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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
grows up and dumbs down
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
The full iJamming! Contents
the iJAMMING! 'chat':
As the first sentence of my mission statement makes clear, Mark Perry was a major factor in my deciding to write about music - though as the following discussion reveals, it turns out he never wrote the pivotal words I've associated him with! Such is the power of mythology - especially that which we create for ourselves. Regardless, by launching the fanzine Sniffin' Glue in 1976, Mark P, as he was then known, provided the nascent British punk rock movement with its first print forum. By the time he packed it in, a year later, Sniffin' Glue was selling 15,000 a month and had reached 'Bible' status. I never actually owned a copy of Sniffin' Glue - the last of twelve issues was published just before I started getting involved in any kind of music 'scene' - yet it was always a blueprint for my own ambitions; I don't think there was a fanzine editor in the UK in the late seventies who didn't want to emulate Sniffin' Glue's independence and influence.

Mark gave up writing about punk music to concentrate on performing it with his band Alternative TV. But a series of inspired singles and a monumental debut album only succeeded in propelling him beyond the understanding of his audience. Disillusioned, he embraced the same hippy prog-rock that punk had initially railed against, and by 1979 was playing free festivals at Stonehenge alongside Gong spin-offs the Here and Now. A contradiction? Most certainly, but Mark was never afraid to contradict himself; he admitted as much when I interviewed him for Jamming! back in 1978 and continued to do so, in my Brooklyn home office, in January 2001.

Alternative TV, 1977: Mark Perry (second from left)
and Tyrone Thomas (far right) are still playing together.
So what was Mark doing in Brooklyn? Good question. Though it passed below my radar, Mark has reformed Alternative TV over the years for occasional gigs and even more occasional releases, while softening his principles to the point of playing the old songs again. Offered the chance to bring the band to New York City for a few gigs, he simply said yes. Never mind that the shows were during the early January hibernation period, that there was little advance warning, minimal publicity and no release to promote, Mark just seemed happy to finally play New York twenty-plus years after becoming a fan of the city's punk scene.

All very odd, I've got to say. And none of it odder than one of their gigs being on a Saturday afternoon at a semi-obscure record store just down the street from me. If you'd told the nervous 14-year old kid interviewing the rather recalcitrant 21-year old Mark Perry for a little known fanzine called Jamming! back in 1978 (click here to read that interview) that 22 years down the line, Alternative TV would be playing New York - for the first time - and that the kid would also be living there, in Brooklyn of all places, and they'd be having tea on a Saturday afternoon before ATV played the local record store...well it goes without saying I wouldn't have believed it. Nor would I have wanted to.

Still, the prospect of interviewing Mark again prompted me to pull out my copy of his band's debut album The Image Has Cracked. As is often said, Alternative TV were post-punk before there was such a thing as post-punk, which means that what sounded confrontational then sounds 'merely' influential now. Certainly it was a brave album for its time, opening with a deliberately jarring prog-rock jam that quickly morphed into that section of the ATV live show where Mark passed the mike to the audience, all of whom shunned (on this recorded occasion) the opportunity to say anything of any consequence whatsoever. Mark and the band interpreted this punk ignorance as giving them carte blanche to play whatever they wanted, from their punk-pop theme song 'Action Time Vision' to the Zappa-like 'Why Don't You Do Me Right?', the raucous 'Good Times,' the effects-ridden (and highly effective) guitar instrumental 'Red' and the dark, avant garde, live recordings of 'Still Life' and 'Splitting In Two.'

The CD reissue (click on cover for more info) benefits enormously from inclusion of the early singles 'Love Lies Limp' (an ode to impotence released as a flexidisc with Sniffin' Glue'), 'How Much Longer'/'You Bastard,' my personal favorite 'Life' (with its classic line "life's about as wonderful as a dole queue"), the offbeat 'Life After Life' and its flip side, 'Life After Dub.' Even the group's farewell single, the completely mad 'The Force is Blind'/'Lost In A Room' stands the test of time. Throughout, Perry displays an abundance of wit, suss and foresight, a distinctive (if distinctly tuneless) voice, a willingness to experiment with musical forms (especially reggae), and yet an ability to pen rock anthems. Think of a Joe Strummer some ten years younger, and you have an idea of Mark's potential at that point.

Yet Perry chose not to make the most of his musical merits or communicative skills, continuing so rapidly down the road of experimentation that he left his entire audience - and circle of friends - behind. The group's second album Vibing UP The Senile Man was widely derided. Mark reacted by breaking up Alternative TV, forming the even weirder Good Missionaries - and the rest is obscurity.

Almost. If it turns out that Mark has not been as idle as I had imagined over the years, neither has he been willing to promote himself back into the spotlight. Is that a fault? Or a quality? It's a little of both, and it makes Mark Perry who he is - as influential a figure as the first generation of punk had to offer, and yet someone who hardly suffers for being recognized in the street on a daily basis. Someone who passed up Clash-like career opportunities to make a step forward with his own music, but who can now be found trying to make something of a career out of his musical past.

That includes assembling a Sniffin' Glue compendium which reprints all twelve issues alongside some great photographs from the era, a personal look back at his year-long stint in the eye of the storm, and a lengthy conversation between Mark and his former co-editor Danny Baker. (Click here to read my review of the book.) Having never successfully sold anyone (including, if I'm honest, myself) the idea of Jamming! as a similar compendium, I'm stuck with archiving my magazine on the web. Beyond that, I hesitate to suggest our publications have too much in common. Sniffin' Glue was a short-lived shot in the arm, 100% punk from start to finish; Jamming! was a long-lived evolving enterprise that compromised to survive, perhaps better befitting the term 'new wave'. However, talking with Mark, reading other interviews with him, it seems we have far more in common in our outlooks to life and music than we have any differences. If nothing else, our experiences gave us a reason to spend part of a cold January Saturday afternoon talking about them.
Okay, click here for our 'chat' (I talk too much throughout for it to be an interview!)
And here for the original typed transcript of the interview with Mark and Dennis Burns for Jamming! 6, 1978.
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