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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)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
"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 iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
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
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
the iJamming! book review:

It's less a matter of marketing genius than common sense for the reprints of Sniffin' Glue which make up the second half of this book to be on cheap newspaper. Because looking through the back issues of the Glue in the 21st century is like listening to much of the punk music it writes about: it only makes sense in context. And Sniffin Glue's context was of an urgent handbill to be digested at a gig, not a glossy magazine to be left on a coffee table. Sniffin' Glue was not so much badly written as barely written; grammar was non-existent, layout was haphazard, headlines were usually just written in felt tip, swearwords were often used in lieu of a reasoned argument. . .all of which gave Sniffin' Glue its urgency and relevance. As its founder Mark Perry reminds us in a lengthy published conversation with his former partner Danny Baker, back in 1976 there was no music subculture in the UK. The weekly music papers were rightly derided as being 'establishment'; the sole TV show, the Old Grey Whistle Test, was plainly elitist; John Peel on Radio 1 was hidden away during the very hours you might want to actually go out at night; and the only monthly magazine, if you could find it, was an obscurity called Zigzag. That was it. There were no fanzines. There was no 'yoof tv,' no MTV, no cable or satellite TV, no videos. There was no alternative venue circuit, just pubs and concert halls. There was no Face, Q, Mojo, Loaded or Select. There was no XFM; even Capital Radio had only just come into existence. There was no network of indies, no information available about self-pressing or self-distribution of records. And most certainly, there was no Internet, e-mail or MP3s. Underground music could only spread by word of mouth.

So when Mark Perry, a teenage music fan toiling as a bank clerk in south east London, fell in love with the Ramones and then saw that they were being slammed in the music press for all the reasons he thought made them so great, he started a fanzine to redress the balance, naming it after the Ramones song 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue'. Within the space of three issues, Mark had connected the dots from the Ramones to the Flamin Groovies, through Eddie And The Hot Rods and the Damned, and onto the Clash and the Sex Pistols - and Sniffin' Glue had become the mouthpiece for the British punk underground in the process. Punk germinated underground just long enough for Sniffin' Glue to become indispensable within the scene - it had already put out five issues by the time the Pistols swore at Bill Grundy on live television and punk exploded as a media concern. As Perry and Baker note of contemporary so-called subcultures, even that short a period of gestation won't happen again: "everything is now exposed to the masses instantly."

"Sniffin' Glue was not so much badly written as barely written; grammar was non-existent, layout was haphazard, headlines were usually just written in felt tip, swearwords were often used in lieu of a reasoned argument. . . all of which gave Sniffin' Glue its urgency and relevance."

Left: the cover to the 100 Club Punk Festival Special, September 1976.

Viewed so many years later, Sniffin' Glue reads like someone's diary: all very personal - and at times very petty. Quite early on, Mark gets bored with putting out the fanzine and starts Step Forward Records, simultaneously forming Alternative (to) TV. He hands the Glue's reigns to his pal Steve Mick, doesn't like the results, sacks Mick after one issue, and puts a picture of himself, Danny Baker and Harry Murlowski on the next front cover. Almost immediately, he's bored again, handing issue 11 over to outside contributors, in which Mick Jones issues a communiqué that reads like a rough draft of the lyrics to 'Complete Control' while, several steps ahead of him, journalist Sandy Robertson makes the extremely salient point that "The Clash represent something which those in power have seen before, and can be easily assimilated, controlled, dealt with and even incorporated into existing structures. (There's always a place for a token revolutionary.)"

By the end, Sniffin' Glue proves as incestuous as the establishment it set out to derail. The final issue (#12) finds Mark Perry, A&R man for Step Forward, putting his latest signings Sham 69 on the cover, while using all profits to press up an Alternative TV flexi-disc as a promotional give-away. Various artists of the Miles Copeland Illegal/IRS/Step Forward stable are over featured, and there's a full page ad for the major label cash-in compilation 'New Wave.' Bringing the story of rock'n'roll rebellion full circle, the last page of this last issue finds Danny Baker railing against the small-minded punks at the Roxy who had cheered the news of Elvis Presley's death. Baker had enough sense of history to know that without Elvis, there would have been no punk rock. The audience were too busy
thinking of the Clash song '1977': "No more Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones... " Both sides were right, but with the punk movement so openly divided, there was nowhere for Sniffin' Glue to go but away.

Viewed so many years later, Sniffin' Glue reads like someone's diary: all very personal - and at times very petty. Quite early on, Mark gets bored with putting out the fanzine and starts Step Forward Records, simultaneously forming Alternative (to) TV. He hands the Glue's reigns to his pal Steve Mick, doesn't like the results, sacks Mick after one issue, and puts a picture of himself, Danny Baker and Harry Murlowski on the next front cover.

The first section of this 'Essential Punk Accessory' sees Mark offer a clear-headed account of his hectic year in the spotlight, concluding pointedly that "When the Police became the world's biggest group in 1980, I thought 'My God, what have we done?'" The second section, the conversation between Perry and Baker, is more contentious - though presumably that's a good thing. Baker makes the point that "It is so necessary for teenagers to be misunderstood and not liked, marginalised," which is accurate enough, but just one of many ways he intimates that punk existed merely to express his own teenage generation's frustrations, without longer lasting or more international results. Baker seems particularly pissed at punks for pretending they didn't listen to the early 70s' progressive rock music, when he insists they all did. Mark Perry could hardly deny his own roots: he had written a gushing letter to Disc about an ELP concert he saw in 1973, which was of course dragged up by the music papers to embarrass him at the height of punk. (Nobody ever caught me on the letter I wrote to the Melody Maker in the mid 70s sticking up for Pink Floyd - who I went on to despise for a lengthy period! - but then not too many of the establishment writers were themselves criticized for jumping horses in mid-stream either. . . And I can plead being an ignorant 12 year old.)

Danny uses these skeletons in the cupboard to scoff at "This idea of the year zero, where the whole punk thing arrived fully formed and rejecting every bit of music before it." Mark is more balanced, stating that, "I know loads of people who were younger than us, who got into music in 78 or 79 and they really don't know those albums before punk. They completely took on that thing - punk Year Zero. Really weird - they believed it, which we secretly knew was a terrible nonsense." The thing is that the "kids" (which, as Mark notes in our conversation, is the category I fell into) needed to "believe it" for punk to truly make a difference. Like Mark, I had been "into" progressive rock, had written letters in support of ancient dinosaurs, and had seen the Who play at Charlton Stadium in 1976, a concert as far removed from the kids as anything until Oasis at Knebworth. Like Mark, I knew more about music history than lots of people twice my age. And yet punk still did feel like Year Zero to me. And it was precisely because punk WAS treated as year zero by so many people that new music could be made with no preconceptions, no rules or regulations. By clearing away the excess debris of the mid-seventies, it became possible to build music up again from the very barest of foundations, resulting in all manner of fascinating designs and constructions. To continue this analogy, some of the new buildings were too fragile to survive, some were too complex to get around, and some were only intended as temporary structures to begin with. But many of us had the time of our lives exploring their every nook and cranny, and it would not have happened without the likes of Mark Perry and Sniffin' Glue doing their bit to bring us back to basics.

Another piece of revisionist history to contest is this infatuation with working class backgrounds. Perry and Baker seem to believe that coming from a council estate made them authentic punks regardless of dress, and that by default, everyone else - especially the suburban 'Bromley contingent' that includedSiouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Billy Idol and Tony James - were fakes. But if punk was all about voicing the frustrations of youth at the time, that frustration was certainly as prevalent in the suburbs as the inner cities. If Mark Perry could claim boredom with his bank job in Deptford, how did he think it felt to work in a bank in Bromley, where there was, literally, nothing happening? It's no wonder these people flocked to the punk movement going on in central London - it gave them an opportunity to escape their mundane satellite home towns. As for the contention that a lot of these people were "roughing it" because they had decent homes to return to at night, this misses the point. Baker might have looked forward to going home to his loving parents on the council estate, but the kids from the suburbs could often think of nothing worse than going back to their sterile environments and fractured families (leaving aside how incredibly difficult it was to get back to the suburbs late at night). Given the choice of a comfortable middle class lifestyle or of immersing themselves in Britain's suddenly exciting youth culture with all its attendant risks, a lot of suburban kids chose risk - and never looked back. Baker's obsession with portraying himself as an 'authentic' voice of the working class has been annoying for so many years that I've lost count. With the wealth he's earned as a professional barrow boy, he should stop trying to pretend he knows anything about the class struggle and shut up about it. It's tiresome.

But it all makes for a great read, a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in one of music culture's most vibrant periods. And if none of the above is enough of an incentive to invest in the Glue compendium, the quality of photographs - primarily those of Jill Furmanovsky - should clinch it. The very early days of the punk revolution may not have been televised, but they were at least photographed. And written about. Especially in Sniffin' Glue.

Read the 2001 interview with Mark Perry. Read the 1978 interview

Read other comments on the Sniffin' Glue book and order by mail.
USA readers.
UK readers.


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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2001.