Drunken Fish #1

That’s Drunken Fish #1 and only, as far as I’ve ever known. It’s one of the greats, especially if you really like records….and I do. This relatively small and limited magazine included a split 45 by Splintered and The Back Off Cupids, the latter of whom I believe were affiliated with “Rocket From The Crypt”. Yet if I ever had that record, I must have sold it decades ago, and I’ve thereby been left with a fantastic collector/accumulator/navel-gazer-centric sort of fanzine that I delightedly take for a personal spin every ten years or so. Today I’d like to tell you why.

Drunken Fish was published by Darren Mock in 1992. Those of you who were sentient and rooting around the underground in the 1990s know that he quickly turned his passions into a fine label that put out records & CDs by Bardo Pond, Roy Montgomery, Truman’s Water, Doo Rag, Lee Renaldo and all manner of other heavy hitters throughout that decade. That sort of commitment to wide-ranging, off-beat underground quality shines through in his magazine as well. I’ve revisited this issue often primarily because of Dave Stimson’s “Low Tech” piece, focused on seven of the rawest & most crude of total-genius 45s from the previous fifteen years: Mike Rep & The Quotas, O Rex, Screamin’ Mee-Mees, Tav Falco & The Panther Burns, Vertical Slit, Fuckin’ Flyin’ A-Heads and Solger. Solger! Anyone who wrote anything about Solger in 1992 was an instant hero to me. That single cannot be touched. I reserve a special ‘lil piece of my heart for the genre known as “shit-fi”, so this article was and remains solid gold.

I think this is also the magazine that got me to wake up and really pay attention to Lee Hazlewood for the first time. Once I got hooked on the guy I was all-in. Man, Hazlewood records were really tough to find for a while there! The original albums were going for way more than I could afford in the mid-90s, then all of a sudden these LHI Records CDs started showing up in stores late in the decade, and I snapped every one of them up. I thought they were bootlegs at the time. Anyway, Mark Sullivan of Adelphi, MD, who wrote this excellently comprehensive Hazlewood discography piece in Drunken Fish – please stand up and take a bow, right now. 

So you can likely already see the breadth & heft of this issue so far – but wait, there’s more. Mike Trouchon interviews loopy Englishman Simon Wickham-Smith, who’s living in Davis, CA while his girlfriend goes to UC-Davis (!). Johan Kugelberg covers various punk and noise rarities, and as in many of Kugelberg’s blathers, he pointlessly equates “rare” with “masterpiece”. I know that for years I’d chase down mp3s of material he’d raved about – i.e. records that he owned and that you didn’t – only to be forlorn, bereft and a little miffed that I’d spent precious time clicking & dragging when I could have been eating a hot dog or something. And Darren Mock himself pulls together a complete discography of Wales’ Fierce Recordings, who put out a Jesus & Mary Chain 45 that was just sounds from a “riot” at one of their shows (among many, many other things). 

It’s a real barn-burner over the course of its 24 pages. There are Discogs listings for the aforementioned record active as of this writing that actually include the ‘zine, if you’re interested!

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