In a box on a shelf in the dusty recesses of the Tin Towers I’ve got a stack of old fanzines, magazines and assorted paraphernalia that I never knew what to do with but which I somehow didn’t throw out. They’ve lain undisturbed for a very long while until quite recently and now I know why I kept them. You see I grew up with a father who was very proud of his RAF days during WWII and he hung on to odd things like battle dressings (bandages to you and me), a tin of tobacco (which he never smoked), magazines produced whilst he was in Burma, odd stuff like that. I was in awe of this time capsule as a pre teen and then dismissed it as old junk once I hit the rebellious years. Now, well into the age he would have been while I was still in awe of it I realise that it was a mixture of memories, confirmation that these events really had happened to him and some sort of validation that what he did was worthwhile.
And it’s the same for me – no-one is ever going to ask me ‘What did you do in the war daddy ?’ and my youth seems in contrast to his to have been frivolous, material, hedonistic and relatively threat free – I mean I might have dreaded the all too frequent run ins with local skinheads but it was always unlikely that they would end up throwing a hand grenade at me (which is what finished off my dad’s Burma campaign). So in lieu of a stock of war stories, some true and some no doubt exaggerated over time – ok, actually all of them got exaggerated over time until it got to the point where my sisters and I could recite the variations to each other and anticipate the next variation with barely a thought – I fall back on tales of gigs and all-nighters, meetings with my then heroes and nights spent on station platforms after missing the last train home – its hardly All Quiet on The Western Front but its as close to the truth of what is rapidly becoming as arcane and obscure an era as the second world war was to me as a kid. When I get to claiming I was at the 100 Club for the Pistols or participated in the Jesus and Mary Chain riots then I’ll know I’ll be as far gone as he was and hopefully my kids will stop listening (although they may have done that years ago anyway…..).
So anyway – in amongst the fanzines there are a stack of copies of Zigzag magazine. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it straddled the strange line between fanzine and legit magazine and, whilst it came out of the spirit of late sixties/early seventies love of the ‘underground’ it mutated into the champion of pub rock and then suddenly captivated by punk it became the only thing worth reading from ‘77 onwards. In my small home town there were only two of us in the know about this bible of half articulated anger and enthusiasm – I know this because my mum worked in the newsagents and (quite separately) it was only me and my best mate of the time who had it on order !
The writing is patchy, the printing sometimes a bit too messy to read but it had access to a good field of bands and performers and, looking back, it’s like a printed version of a John Peel show. I’ll save some of the interviews and pics for a later date but for now I thought I’d share a flavour of their (and to some extent my) obsessions from a copy published mid way through 1979 – their annual poll which reads like a repetitive list of most of the bands you’d ever want to see from the era (OK maybe not the UK Subs but they seem to have had a strange thing about them around this time). Plus my attention was caught by a small ad which sums up everything that was going wrong with punk – this was ’79 after all and the emergence of the bondage trouser wearing brigade in provincial towns like mine was reaching its tacky height.
Sixteen again ? No thanks. But this is where I’d choose to be if I was.
And for added atmosphere try this - the Vice Creems were pretty much the house band of Zigzag on account of them featuring Kris Needs, one of ZZs main writers. A prime example of powerpop punk. Shamelessly self promoted, they never got anywhere except in Zigzag polls....