In The City #5

inthecity

Format: Fanzine

Publisher: Compendium Books Record Counter

Country: UK

Year: 1978

Size: 8.25 X 12″

Editors: Peter Gilbert, Francis Drake

 

“When I saw Billy Idol arrive at the dressing room door with tomato ketchup sticking to his hair, nose, ears, etc… I thought it would somehow affect his performance this evening…”

If the number of music fanzines in late 70s Britain (and London especially) are any indication of their significance in the music scene then, well, they were very important indeed. The amount of DIY publications was truly inspiring.

Named after the song “In the City” by The Jam, if the fanzine had an edge it was it’s (often) full-color covers that certainly would have caught the eye of trendy shoppers back in the day. With a cover price of 25p it was significantly more expensive than the larger publications such as Melody (15p) maker and NME (18p.) As far as fanzine’s go it had a rather long life at 16 issues (1977-1981) with at least one ‘special’ (Ultravox!) issue that may-or-may-not be part of their issue-numbering system.

This issue contains:

  • A scathing commentary on Patti Smith and her snubbing of the fanzine-level press
  • Review of the major music tabloids (see inset)
  • Generation X interview (yes, an actual interview!)
  • A scathing review of an ‘Automatics‘ live gig
  • Review of a Generation X live gig
  • A page devoted to TRB (Tom Robinson Band) consisting mostly of lyrics to ‘Up Against the Wall’
  • Steel Pulse– their credibility, relationship to punk, and audience
  • Radio Stars
  • Ultravox!– Major fan-service article; the next issue of ‘In the City’ was most probably the Ultravox! special issue
  • Single reviews (see partial inset)

The publication is not dated, but based on the single reviews for the month and their release dates (Elvis Costello’s ‘Stranger in the House’ was released on March 17th 1978 and the Spex ‘The Day the World Day-Glo’ April 21st) and the quick publication window afforded by the fanzine format this issue #5 was most probably released in mid-April.

On January 17, 1978 the Pistols played their last show. Rotten was out of the band and members Cook and Jones flew to Rio to work with Ronnie Biggs on further material. On October 12th Nancy Spungen is found dead. 'The Great Rock and Roll Swindle' soundtrack isn't released until the 24th of February the following year, with Edward Tudor-Pole (of Tenpole Tudor) and Malcolm McLaren himself providing some vocals. Based on an assumed release date of April 1978 this cartoon predates Sid's death by nearly a year. Although portrayed as a negative trait here, McLaren's adaptability and seemingly effortless ability to take risks is an attribute that would serve him well in the future...

On January 17, 1978 the Pistols played their last show. Rotten was out of the band and members Cook and Jones flew to Rio to work with Ronnie Biggs on further material. On October 12th Nancy Spungen is found dead. ‘The Great Rock and Roll Swindle’ soundtrack isn’t released until the 24th of February the following year, with Edward Tudor-Pole (of Tenpole Tudor) and Malcolm McLaren himself providing some vocals. Based on an assumed release date of April 1978 this cartoon predates Sid’s death by nearly a year. Although portrayed as a negative trait here, McLaren’s adaptability and seemingly effortless ability to take risks is an attribute that would serve him well in the future…

Aesthetically ‘In the City’ fits the template of the late 70’s music fanzine, other than the aforementioned color cover. Photocopied, single-staple at upper left corner, crude cut-and-paste DIY layout, shamelessly nicked logos and images- nothing but the best! Strangely twelve (of the fourteen) pages are single-sided, the last two double-sided. The second sides are in both cases ‘ads’ for LPs (Generation X and Automatics, respectively) so they may have been last-minute additions?

inthecity3

Nice contemporary view of the main music rags of the period (click to enlarge.) Interesting that such a high importance would be put on gig dates- these were living, breathing documents of crucial importance to youth of the day. No internets back then don’t forget; I can see many a fan hanging out at the record shop with nervous agitation waiting for the latest issue to drop. Sounds and Record Mirror discontinued publication in 1991, Melody Maker merged with New Musical Express in 2000, New Musical Express is the sole survivor with primarily an online presence and hard-copy circulation of less than 20,000 as of 2012.

inthecity4

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