Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Book Review: The Best Of Jamming - Selections & Stories From The Fanzine That Grew Up

There had to be more to life than this: the path well trodden and the one-way road to adult Armageddon. And for an excitement/idealistic driven bunch of then just turned-teenage schoolboys there was a way out of the everyday mundane.
Credit Tony Fletcher

That it would end as all that become institutions do; in acrimony and debt, was some eight years in the future. 

For now, back in the schoolyard with a spark of an idea and a visionary with the match to start the fire, there came In The City – a six page school printed music-based mishmash of enthusiasm and passion that took three months to furnish with idealistic musings.

So began the almost decade-long journey that is laid out by author Tony Fletcher's The Best of Jamming!: Selections And Stories From The Fanzine That Grew Up, 1977-86 (Omnibus Press). 

Tony Fletcher (Word In Your Ear)

Among the many music obsessives who took it upon themselves to use their bedrooms as prospective magazine HQs, there was one schoolboy-born publication that gradually, and often painfully, rose to the top of the pile.

That was Jamming!. Over its 36 editions it became a 'proper' magazine. Its layout became professional and enticing, Distribution rose to the tens-of-thousands and it was widely available to not click but collect.     

In his foreward for the book Billy Bragg states: 

"For an adolescent desperate to create their own identity after a childhood dominated by their parents" taste, music offered the most accessible means of self-expression. 

"When the expectations of adults began to chafe, music provided an alternative set of values that pushed back against the conformity of curriculum and careers advice." 

The Jamming! Fanzine Podcast: Ep. 1

The seed of the fanzine's birth came via the unexpected typewriter of Jon Savage and an article he wrote in Sounds about fanzine culture.

From the second edition, In The City became Jamming and soon the blind belief of youth hatched the ambition and skills to grow the fanzine into something that was not only pleasing on the eye, but also thought provoking and increasingly culturally informative.

Early interviews had an air of combativeness. For example, John Peel must have seemed so old .. sample question: Have you ever thought of retiring? After an answer in the negative, the follow-up question asks who does he think could/should take over his mantle? 

The Jamming! Fanzine Podcast: Ep. 2

And then came Pete Townshend who gave - to a publication he liked the idea of but had never read - detailed and thoughtful answers

But yes, the subject of age and whether he was still relevant reared its head .. and for a youth driven publication like Jamming, quite rightly so.

With that in mind the publication added colour while dropping its early obsessions with The Jam, The Who and all things both Mod and mid-seventies rock - different writers meant differing genres.

In came the likes of Adam Ant, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Crass and Scritti Politti. A wonderful piece from Fletcher on the mid-eighties miners' strike offered the first of many hints that he was destined for greener journalistic pastures.

Jamming! finally folded after issue 36, after Fletcher's vice like vision had been impaired by a stint in the much loved band Apocalypse, and a spell as unpaid manager of the Paul Weller funded music label, Jamming!

The magazine's chain of command broke down, backers got cold feet from empty wallets and Fletcher walked away. The time to end it was right, but the magazine's legacy remains untarnished. 

Tony Fletcher's 'The Best of Jamming! Selections and Stories from the Fanzine That Grew Up, 1977-86' (Omnibus Press) is a lesson in the collective power of youth, and belief from those who saw how the cultural plates were starting to spin in different directions and that it was time to polish off the cutlery and sit down and talk the talk to those who were connected with others of a similar mindset. 

We all grew up, but didn't we have a nice time!

To purchase Tony Fletcher's 'The Best of Jamming! Selections and Stories from the Fanzine That Grew Up, 1977-86' (Omnibus Press) CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley


Head First Acrobats return to the Brighton Fringe Festival with two spectacular shows, Railed for adults, and PreHysterical for children.

Hastings Fat Tuesday have teamed up with The Marina Fountain and The Prince Albert to bring Primal Scream to the White Rock Theatre for a special warm up show ahead of their Screamadelica live dates.

After collaborating with Noel Gallagher on the single Where's My Family Gone, Brighton-bound Andrew Cushin picked up the support of another iconic rock 'n' roller when Pete Doherty signed him to his Strap Originals label.

Building on the sample-based approach of their classic albums Since I Left You and Wildflower, but stepping boldly into new terrain, We Will Always Love You is the latest offering from Brighton-bound The Avalanches.
Credit Leigh Simpson

Barrie Kosky's highly anticipated new production of Poulenc's powerful opera Dialogues des Carmélites will premiere next summer at the 2023 Glyndebourne Festival. It was originally scheduled to appear at the event in 2020 before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tens of thousands of fans will unite in Brighton to watch the World Cup 2022 on huge anti-glare screens with a world-class sound system, food, drinks and a proper big game atmosphere. 

Actor Michelle Collins chats ahead of her starring role in the comedy thriller Cluedo, the new play, directed by Mark Bell (The Play That Goes Wrong), which visits Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday 13th to Saturday 18th June.
Credit Jim Stephenson

Syrian architects Marwa Al-Sabouni and Ghassan Jansiz will bring a unique architectural element to this year's Brighton Festival by building a temporary community arts venue on Hove seafront in the form of a traditional Arabic arcade.

Brighton-bound Canadian songwriter and musician Leith Ross shared their new single We'll Never Have Sex, alongside a self-directed and produced video, after finding viral fame. 
Credit Olivia Rose

Mercury Prize 2020 winning Kiwanuka looks inward and out, across widescreen sonic landscapes constructed in recording studios in London, Los Angeles and New York, and provides a showcase for the honey-poured mahogany of Michael Kiwanuka's voice.
Credit Summer Dean

Before Dylan Thomas drank himself to death at the tender age of 39, he and his wife Caitlin (née Macnamara) were the great lovers who boozed, binged and brawled their way through the bars of Britain in the 30s and 40s mixing with fellow artists and the bohemian in-crowd, living on tick, behaving scandalously and being forgiven. Their marriage was stormy, passionate and explosive.

Comedian Jason Byrne - who brings his new show to The Old Market, Hove, this October - has not only had his heart unblocked and been given a new lease of life, but his whole career has been unblocked too! 

The artist Maggi Hambling will present her first exhibition at Glyndebourne at the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival, with support from Marlborough Gallery.

Soulful Edinburgh-born newcomer Brooke Combe will be support for Miles Kane when he plays Concorde 2, Brighton, this week.

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