This 1994 LA-based fanzine was well-positioned at the center of beating heart of that “third great wave of punk rock” we were yammering on about in an earlier post. McKinley Richard, aka “Rich” as I somewhat knew him, and Sandra, aka “Super Sandra” for some reason, were a couple who also played together in the band Jackknife and ran the Star Fuck label, while also putting out this magazine. It’s as reverentially 1994 as it gets, complete with a rip-off of the Crypt Records font to pair with Jackknife’s bow–down-before-your-masters rip-off of much of Pussy Galore’s je nais se quoi. (And I totally dig that font, Jackknife and this magazine, so don’t let my gentle ribbin’ convince you otherwise).
‘94 was a great year to be young, drunk and going to garage punk shows, let me tell you. We had the Purple Onion here in San Francisco and a heaping helping of middling-to-great blitzoid garage punk bands in our city the previous few years, from Supercharger to Monoshock to The Brentwoods to the Dwarves to the Trashwomen to the Donnas. Rich and Sandra in LA had their own band and I reckon there was a smattering of other decent ones of their ilk in SoCal, yet the real action was spread across the USA, with the Cheater Slicks, Gories, Night Kings, Fireworks, ‘68 Comeback, Doo Rag, Bassholes and many others who were releasing top-notch 45s circa ‘91-’94, not all of it fast-n-loud but very much descended from the finest in stripped-down 50s, 60s and late 70s rocknroll. You can bathe in the scene and read about it in Eric Davidson’s excellent We Never Learn! book. And while we may sometimes pretend otherwise, everybody loved the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, myself included. I think I’d get ear cancer if I tried to listen to them in 2023.
So Alright! #4 is living right at the nexus of all of this as it’s happening, with an onslaught of crazed records coming out plus an insane amount of live shows to wig out and lose one’s hearing at. The magazine is snotty, super-dismissive of alterna-rock (Jesus Lizard gets a nice raking over the coals, as does the city of Seattle) and is very much of its scene and of its time. I wasn’t particularly into Bratmobile while they were around (except for how incredibly magnanimous and forgiving they were when me and a few friends berated them w/ shouted Black Flag cover requests when they played SF’s Chameleon…and no, not “Slip It In”, I promise) but I’ll give Rich & Sandra credit for championing the feral rawness of some of the “riot grrrl” bands, many of whom, like Bratmobile, have aged better with time. They capture the whole sick scene quite well, and you can capture a mighty and informative whiff of 1994’s garage punk ambiance by taking a journey through this one.