Mojo: Issue #63, February 1999

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Format: Magazine

Publisher: JAT Publishing

Country: UK

Year: 1999

Price paid: $2.50

Purchased at: The Books End, Syracuse NY

 

An ongoing monthly publication since 1993, Mojo (Magazine) is a British periodical concerned with all things music, touting itself as ‘THE Music Magazine®’ (my emphasis.) Originally boasting a ‘classic rock’ focus centered around artist such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles, the magazine (by the publication of this issue, anyway) evolved more of a general rock focus which included contemporary breaking bands.

mojo_blondie4The band Blondie had lay dormant for well over a decade, but reformed in the late 90s. The album ‘No Exit’ was released in February of 1997 to great success, reaching #18 on the US charts and #3 in the UK, where it went gold. As a long-time Blondie fan I feel at least a slight bit of conviction when I state that the album- exception of the awesome single ‘Maria’- wasn’t really that good. Or at least not as immediate and edgy as their 80s fare.

Also released in February of 1999 was this issue of Mojo with a well timed cover story on Blondie. Mojo doesn’t dick around; Blondie’s article is a massive 20-page affair litter with a generous helping of images, both old and new.

Other than the stunning Blondie coverage, articles of relevance to this blog include:

  • Interview with Saffron of Republica
  • New Order- New year, new album?
  • 10 Questions for Alanis Morissette
  • The Theatre of Cruelty: John Cale and the Velvet Underground

Reviews:

  • Various- ‘1-2-3-4: Punk and New Wave 1976-1979’ (5-CD set)
  • Iggy and the Stooges- ‘Metallic K.O.’
  • The Selecter- ‘Cruel Britannia’
  • Nick Lowe (review of live gig)
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The ever-lovely Saffron displays her fine taste in music…

This is the only issue I currently have of the magazine, so my aesthetics evaluation is based on this loan example. The text is dense and packed with photos. Ads are minimal, and when they appear are music-related (usually album promotions.) The reviews section is massive and comprehensive. A lot of bang for your buck. My only real complaint would be that the magazine appears to be male-centered (only guys can make serious, meaningful music after all) as all but ONE of the 60 or so issues shown available for back order have a female on the cover (Chrissie Hynde, issue #11.)

 

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A sample of the live acts you could have caught in the first half of ’99

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In The City #5

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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?

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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.

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The Face: September 1981, issue #17

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Format: magazine

Country: UK

Year: 1981

Price paid: 80 cents

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

The Face, if I may over-simplify, is a magazine of style with a concentration (at least in these early issues) on music (75%), fashion (25%), and the various stories of interest to the early 80’s British hipster.

In this exciting issue-

face_sept81_4Music

  • The Human League
  • Cabaret Voltaire
  • Jah Wobble
  • Soft Sell
  • The Skids
  • Fad Gadget
  • Black Uhuru
  • Ian Dury
  • OK Jive
  • Vivien Goldman
  • Sly and Robbie

 

Fashion

  • Beat fashion
  • Tattoos: The Mark of the Outsider
  • The Zoot Suit: A Historical Perspective

 

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Advert for BOY boutique, letting patrons know that they carried Vivian Westwood’s ‘Seditionaries’ line of clothing…

Hot topics

  • New Psychedelia and beyond
  • Zine reviews
  • Preppy Power
  • The rise of the music video on tape
  • The Berlin Wall (article by Julie Burchill)
  • New York (article by Robert Elms)

 

Reviews

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There was an unwritten rule in 80’s music mags that you had to hate 99% of everything you review. Just to prove how cool you are. That being said, this was far from Debbie’s best work…

  • Debbie Harry- Koo Koo
  • Pretenders- Pretenders II
  • Wire- Document and Eyewitness
  • New Age Steppers- Action Battlefield
  • Escape From New York (film)
  • The Cannonball Run (film)
  • City of Women (film)

 

Pinups

  • Centerfold of a demure Siousxise by Joe Lyons
  • Kraftwerk by Anton Corbijn

 

 

 

 

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Bonus crossword (click to enlarge) if you’re really into obscure early 80’s pop culture trivia…

i-D magazine #15, March/April 1984

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Format: Magazine

Country: UK

Year: 1984

Price paid: $1

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

The link between fashion and popular music is not a tenuous one. Hell, whole books have been written on the subject. Arguably one one of the high points- a ‘nexus’ if you will- would have had to have been in London during the first New Wave period (1977-1985.)

id_march84aI have not the time nor skill to unweave the complex interactions between the two, but I will say that magazines such as i-D and The Face were barometers of cool back in the day, and valuable glimpses of times past today.

id_march84cStarted as a mere fanzine in 1980, i-D magazine was almost instantly recognized for its cutting edge use of photography and topography. Editor Terry Jones is credited with codifying the ‘straight up’ style of fashion photography; i-D staff would stop trendy people on the street and take head-to-toe shots of what they were wearing.

By 1984 the magazine was still shaking on its baby legs, as they had only made it to issue #15. The size of the magazine had changed several times during the years, by this point it had grown to a larger 8 1/2 X 11 3/4″ format. The edgy claustrophobic design of early issues remain however, with text crammed in every corner, to the extent that it begins to overlap and fall back on itself.

The cover is done in acidic blues, pinks, and oranges. Florescent ink was used; sadly these colors don’t scan very well and cannot be replicated onscreen so you’ll have to use your imagination when viewing the images in this post. But trust me, they positively scream. The cover model was an all-but-unknown musical artist known as Madonna. This was supposedly her first UK magazine cover; rather handsome values today reflect the desirability of this key issue.

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