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Vague 25 GBM A4

Vague 25 GBM A4

The Great British Mistake Vague 1977-9

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Vague greatest hits including the Ramones – Clash – Joy Division – Adam and the Ants – Bow-wow-wow – Siouxsie and the Banshees – Crass – Southern Death Cult – Viz – Psychic TV – Xmal Deutschland – Mark Stewart – Lydia Lunch – If…. – Situationists – Paris 68 – Angry Brigade – King Mob – Sex Pistols

A fourteen and a half years’ struggle against lies, stupidity and cowardice: a reckoning with the destroyers of the punk rock movement ‘The Great British Mistake: Vague 1977-92. The greatest fanzine in the world, in one handy volume. From the Ants to Crass, industrial culture to Euroterrorism, Viz to the Situationists.’ AK catalogue. The Vague greatest hits was published by AK Press, 22 Lutton Place, Edinburgh/San Francisco, and printed by Calvert’s Press Workers Co-op, 31-9 Redchurch Street E2 (who also did Vague 27-30). The cover design was by Jamie Reid and Mark Jackson and the launch was at the Leisure Lounge in Holborn.

‘It didn’t take long for Vague to make its mark on the post-punk scene. In the early 80s Tom established himself as Britain’s top fanzine editor and got to work full-time for Zigzag. Much of the swag earned from paid journalism was ploughed back into Vague and it subsequently became the first British fanzine to get into perfect-binding. Typesetting took a while longer, Tom always was eccentric. Tom’s warts and all coverage of the underground music scene during the early to mid-80s provides the most substantive record there is of the post-punk explosion. TV ran through virtually everything – positive-punk, negative-punk, gothic-punk, anarcho-punk, new romantics, industrial, Oi and mod revival. And there were other obsessions too – conspiracy theories, the Church of the SubGenius, cult films. Collected together in this volume are reports back from the nether zone by a man who’s done active combat in the battle known as life.

Tom’s gone weeks without seeing sunlight, he’s watched more telly than your average media pundit, sometimes three months pass in which he never ventures more than a few hundred yards from his home, and when he does go out it’s only to buy a packet of fags or sign on. He’s spent more of his life on the dole than working, living on giros and chips, and in his younger days he was better at ligging than Nancy Spungen. Yeah, Tom’s been to hell but he ain’t come back yet. So where does this leave us? Basically with some hilarious writing. There’s plenty of humour in here, a fair bit of enthusiasm and some apathy too. The excessively obsessive bits have been cut because this is the edited highlights. If you want to read the really extreme prose you’ll have to go back to the original magazines. But this selection will keep you wired for at least a year because it’s what the spirit of punk is all about – narcissistic fun. And there’s enough nihilism here to upset all those new age pricks who dislike negative vibes. Vague is the ultimate in hip reading for armchair terrorists.’ Stewart Home, Vague greatest hits foreword.

‘I can remember distinctly the moment I decided to start a magazine. It was a Friday morning in October 1981 and I was knocking off Mr Burnell’s 5th form physics class on my way to the Leeds Infirmary VD unit ward 12, if I remember rightly. While my mates were busy attempting to electrocute each other I was sitting in the cold outside the Islamabad curry house flicking through some homemade magazines I had found in an anarchist bookshop. I had never seen a fanzine before but Molotov Comics and Vague with their cheap printing, aggressive rhetoric, and chaotic design seemed an attractive option to a teenage big mouth with no concentration span…’ James Brown of Loaded, formerly of Attack on Bzag fanzine, Sounds and NME, upon receiving the British Society of Magazine Editors’ Editor of the Year Award.

‘At the time of The End’s ascendancy the music press was in decline and there was a genuine network of underground magazines that were snapped up by eager readers as they hit the record shops. There was Viz in its true infantile glory, Vague which was obsessed with Adam and the Ants, Alphabet Soup which was teenage porn from Lush members… and finally The End. Little else was worth reading.’ Stuart Maconie in ‘Football with Attitude’ by Steve Redhead.

‘Back in 1976, Mark Perry produced Sniffin’ Glue, the seminal fanzine. I asked him why he’d done it, and he told me he’d done it because he couldn’t think of anything else to do. My old Sounds colleague Sandy Robertson did the same in Scotland with his White Stains, Tony Drayton did it with Ripped & Torn, and thus inspired by Tony and after writing for R&T a few times, I did it myself with Rapid Eye Movement, and the tradition was continued by such notables as Mick Mercer and Tom Vague and hundreds – perhaps thousands – of others. Like me, Tom says he did it “for something to do.” Simon Dwyer, Rapid Eye.

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