THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: A NEW YORK ART
Edired bu Johan Kugelberg
Sure there have probably been lots of books published about The Velvet Underground. Possibly hundreds. Maybe even thousands. Wait a second, let me look on Amazon. There you go, 2,869 results. That’s a lot of books about one band from New York right there but if there was ever an act worthy of getting eulogized betwixt a pair of heavy duty covers on glossy paper to highlight just how mind-boggalingly good they were then the Velvets get our vote. And, if you are going to buy just one book about the band it might as well be a huge, chunky one with an exhaustive amount of unpublished interviews, images and ephemera that you can leave in your loo and then time how long people spend in there oohing and ahing over it.
THE JOYS OF WORK
Jake Saltiel lived for much of the 80’s in squats around Ladbroke Grove with various anarchists, criminals and drug addicts before winding up in Hong Kong and India where he found many other individuals of a similar bent. The body of the book is made up of a mix of snatches of prose and dialogue plonked next to italicized musings. It’s a bit like that guy in the wheelchair in Oz who breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience occasionally with lyrical bits of philosophy that offer a bit a meta-narrative. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of talk of Molotov cocktails and railing against the system, Old Bill and whatever else is at hand at any given time to make it worth a read.
PRISON PIT BOOK ONE
Johnny Ryan is our favourite person who makes comics in the whole wide world. That should be abundantly obvious purely by dint of the fact that we get him to draw a page at the back of the magazine each and every month. I am not going to lie, when we are putting the mag together every month it is Johnny’s page that I take a look at before anything else just so that I can giggle uncontrollably like a three year old for five minutes straight. Our blind faith in everything he touches turning to gold aside you really should go and pick up Prison Pit. You may remember Nick Gazin talking to Johnny about the book in the Moments Like This Never Last issue a couple of months back and Nick knows more about funny books than most people so heed him when he tells you that it’s the best thing Johnny has ever put his name to. It’s a violent, brutal and often truly disgusting black and white romp around what looks like the face of a moon inhabited by barbarian, wrestling aliens with regenerating heads and worms with cunts for faces. Sold? You should be.
Distort is a punk and hardcore ‘zine that comes out of Australia. We actually got sent issues 22 and 23 as well AS ISSUE 24 in a bundle and they were all totally great but #24 is basically a scrap book issue with a tonne of great cuttings from punk pillar to post. It is all photocopied and stuck on the page just like ‘zines are actually meant to be and ends up being like a proper paper version of that Fucked Up & Photocopied book that everyone went bananas for last year. You get fliers, interviews, reviews, photos and letters from the early 80’s through to right now, from Rocky Erikson & The Aliens to Cold Sweat. Distort is one of, if not the, best paper punk ‘zines that has come through our letter box in an age and issue 25 comes with an Extortion 7” in case you needed any more of an incentive to subscribe.
PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE: THE LOST ART OF THE VHS BOX
Edited by Jacques Boyreau
While coffee table books eulogizing the lost art of the 12” sleeve as a palette for creativity and oddity are a dime a dozen this may be the first book to pull together sleeves from the arguably odder world of home videos. Fantagraphics have really gone to town ferreting out films you are almost guaranteed never to have seen or heard of including Tentacle (a pre-cursor to Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus), The Toolbox Murders (“bit by bit he carved a nightmare!”) and Stunt Rock (concerning a stunt man who plays guitar in a rock band). As well as scanning in the back of the sleeves as well as the front so you get the blurbs which are often stranger than the covers (“Home safety can be fun with Gary Coleman!”) the whole thing is packaged in a slip-case VHS sized sleeve. It’s a shame Christmas has already been and gone as this would make a bullet-proof gift for anyone with taste.