The City Is Ablaze


Music is so emotive. Most of my life experiences have a soundtrack And as I sit recalling tales of yesteryear to my 3kids there is usually a song, gig, album or band reference. My memories of youth revolve around sporting or musical events. First football match is equalled by first album. Sure I remember euro 88, wasn’t that lWhere i bought some ex singles and the same year fugazi came to Dublin?

My earliest memory of being a music fan is getting rid of a showaddywaddy album that was bought for me and taping elvis Costello and the attractions armed forces album. My older bros provided the playlist for me when I reached double digit years and I was the sponge absorbing it all. Sitting in my parents kitchen listening to Ian Dury, the pistols, the clash and just being enamoured by that energy. That was my primary education and after a couple of years I started getting my own records. Skids days in europa album was a Christmas present I remember and I got addicted. Any chance I got I would be listening. At night I would gladly go to bed and take out the transistor radio in the hope that there would be a half way decent reception for the John peel show. It was a struggle at times but well worth it as I discovered many bands that would help shape my life.

One such band was the ruts. I heard of Malcolm Owens death and felt it was such a dreadful waste of life, and then ian Curtis too. Why did this happen? My first fanzine, whose life is it anyway, was written with Malcolm Owen on my mind. Ah fanzines, they are such wonderful things. That was the second part of my education I could hear bands on John peel and then write letters to them asking them questions. My bands were all so accessible – I wanted to tell the world all about them. Don’t rely on hot press for your awareness check out all these bands they wouldnt touch. One of the first bands I communicated regularly with was the membranes. Their singer John robb was an energetic monster, they came to Ireland and played, I helped them along the way and was driven by johns enthusiasm. Other bands of the the time that felt so important were. Bands like crass, flux of pink Indians, the redskins – all singing about stuff that mattered and not bothered on waiting for others to do things for them.

And so I wrote about them and the along in me kept absorbing the written word of other fanzines. Once I saw some photocopied pages with text about politics or music I was quite willing to part with my cash. Letters were sent, any sterling I could get my hands on was smuggled into envelopes with soap stained stamps. There was an excitement each day as the postman arrived on the double. Oh yes there was 2 deliveries a day back then and I was getting mail each time. I must have spent a fortune on stamps but got to reuse any that could be cleaned and our network kept growing. Bands like the three johns, wedding present, bogshed, dandelion adventure, archbishop kebab, Dawson, dog faced hermans, pregnant neck etc. etc.were my soundtrack to these letters. These bands created their own rules and had fanzines like ablaze to champion them.

Reading this book is like going through my 7″ collection whilst flicking through fliers of hope gigs. Splintered and grim humour? Remember the band and zine? I sure do. The keatons? Charlie’s on a Saturday afternoon the weekend my nan tragically died. Ac temple? Charlie’s again. Babes in toy land, huggy bear the list goes on and on. I can’t begin to say how good this book is and how it is a vital document of life two decades ago. Please check it out and thank you to karren for putting it all together and in true fanzine spirit publishing it herself. Support the project, make it a Christmas present for yourself

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