thriving punk scene. I found punk to be exhilarating, inspirational and soon became an avid follower of all things punk.

Making that decision to buy Sounds early in ‘79 was easy for me because they championed punk bands, both old and new. Forty three years later I’m still searching to hear new sounds, but with a much broader musical taste than I had back then. I produced a fanzine in the summer of 1981 called Oi! Division. I was aged 13 and was influenced by a variety of fanzines of the time that included Rising Free, Ready To Ruck and No Solutions. Growing up in Livingston was hard during those years because all new towns are built on three stages; building houses, attracting a population and then job creation. We moved there between stages 1 and 2. We all had to find our own entertainment and producing a fanzine was my escapism of boredom.

I had a bit of help through Garry and Lol Pryor supplying me with bands contact details. I’d then make telephone calls to the bands to either interview them over the phone or we would agree that a questionnaire would be sent. I included interviews with the 4 Skins, Blitz, The Partisans and local band On Parole in the first issue, which struggled from a poor print. Garry included a small piece on it in Sounds, which included payment details. I then started to get a healthy amount of postal orders and hard coinage via my local postman from across the UK, Europe and the USA. My postman once asked my dad what was in the sacks of letters that he was delivering. I also sold a fair few locally, mainly to friends at school.

The first ever interview that I did out in the fields was with the lead singer of a local punk band called On Parole. I interviewed Liam in Rabs Bar, Deans, Livingston. That was also the first time that I got drunk and also led to me getting involved in the band on a managerial basis for the next two years. At that point I was 6ft and had begun to outgrow schooling. I was looking for a different education and my attendance in my final two years was sporadic. I had a lot of fun over these years, but on the whole that’s a different story.

I thought with the second issue of the fanzine that I wanted to widen the horizon a bit to cover a broader selection of punk bands, so I changed the name to ‘A Way of Life.’ I decided to use drawings rather than images that I’d acquired from Sounds, like I had done with ‘Oi! Division.’ The overall print was much better because of this. The first two fanzines were printed A4 folded and saddle stitched. I included interviews with The Business, Infa Riot, The Last Resort, GBH and Peter & the Test Tube Babies.

The second issue of ‘A Way of Life’ and third fanzine was printed as an A3 folded and saddle stitched affair. I upped the ante with this one and used a local offset printer, which meant that I could use photos with the interviews. Overall it’s probably the most professional publication out of the four fanzines I produced. I included interviews with Theatre of Hate, The Outcasts, Blitz, Discharge, Chron Gen, Vice Squad, Conflict and more.

The final fanzine was printed in the first half of 1983. I’ll say that things were changing musically and I wanted to further widen the coverage with the inclusion of Twisted Sister, Big Country and Laurel & Hardy alongside The Business, The Exploited and On Parole. I used the name of ‘Streets Where We Live.’ At that point the family had been uprooted to Edinburgh, because I was getting into too much trouble. Punk and Oi! had been my survival mechanism in Livi, but in Edinburgh the street sounds had a different vibe. Things were evolving rapidly with many bands breaking up or heading into a new musical path. Blitz rocked Oi! music with the electronic vibe of ‘Second Empire Justice,’ Red Alert dipped their feet away with ‘Tranquillity’ and the Upstarts came out with ‘Still From The Heart.’ The 4 Skins with Roi folded their cards after a 3 date tour in spring of ’83, The Business split and Infa Riot jacked it in after a fabled short span as The Infas.

I spent six months living in Auld Reekie but decided in the summer of ‘83, aged sixteen that I would move back to England to live in Manchester. I spent a year living in Burnage, a long time before the Gallagher’s brought it to the attention of the world. I moved in with my eldest sister and this saw the biggest swing in my musical taste. I signed on for the year and got to see the Upstarts as many times as my giro would allow me, but my musical taste was further evolving. I remember being round a friend’s house called Doyle and reaching for his copy of ‘Bad Man,’ and he snatched it back saying that he hadn’t played that for two years.

The music of the streets in Manchester was heavily focussed on the emerging electro sounds mixed in with a strong soulful vibe. It was a slow evolution, but I started appreciating Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Whodini, Afrika Bambaataa, Newcleus, Shannon and D Train. I also saw the Redskins for the first time and they blew my mind with their soulful sounds. They were the gateway for me to start appreciating The Four Tops, The Temptations, Jackie Wilson and soul music. I eventually dug deeper with soul music, whilst favouring the little label singers that never got a break they craved for.

My argument is that I can place a connection between Oi! music and soul music. Singers like Roi Pearce, Mickey Fitz and Roddy Moreno sang every note like they meant it with great gusto and passion. Obviously tonally and the melodies are very much poleaxes apart from singers such as Otis

Clay, James Carr and Lee Moses, but the bond is tight with the working class roots. I’ll take any independent singer who gives their all over any major label puppet that has little or no substance. It’s always been the same for me right back to when I first got into music. I’d rather champion the underdog rising through adversity than a heavily backed major label dud! The rare soul scenes of northern and modern soul are comparable with the working class roots of Oi! music with both music and also fashion.

I never walked away from Oi! music, because I’ve kept my eyes on how the scene developed. The widening of the arena globally is something that Garry and Lol should be proud of. The fact that bands like Rancid, Agnostic Front and the Dropkick Murphys salute Oi! music, whilst touring globally to large audiences is a good thing. The fact that The Business, The Last Resort and Cock Sparrer are appreciated across the world is an amazing achievement through some difficult times. That’s not forgetting the newer bands that provide a different magic to the original punk and Oi! sound with Hard Wax, Lion’s Law, Crown Court, Slalom D, Himnos, All Out Attack, Bishops Green and many more because the list is endless. I’m finding myself listening to more punk and Oi! band’s these days because of the last couple of years events. The working class really need a voice after a systematic attack of suppression. There’s life in the old dog yet!

“In unity there’s each other and your friend becomes your brother and in the tyrant’s heart will be a lesson learned” Solidarity – Angelic Upstarts

Jolly

Optimmorning

Paul Weller poem from his 1980 zine December Child, first issue. The poem was written in 1979.

Optimmorning

This morning woke me with a magical kiss – October’s fresh
wind shook
out of a crumpled heap into a new frame of mind.
The orange rays of an autumns dawn penetrated my stoic blackness.

The hot breath released from within me,
lots of people I saw
I felt the warmth that a summer can’t always give you.

I felt alive
I saw culture
some said hello – others didn’t
it didn’t matter
I wasn’t worried
I said hello to all of them in my mind.

I felt cleansed
I didn’t feel bitter
I felt cleansed.

Paul Weller


Pressure Drop

Seminal reggae fanzines in the NME, 8 July, 1978.

Reggae Fanzine er, Shock

Vibrations work. Though emanating from Camden town, Pressure Drop, formerly Britain’s (if not the world’s) only reggae fanzine, operates on Jamaican time. The next issue will always . . . soon come.
The protracted and compulsive wait for the third issue of PD to appear – for it is true that the magazine has only roared twice in its three year life – was relieved at the end of last year by the appearance of Ital Rockers, an enthusiastic step about the current scene from Edinburgh’s Dougie Thompson.
Ital Rockers 2 has been on the ‘zine shelves for a while now and is in danger of being taken for granted. Help shift as few more of this ish and you may live to see Issue Three. Much of the current ish is taken up with an ample retrospective of Marley & The Wailers since ’73 and “Catch A Fire” – a trifle short on historical perspective but a sequel on the early years is promised. There’s a feature on Black Slate, some by now rather dated reviews, tribute to Edinburgh’s Ital Club, and an interesting look at the way reggae has influence the pop charts in the ’70s.
Help restore Scottish pride by voting Jock Stein at the next general election and sending 30p (including postage) to Dougie Thompson, 70 Milton Road West, Edinburgh, EH11QY.
Or from good fanzine shops everywhere, where you might also sight up The Best Of Rebel Music Volume 1, further panacea to relieve the pressure. Certainly this ‘zine is a Phensic for clumsy dilettantes with cloth ears.
Rebel Music is a collection of features and discographical delights that first appeared in Blues and Soul magazine, written by Chris Lane and Dave Hendley. Contents include feature/interviews on well ranking – if less applauded – talents like The Abyssinians, Earl Zero, Big Youth, The Royals and Burning Spear (where Winston Rodney gives good interview).
The visuals are rootsy to match, with plenty of charts, labels, and a formidable Greg Isaacs pose on the back cover. Price is 35p or 45p including postage from Dave Hendley, 27 Hewitt Avenue, London, N22.
Issue Three of Pressure Drop will, impresario Nick Kimberley informs I men, soon come, and in dreadest guise yet.

Doctor Bird

Mods Mods Mods

Feature on the pre-Quadrophenia mod scene, Jamming, number 8, 1979.

(There’s a lot of reasons for writing this; it’s no bandwagon-jumping cliché, but meant as a critical analysis that will say more than crap like that NME ‘special’; also to say where we stand.)
Mods Mods Mods

In late 1978, The Jam released their most critically acclaimed, and not surprisingly, most successful album, All Mod Cons. The label was a target, the writing in ‘Immediate’-style (old Small Faces label) and the inside cover was decorated with union jacks, Rothman packets, Ska records, Rickenbackers, and most vital, a scooter. Almost simultaneously, The Who got heavily involved in filming Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend’s rock opera about one mods life revolving around his scooter, suit, parka, birds, leapers, rockers, coffee and Brighton. At the same time, a few groups (particularly the Purple Hearts) and a lot of kids expressed annoyance at punk and it’s staticness (one day we’ll find out why), while other people were waiting to get into a new movement. The result, of course, a full-scale mod revival, though being taken from the above influences, it is – , targets, union jacks, Ska, Rickenbackers, scooters, parkas (& more parkas), suits, surprisingly not leapers, but still (just) the South Coast. And, of course, they all smoke Rothmans.
Most of them claim to be ’79 mods, rather than ’60s mods, but they still emblazon their parkas with ‘The Who’ & ‘Maximum R’n’B’. Talking of parkas, these ’79 mods might be interested to know that parkas were generally winter wear, or for riding their scooters, and they didn’t wear them to every gig at The Marquee or some such sweaty club. The rest of the clothes you probably know (there’s still a large split between those who get their suits at Carnaby Cavern, and those who get them at jumble sales), but what I’d give to see a ’79 mod use some imagination (ever heard of ‘(p)op art’? or just plain individuality…?)…
The current movement’s reason for being mods is simple – it’s an excuse for a small, grass-roots, close-knit movement again. And NOBODY can criticise that, as long as it works out that way…
The Wellington (just off Waterloo) is the best mod place on earth, as you’ve no doubt all heard (cynical git!). The first 2 times were mainly to see what the fuss was about. I saw the Merton Parkas one night, and The Chords the next – each time the pub was filled with just the right number of (mainly) real mods, with a friendly, warm atmosphere, plenty of kids (no concern for age), good beer, with bloody good groups for nothing. Two days later & LWT were there to film The Chords and Purple Hearts, and, you guessed it, it was a farce. Everybody thought the Purple Hearts were just soundchecking until they announced the next 3 songs would be recorded and their bassist was knocked out! Before the Chords were on, I could hear two obviously just ex-skinheads in parkas suggesting that any non-mods should ‘be booted out’. That’s a great movement you’ve got there, lads. Then The Chords took the stage to play a mere 4 or 5 numbers as crowds were kept back by a barrier, cameras pushed and jostled and The Chords tried to play. Alright, we weren’t paying for the show, but why didn’t LWT film a proper mod gig instead of creating their own false one?? Since then, the place has lost a lot of character and friendliness, and groups in general have moved out of the pubs and up to the Music Machine/Marquee circuit, along with South Coast gigs and all-day leisure centre evets, all seemingly mod festivals or no mod groups at all.
One example is the 3-day Marquee mod festival recently held. The first night was almost ruined by a crowd of uniform mods (ie posers), who thought that jumping on stage was and is IT (equipment got nicked at the Notre Dame Hall during the Mods set due to that). The Chords were luckier than other groups in that respect, and a full house had a great time with them. The third night was the opposite – half-empty, hardly anyone that would even call mods and a crowd at the front who were into the ’77 game of pogoing, pushing and kicking. It seemed like the end of a movement already. At other times you’ve been able to go to ‘mod nites’ at the Music Machine, or the ‘biggest mod event since the ’60’s, with prizes for best scooter and parka….

“If we started saying we were a mod band, it would be as bad as just another form of racialism.” Paul Weller, Jan 79.

And bigotry brings us nicely to the mod fanzines….
Maximum Speed is the one you all know – the first, the biggest and the bigotest. To them the world started last Christmas, apart from a period between 1964 & 1966: they rave over groups like The Secret Affair as if they’ve had no past whatsoever; they only review mod bands; and yet the group they decide to manage, Back To Zero, are the most un-mod group yet to call themselves mods; For 20-30p, you can read about mods, mods and more mods; and you may even be convinced that mod is the only thing that exists today.
Much better is ‘Two Returns To Brighton Please Mate – Oh And Two Dozen Leapers!’ The first issue was very cynical towards current mods (except some people believed the sarcastic comments) and had good, varied articles, with great drawings. But the only advance made on no. 3 (no. 2 was a strange non-event) is more pages. The photos are only full-page and the layout can make for very hard-reading. No. 4 should have a lot of colour, and the enthusiasm knocks the others sideways anyway. 20p from Orchard House, Court Yard, Eltham, London, SE9 5QE.
There are plenty of others, but most are only being sold at local gigs – not a good sign. Groovy Times is rather clichéd, filled up with mod gig reviews, and it doesn’t seem to have much future. Two more are 54321 and Face To Face, neither of which I’ve seen. The mod mags are quite varied; most are like normal fanzines, except Two Returns, but then as I said, it’s layout is it’s weakest point.
And that just leaves… the bands. (What makes a mod band? Noone knows. The bands mentioned are so either because they call themselves mods, or mods have adopted them.)
THE CHORDS, THE TEENBEATS and SPEEDBALL are all dealt with elsewhere, so…
The SECRET AFFAIR make me very bitter. How many of you remember Jamming’s 2-5, when I raved about an ignored bunch called the New Hearts? The spirit of mod was in them, which was one reason I really liked them, and which is also why they got caught up in the powerpop thing. It was also why they had no press at all, and that was why they split up. The core of the New Hearts is now the core of the Secret Affair, and now the mods are ‘in’ they’re on the cover of Sounds, and are one of the mod bands. The songs are much heavier than NH, Time For Action being the most memorable. Ian Pain (not Page, Mr. Bushell) uses trumpet for variety and their strong musicianship puts them one up on the other mod groups. I don’t know if they feel as bitter as me, but it will be a shame if songs like Young Boys, Here Come The Ordinaries, Revolution? What Revolution are left in the vaults forever because of media fashions.
The PURPLE HEARTS are undeniably among the leaders of the revival, but unfortunately, punks in mod’s clothing. ‘Jimmy’ and ‘Millions Like Us’ are 2 great songs, but that’s all they’ve really got. The rest of the set is like your local punk band (they once played London’s Burning 8 times in a row), and they actually tell people to “Stop pogoing”. Need I say more?
The MERTON PARKAS are getting a lot of good press now that they deserve. A host of good songs (Plastic Smile and You Need Wheels among them) and well-played oldies (notably Steppin’ Stone) makes for a good night out, though, and this goes for every mod band, very unoriginal. One thing I really want to bitch about is choice of oldies – Stepping Stone (Purple Hearts, Merton Parkas); Hey Girl (Merton Parkas, Chords); Circles (Chords, Teenbeats); The Kids Are Alright (Merton Parkas, Killermeters) etc etc. It’s a shame – there’s so many good, less well-known songs around.
The MODS, despite the name, are a band worth seeing. Hard and heavy, with a lot of good songs, they’ve had no press, but don’t believe all you don’t read & see them.
BACK TO ZERO, as I said, are the most un-mod mods around. The drummer’s a hippy; the bassist looks like a soulhead; the guitarist like he’s out of The Famous 5, and the singer is the only true in the band. I don’t give a shit whether they’re mods or not (I’m digging at Maximum Speed), except the music’s bad. Their songs all seem to concern boys, are very weak (only the singer keeps it together), and their version of Glad All Over is a disaster.
I planned to write quite a bit about SQUIRE and the KILLERMETERS but they’re not worth the space. They’re both cashing in sickeningly and the versions of Can’t Explain and Kids Are Alright insult Pete Townshend.
Other groups I’ve heard varying reports about, but the names get worse as they go along – THE FIXATIONS, STAN’S BLUES BAND, RICKY TICS, INDICATORS, LITTLE ROOSTER (ex-Cock Sparrer!!), LAMBRETTAS, VESPAS, SCOOTERS, DETOURS, LOW NUMBERS etc etc etc.
So that’s more or less the end of my article. Quadrophenia is due out any day now, and when it is released, the mod movement is likely to die a death. Mods are already fighting rockers on the south coast, and there are more posers than you would believe possible – it would be a shame if it only lasts 6 months. So now, go and see a mod band if you feel so inclined, you could see some good groups, you’re likely (but not likely enough) to enjoy a friendly atmosphere, and you should find some interesting people to talk to. But before running out to buy all the gear, ask yourself – what will be left in 6 months?

Southend On Zine

Southend On Zine; Fifty Years of voices and stories from Southend’s
alternative press and fanzine underground Kickstarter Crowd funder
launch March 2022.

With over 200 pages and featuring a wealth of interviews and dozens of
beautifully reproduced full-page covers and original artwork, this book
by Graham Burnett is both a history and a celebration of Southend’s
often forgotten ‘alternative’ and DIY culture, as told through the pages
of the fanzines, people’s papers and community magazines made in the
town between 1971 and 2021.

Mention Southend on Sea in casual conversation to anybody that doesn’t
live here and it’s not unlikely that the response will be a
condescending snigger about Kiss-Me-Quick hats or else some quip about
Essex Girls, White Van Man or reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex. But
there’s always been more to Southend than the often grotesque
caricatures of  diamond geezers, wannabe gangsters, fake tans, white
stilettos and tacky seafront nightclubs and boozers.

With interviews and oral histories covering seminal titles from the last
50 years such as Alternative Estuary, Alive and Kicking, Amon*Spek, Arse
Oats, Avant, Bang, Cheesy, Flowers and Beads, Grrrl in Print, Hard As
Nails
, The Heckler, Iliad, Level 4, Managed Retreat, Mushroom, Naked
Tongue, Necrology, New Clear Product, New Crimes, Noisy!, Precinct
Press, The SLAB, Strangehaven and Trawler, to name but a few, and
reproducing a wealth of covers, artwork and photographs throughout,
Southend on Zine is both a history and a celebration of ‘alternative’
Southend, as told in their own words by those who were (and in many
cases still are!) there; the self-publishers, counterculturalists,
community organisers, activists, agitators, punks, sussed skins, young
folk rebels, independent promoters, street artists, jester minstrels,
anarchists, feminists, avant garde festival organisers, graphic
novelists, indie entrepreneurs, poets, film makers, mental health
activists, MCs, free-jazzers, allotmenteers, Essex Girl Liberationists,
bioregional explorers, riot grrrls, psychedelic dream makers and all the
other change agents who have in one way or another been involved with
Southend’s ‘peoples press’, and have contributed to the story that makes
this town buzzing, diverse, innovative, radical and amazing…

Please support here

Hate And War

Zig Zag ditches the hippies and puts on bondage strides, as reported in the NME, 25 June, 1977.

Train-spotters out, P*nks in

While picking up this copy of NME from your friendly downtown newsagent did you perchance see a strikingly good colour pic of Johnny Rotten glaring at you from the magazine stand?
Were you taken aback when you realised it was that Abraham of the Fanzine, Zig Zag?
What the H*ll is happening to those hippies in Aylesbury?
Since its inception over 8 years ago, Zig Zag has never exactly made any money. Two months ago they put Cherry Vanilla on the cover and the issue sold out, despite being banned by W H Smiths.
Hope dawned. The following month they fronted with Richard Thompson – and created an all-time record for low sales. The penny dropped. Ergo, viz. and etc.
Well known William Shakespeare-lookalike Peter Frame founded Zig Zag, and has stayed with it ever since. Despite a recent self-confessed relapse into laziness, Frame most earnestly didn’t, quoth Frame, want to see his baby disappear.
“If Zig Zag is going to die, then its going to die like James Dean and I’m going to be at the wheel.”
Editor for the last three months has been Paul Kendall, but as Frame claimed, “He didn’t display the dynamic abrasive thrust that we expected.” (Dynamic? Abrasive? Zig Zag? – Ed.) “So the Editor’s chair has been taken over by Zig Zag’s resident p*nk Kr*s Needs. Fr*ame is working under Needs and is overjoyed at the prospect. (This sentence is open to misinterpretation. – Ed.)
Does this mean that Z*g Z*g is going New Wave?
Zig Zag has been new wave ever since it started. We were the first to write about Iggy, Kim Fowley, The Stranglers, The Flamin’ Groovies, the first to interview an ex-Sex Pistol – in Nick Kent – and” (he stressed) “the first to have the words Punk Rock emblazoned on the cover.”
Now that is something.
But what about the people ZZ used to write about? “I’m fed up with writing about boring old people who won’t talk to me. Besides, I’ve already written all the masterpieces about those old fatties.”
And how about the rest of those long informative pieces on people like Ron Wood?
“Ron Wood is Dead.”

Chalkie Davies & Ron Wood

Poetry Olympics Weller

The lead up to the 1981 Poetry Olympics in the NME, 28 November, 1981.

Weller yes, but no Jam at Poetry Olympics

Sorry, but Paul Weller won’t be joined by The Jam when he appears at the Poetry Olympics next Monday (November 30). Last week’s NME news story, reporting that the group would play, was based on some mis-information.
However, Paul will still be there to read his own poetry, as part of the three-day event being staged at London’s Young Vic theatre, starting this Saturday (28) with, amongst others, Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke.
The Weller set will last up to half an hour, and he’ll be sharing it with two collaborators in his Riot Stories publishing venture, Aidan Cant from Newcastle and Anne Clark from Croydon. Work by both guests has appeared in Riot Stories and December’s Child, and further contributions, including work by Weller will be included in a special Poetry Olympics issue of New Departures.
The Monday session at the Young Vic is now sold out.