ORGAN THING: A band called Death, proto Detroit punk rock, oh, and it was 29 years ago today, at a Hawkwind gig, that…

organ_issue151Friday Organ things? I make it that Hawkwind played Guildford Civic Hall on this very day, December 4th, 1986, some twenty-nine years ago today.  Which means that the first ever Organ zine went on sale twenty-nine years ago today.   A hand-made handppainted zine loaded up with artwork and mostly interviews with bands like Cardiacs and such. Actually, I can’t remember who else now, Twelfth Night maybe? There was five or six interview, oh yes, the very first interview Zodiac Mindwarp ever did. There was a whole load of print paste and spray paint on those hand screen-printed covers. 50p a copy (wonder if anyone still has one?). We took fifty along to the Civic Hall, and sold all them almost as soon as we got there (sold them out the back of an old army ambulance, the blue light’s might have helped). We printed 100, took half of them to the gig, took the other half to another gig in London the next day and then went off to buy more spray paint (for the cover) and  to print some more the day after that. We printed 300 of the first one, a time-eating life-consuming monster was born. Never really thought past the one issue, people selling diy zines were the thing back then, you couldn’t go far without someone trying to sell you a zine or a cassette album, it just seemed like it might be good to join in.

So we put out another one a couple of months later, another print run of 300, by the time issue three came around we were printing in runs of 1000, still hand-printing and spray painting all the covers though, compiling them by hand as well, frantically folding and painting before the next gig. I think it went on like that for the first thirty or so issues before we finally got them back from the printers all collated and put together “properly”. No more screen printing but the spray painting of each one went on (and on) for quite a few issues after that. .

organ_issue12I don’t know how many paper issues there were in the end, Organ took on many forms, some of them came out on cassette, issue 13 (or was it 14?) was all collage and art – that one confused a few, the concept of a 32 page art zine with not many words was not really a widespread one at the time.  We fly-posted one issue on the wall of a London venue, we printed another on a t-shirt, by the middle on the 90’s it was distributed worldwide with subscribers all over the globe, by the late 90’s it was a big glossy monster of a thing for sale in newsagents, and somewhere along the line it gave birth to a very busy record label, a radio show, a TV show (well before the days of YouTube),  regular Organ gigs and a whole lot more (i suspect we put on well over a thousand gigs along the way). The last paper edition came out somewhere around 2008 (or was it a bit later? I can’t recall off hand, i’ll check properly for the 30th birthday), Organ went on for sometime after that as a very busy weekly webzine before something had to give way to the flow of paint, Organ had become a distraction rather than the labour of love it originally was   .

organ_flyer1So today Organ is 29 and for the last couple of years Organ has just been a very busy blog (although the weekly radio show on Resonance FM still goes on).  and there has been the Cultivate side, which really is just Organ in yet another form.

Organ probably was the most consistent zine in the UK, certainly one of the biggest and probably the longest running, although you wont find any of that documented or acknowledged by those who police the zine scene these days, it was never considered that cool to proclaim prog rock cool or to positively cover heavy metal alongside the latest riot grrl band or what the Pin-Ups were doing. Championing bands like Cardiacs when no one else would (where were all those journalists who line up now to claim they always loved Cardiacs back there, all rather silent back there when their voices really were needed) was never going to make Organ cool  Organ was never about what was cool though, it was always about what was really going on, about what was really happening, and it still is…



Enough of the history, Organ has always been about signposts, and so, enough of all that,  here’s a signpost and some real history, a signpost to something happening on Monday….

A BAND CALLED DEATH –  There might be a few who may argue there were a couple of punk bands in Detroit before Death, The MC5 might have something to say on that one, The Stooges weren’t that far behind the MC5  and Death have always sounded more like one of the US hard rock bands of the time that a full on punk band – Montrose, Starz and such. The arguments don’t really matter, punk rock is a state of mind more than anything and whatever they were, they were/are a mighty fine band with the right punk rock state of mind. And a band with one hell of a story! The fact that they stuck to their guns and refused to compromise makes them as punk rock as it needs to be. Songs like Politicians in My Eyes certainly told it like it was (and still is).. One of the finest punk bands you probably never heard of, right up there with the best things Detroit kicked at us back there. If you’re in East London this Monday, go see the film (kind of like that its being show at the Victoria as well).



“Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death.
Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell…the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers”.

The film is being show on Monday 7th Dec @ The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, London, E8 3AS. Free Entry. Doors 7.30. Screening 8.30.  FACEBOOK EVENT




More of this tomorrow, unless we go to the bub and decide 29 years is just about enough…

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