I've been bemoaning the lack of quality mainstream magazines in the UK for a couple of years now. With a few exceptions they all pander to the lowest common denominator and deal in being the printed version of 30 second sound-bites it seems. Thirty or forty words with a big shiny photograph of the latest cutting edge star that's designed to grab the attention of who? Is that really what a review is?
I've seen press releases from labels and then the reviews that follow and quite often they are just a condensed version. There might be a talent in being able to do that, but I'm not so sure.
So where are our Lester Bangs and Kris Needs?
Where are the men and women who are going to offer an alternative to the magazines that serve no other purpose than to decorate the walls of a teenagers room?
Well the answer can be found within the pages of Vive Le Rock.
I held back from commenting when the first issue came out just in case it was a flash in the pan and failed to get to issue two, but I'm very glad it has as this isn't even just a repeat of the excellent issue one, but a huge jump forward that encompasses a wide range of bands that should provide something for everyone.
There's a few things that leap to the fore even from the flicking through stage. The first is that it really does grab the punk ethos and slam it in your face.
A feature on Thin Lizzy rubs shoulders with Charlie Harper while The Bay City Rollers share some space with Social Distortion and it is obvious that as an editorial concept Vive Le Rock are embracing the eclectic and passionate world of the fanzine and bringing it to the mainstream.
This is what I argue fervently is the real strength of punk. Its ability to seep into everything and break every rule as it sees fit.
Secondly is that you can get a sense of a great deal of love for the subject matter at hand. They could run a banner ad saying “for the fans by the fans” and no one would be able to challenge them on it.
Issue two really is the dogs bollocks. There, that's my condensed review.
Although I guess I could add a bit more.
Okay are you ready for this. Here's what's in it.
Dropkick Murphys, New York Dolls, Greg Dulli, Bob Wayne, While Lies, Off, Polly Styrene, Kris Needs, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, The Stranglers, Nouvelle Vague, The Ramones. Chiswick Records, Adam Ant.
Wait a minute till I grab a breath.
Wolfmen, SLF, Michael Monroe, The English Beat, The Levellers, Bay City Rollers, Justin Townes Earle, Charlie Harper, James Williamson, Wire, Social Distortion.
Are you getting the idea yet?
NMA, Thin Lizzy, Cro Mags and Squeeze are all featured and then there is the album, book, live and DVD reviews.
If that isn't enough there is even a cover mounted CD that has some exclusive tracks on it from The Duel and Roger Miret.
Shit I'm staring to sound like I'm on the payroll for them, but if you can't shell out a fiver for this then I can't help you. In fact you're a lost cause.