Tuesday, September 25, 2012

About a month ago, possibly in a fit of madness, I was considering selling off my fanzines. I have hundreds and hundreds of them, and very little space to put them. Y' see, the thing is, I never read the things anymore. They used to keep me company whilst squatting on the porcelain chair, but those days are long gone. I rarely, if ever, buy the things anymore, too. There are probably a lot of good fanzines still in existence, though I remain ignorant of them. What happened to me? Blame the internet, old age or information saturation, but for me they are mostly a thing of the past.
I then sobered up, figuratively speaking, and decided that such an idea was a bunk. I have no qualms w/ selling off records or CDs I feel I don't need anymore - if such a move is regretted later on, it's relatively easy to purchase them back - but fanzines? Once they're gone, they're gone.... more or less. So, sticking w/ me they are. And that nonsense introduction brings me to the subject, the latest issue of Human Being Lawnmower drawn, wriiten and published by Brooklyn-based artist, Avi Spivak.
I'm lucky that my day job has me conversing and dealing w/ many good people from around the globe on a daily basis. Two such people I occasionally deal w/ are Miriam Linna and Billy Miller from Norton Records They don't require any introduction. In the latest shipment from Norton, which arrived in my place of work yesterday, they threw in a couple of free copies of the latest issue of Human Being Lawnmower (HBL), issue # 3, so I gave one to a workmate and took one for myself. Last night, I got all cozy, put on the horrendously cliched soundtrack of a few Back From The Grave comps (there ain't nothing horrendous about those comps besides...), and read the damn thing cover to cover. I'm convinced. I'm convinced that the fanzine isn't a dead medium, and I'm convinced, despite my admitted ignorance, that HBL is one of the best currently existing underground music publications out there.
It's slightly larger than A5 size, comes printed on quality, thick stock and is 70-odd pages long. Its focus is u/ground, punk-centric rock music from the last 50 years of recorded sound. That means you get some cool interviews w/ the likes of The Sidewinders (a previously unknown Boston power-pop band from the early '70s whose sole LP was produced by Lenny Kaye: he's interviewed, too); Cock Sparrer (interviewed is original member from the '70s line-up, Garrie Lammin, from when they were a punk/pub-rock-derived rock & roll band. They reunited in the early '80s to jump aboard the Oi! bandwagon); an article/interview w/ the New York Niggers, an obscure late '70s shock-rock punker outfit; an interview w/ Jay Mala, a NYC veteran from the '60s/'70s, who started out in the garage/psych band The Koala (whose Loise Cane went onto form to great Sir Lord Baltimore) in the '60s and went onto play w/ punk/rock/glam bands Revolver and the Magic Tramps in the Max's/CBGBs '70s; an article on the long-running Finnish rock band, The Hurriganes (again, previously unknown to me); a funny guide to some of Lou Reed's solo LPs; a Troggs comic (written by Billy Miller, drawn w/ Spivak's distinct style); an excerpt from a rare promotional Dr. Feelgood comic (!) from 1975; record reviews which cover everything from an Artificial Peace reissue to the Primitive Calculators; an interesting interview w/ a member of Index, another obscure one, this time from late '60s Detroit... and lots more besides. The writing is sharp and enthusiastic w/out ever devolving into sub-Meltzerisms or gushing fanzine-speak (two crimes I should've been locked up for many moons ago), and I found this the most educational music read I've had the pleasure of devouring in an eon. My enthusiasm for the music of MX-80, Von Lmo, Electric Eels and Simply Saucer remains unabated [you may think this is a dig at a certain person; au contraire, this man's publication introduced me to the greatness of some of these artists decades ago], although my desire to actually read anything more about them has shrivelled like old fruit. I've had my fix. New York Niggers? Try here. Early Cock Sparrer? I quite like this tune. The Hurriganes? Check out this killer. In some sense, HBL is somewhat like a cross between Black To Comm and Punk 'zines: it possesses the archeological/historical aspects of BTC w/out the rants, and has the snotty comics-&-humour style of Punk, except that the humour & comics within are actually "good" (nail me to the cross: I never liked Punk mag and its bozo/rockist/disco-sux angle). Last night I got myself an education, and what an enjoyable experience it was. Get it.


scum said...

I've got them stocked in my distro for any Melbourne/Australia people

Dave said...

What distro is that?

Code Red said...

Index are great, found out about them a few years back. You should check out their cover of "You Keep Me Hanging On", it's sublime.

scum said...