Just a couple months back I was at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, flipping through some of the used magazines they occasionally get in there. 9 out of 10 of them are Mojo, Uncut, Record Collector, The Wire and so forth, interspersed with the odd & true fanzine. This time a pristine copy of Washington DC’s Vintage Violence #6 from 1978 was peeking through, calling unto me, and priced at a perfectly reasonable seven bucks. It is the fanzine we shall be discussing presently.
Whoever owned this before me – and I do have an idea, see below – basically kept it in shrink-wrap for 40+ years because it’s, well, EX/NM I guess you’d say. It’s a total hoot, too – very dated and wide-eyed ‘78-style “time to surf the NEW WAVE” exuberance and some outstanding non de plumes from the writing staff like Hank Blank, Mike Livewire and, uh, “Sirhan’s Victim”. DC in 1978….let’s think about this for a second. You folks all saw the DC punk documentary Punk The Capital, right? It’s absolutely worth watching if not. Before getting into Bad Brains and then hardcore, the doc zeroes in on the relatively microscopic pre-’79 DC punk milieu; think Slickee Boys and White Boy and The Shirkers, all of whom get mentions here. There’s even a Baltimore scene report with loads of excitement around Ebenezer and the Bludgeons, whose tracks would turn up on several Killed By Death volumes many years later.
Vintage Violence #6 is relatively unjaded and stands miles apart from the scene-is-dead moaning so typical of other fanzines from this year. Because it wasn’t! I’m elated to actually see these punks very explicitly and repeatedly linking their enthusiasms to The Stooges, MC5, NY Dolls and Velvet Underground; sure, that’s what we’ve been taught to expect, but more often what I see from 1978-era punk fanzines is a great deal of mocking of Iggy, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and so forth. Not here. Bryan Ferry, yes – he gets chucked under the bus pretty heavily, but I mean, this is what he was doing in 1978. Only real down note is that the mag interviews Billy Idol of hot new English band “Generation X”, but I suppose how were they to know, right? They also go wild over Nervus Rex, Tina Peel (an early “Rudi Protrudi” band) and The Erasers and interview each. Alas, writer Marlene doesn’t dig the new Cramps “The Way I Walk” 45 because it pales so poorly next to their live show. I can imagine.
And there’s a phone interview with former DC resident Jeff Dahl, right after he’s moved to Los Angeles, where he’ll become a productive member of Vox Pop, the Angry Samoans and Powertrip over the next half-decade. The interviewer, “Bebop”, is bemoaning how expensive the phone call is going to be for Dahl, who calls her. Anyone out there remember long distance? When I was going to frequent shows in Los Angeles in the latter half of the 80s, his “Jeff Dahl Group” was one I stumbled upon live a few times and whom my friends and I mocked quite unrelentingly.
So it turns out that aforementioned staff writer “Mike Livewire” was also the founder and editor of the magazine, one Michael Layne Heath, and you can read his complete story of how Vintage Violence came to be right here. As it happens, Heath now lives in San Francisco. I do not think it is a coincidence that a copy of Vintage Violence #6 therefore ended up in an SF record store before tumbling into my greedy mitts. I thank him for it, however it came to be.
2 thoughts on “Vintage Violence #6”
Curious to know of your take on the Jeff Dahl Group. He had a real following down here because of the Dog Meat LP, and I gotta say, I really enjoyed a few of his records (and re-listened recently and still dug them!). I was but a teen and I could see how his rock & roll bad-boy schtick might grate in the flesh, but I still stand by them!
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Hey Dave, it wasn’t for me…he opened a couple of times for the Lazy Cowgirls and it was unfortunately such weak tea compared to them, and full of all sorts of posing, “bad boy”-esque strutting as you say. He had Amy Wichmann from KAOS in his band, though – early LA punk band…!