I didn`t discover "Boy`s Own" until 1989, when a work mate`s brother lent me a copy (he also lent me his Nightwriters in return for a loan of my 12 of Willie Hutch`s "Brother`s Gonna Work It Out". Oh, the trust / naivety of the times). Twenty-three years later I still find myself somewhat baffled by the behaviour the fanzine induced in me. It became a bible, a sacred document. The text poured over time and time again, like Madonna`s Kabbalist script, as if by merely holding it I would "know". Index finger running down lists of records, titles mouthed silently. In time I grew to be a tad resentful, because I knew I was being an arse. Owning the fanzines, the records, the ephemera, does not mean you were there. It`s a Red Badge of nothing. One should be content with one`s own memories, not go stealing Farley`s.
How did a fanzine produced by a group of friends, largely taking the piss, became a rule-book for Acid House and clubbing (in the capital at least)? I am sure they weren`t looking to recruit an army of sheep. I came to think that the need to prove / pretend you were there at the "start" was down to the drug (helped hugely in this view by Matthew Collin and John Godfrey`s "Altered State"), a side effect, and maybe, in part it was. Memorabilia, snow-storms and key chains, for those first few impossible highs. Like Robby Krieger damaged in the wake of Morrison`s excesses, a lot of us went a long way out, some of us never quite made it back. It would be nice to have something to show for it. But when Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton published the collected "Boy`s Own" fanzines in 2009, in my relative sobriety, one thing was very clear, and obvious, the enthusiasm. Goodness knows the writing`s not Proust, or even Lester Bangs, but they got off their bums and did something. Chronicled something that they cared about, and looking at the fanzines again tonight, it took a lot of fucking effort. It wasn`t posting a Youtube clip or Soundcloud link, it was interviewing, typing, photocopying, stapling, going round the shops and distributing, putting an opinion out there rather than a regurgitated press release. And maybe that`s what the obsession boils down to, enthusiasm, on the part of both the authors and the readers, that and the simple desire to map and understand a life-changing event. The aim here isn`t quite the same as that with the "mixes" we put together to accompany Graham Smith and Chris Sullivan`s book( We Can Be Heroes). We`re not really trying to provide a soundtrack to you reading the fanzines, what we are trying to do, year by year, (where possible) issue by issue, since Boy`s Own, Weatherall and Farley, took Alfredo`s Balearic Beat baton and ran with it, is to chart a course of musical change.
I`m not sure it`s fair to call the selections from the fanzines that went on sale in `86 and `87 playlists, as they are cross-genre top tens, not necessarily aimed at the dancefloor, from Messrs. Eckel, Farley, Mayes and Weatherall, but they provide an essential starting point. A prologue.
In `86 there was Def Jam, Go-Go, Rare Groove, Industrial, remixes from Zeus B. Held and the Latin Rascals, Pop based on drum machines and samples, New Order, and even some House.
In `86 there was also R.E.M., Martin Stephenson & The Dainties, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Billy Bragg, The Smiths and this (please ignore the dodgy film it was penned for and just listen):