This will one day be a zine, which I hope you know by now. So in keeping with this theme, as a continuation from the poster post, and perhaps encouraged by the Going Gaga split I talked about yesterday, this post will be about records that come with zines of some form. The theme is zines but really it's just an excuse to talk about a couple records specifically. Wouldn't it be neat if I reversed this power structure and released a 7" with this zine? I'm thinking about it and exploring various roads that could lead to this ambitious goal. But onto a few zines!
First of all, there's the Going Gaga comp. I talked about this yesterday, but essentially this comp comes with a short zine in which each band designed a page. A pretty awesome concept, but to be honest I think some of the bands could have put a bit more effort into it. Come on guys, create a brand, take lessons from Stalin and create a cult of personality. There are avenues leading to mind control beyond your musical format.
Next up, while were talking about bands that have already been covered, is the Dead Kennedys. Specifically the album in question is Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. There's quite a bit to say about this from a release stand-point. It was the last release to be approved of by Jello, and thus the last to be released on Alternative Tentacles, before all the legal bullshit between the band (as if they hadn't already suffered enough in the courtroom already). At first glance it seems like a sort of greatest hits compilation, but it is actually different versions of album songs, or completely new songs altogether. The title follows the theme of their whole work, as a compilation would, and ties in nicely with what was said earlier about the poster for Fresh Fruit. Apparently this album has gone gold in the US (500,000 copies), as well as gold in the UK (100,000 copies) making it their best selling release. Woah, this is mind blowing to me. That is an insane amount of records, for any band, and if I had to guess, I would have assumed that Fresh Fruit had landed the gold status.
When I bought this at Vertigo, I bought it for two reasons: it was the Dead Kennedys, and it must have been an older press because it was on Alternative Tentacles without a bar code. When I got somewhere safe and opened it up, surprise after surprise began to hit me. With all the excitement at Vertigo, I didn't even check the status of the record. Boy oh boy, what a sheen, perfectly clean. But what's this? Oh no big deal, just a twenty year old zine hidden inside the sleeve entitled Domestic violence week begins. Just from the front page you know this zine is a hilarious slice of satire. "A sunny day when bodies cam from the sky," and in a small typeface "Perhaps if I just read this very nice magazine it will all go away." Each page of the zine gets a page, with some of the more important songs getting a full two page spread treatment. Like the poster, its mostly collage art to go along with lyrics, but this time it's very much focused song to song. The page for "Holiday in Cambodia" is labelled as a special travel feature. This zine was printed on some newsprint sort of paper, so it has yellowed with age, and it smells like vintage. This was not the last surprise of this dandy of a release though. Ol' Jello himself thought that 15 tracks on the LP weren't enough, so the original release gets a flexi thrown in. This is the only flexi in my collection, and having never seen one before, I wasn't even sure what it was. But it plays, and it plays great. The songs on the flexi share a page in the zine. The final touch is the original mail order card still intact, white as the day it was printed.
Next up is a compilation I found this summer in Montreal at Sonik Records along with a bunch of other great LPs. Another Canadian Comp with a zine, Smash the State Volume Three is a compilation of Canadian punk circa 1978-82, i.e. when Punk ruled hardest. This was released on No Exit records in 1999 I believe. This series started as a book of an entire discography of Canadian punk from the era, and included a bonus 7". They then did 3 volumes of comps, but these comps were different from the KBD comps these bands were initially associated with because they were not single songs, but the entire 7", and they were authorized to be reproduced. It is clear a lot of work went into all of these releases. According to the zine, volume three was over three years in the making. How do you even track down band members from that long ago? Who holds rights to the music? It's hard enough to come by these releases as it is, and even these comps are scarce.
Volume three features eight bands, including two from Ottawa. From Ottawa it feature the Bureaucrats Feel the Pain and the Red Squares Ottawa Today other bands are Gentlemen of Horror, Siggy Magic and the Hey-Hoe Band, Allies, Discords, Reaction, and Da Slyme. The zine is extremely in depth and impressive, as I mentioned, a lot of effort went into this. I'll focus on the parts about Ottawa bands. The Bureaucrats, get two pages with a quick history, basically explaining how punk they were, especially since the Sidwell brothers were from England, and lived there for the '77 explosion. So no, that is not a fake accent. Neat fact: 1,000 copies of their single was pressed, but apparently they only printed off a few hundred sleeves. The Red Squares get three pages worth of press, with their own quick history. Members of this band were also in England for the punk 'splosion. Their single must be impossible to collect all the variations of. 500 were pressed, but the labels were reversed. Some labels were xacto'd and reglued on the proper sides. The cover was supposed to be red on a green background, but it came out orange on yellow, of which 250 sleeves were made. 80 were made with a completely different sleeve advertising the B side rather than Ottawa today on colour xerox, and 50 of these were sent to England. Who knows what the rest look like.
Recently there's been some talk about a Bureaucrats reunion, and someone was wondering if these two bands had ever played together. According to this zine they surely did, multiple times, even outside of the city. It can be seen from the short histories provided that there were many links and similarities between the bands aside from their geography. Both were in England for the birth of Punk, both were considered house bands for the Rotters club, and both seem to have singles without sleeves. Well I guess this comp and zine excuse were a great way to talk about Ottawa punk in a strange abstract way.
I was planning on going over some other records with zines, but I took up more space with these ones than I had anticipated, so this will suffice.
On a final note, another old Ottawa punk band, The Action (who are listed in the Smash the State discography) are playing two reunion shows on November 28 and 29 at the Dom.