These two out-of-town rock magazines have two things in common: First, both of their current issues feature Joe Strummer on the covers and, second, they both remind me of Etch with money.
The Big Takeover is a New York-based personality showcase for its founder, publisher, editor and all-around punk-rock guru Jack Rabid. It’s fun, filling and far-reaching, from its big, reverent Q&A cover story on Strummer to a crowd of single-page band profiles, loads of reviews and – get this – another long Q&A with Brian Wilson. This hefty issue also covers Guided by Voices, Echo & the Bunnymen, L7, Fountains of Wayne, the Donnas, the Delgados and Bomp! Records’ 25th Anniversary, along with Superchunk, the Avengers, the Promise Ring, the Zombies, Naked Raygun and more. Lots of thank yous, tributes, personal memories and sentences that begin with the pronoun "I" make the Big Takeover seem like an insider deal, the personal diary of a rambling music maniac. But at least it leaves its mind as wide open as its mouth.
With Strummer, Punk Planet (of Chicago) makes no departures from the Q&A approach. Joel Schalit (listed as "Minister of Information") conducts and writes an interesting interview that begins with a wholesome, if telling, lead: "I was 10 years old when the Clash’s first record came out." An informed, brief Clash history follows, leading into an easy and enlightening dialogue with Strummer that gets down to details that would make any diehard fan drool. Punk Planet’s concerns, however, go beyond the rantings of audiophiles and bleed into an article on natural medicine and ear infections. It’s quirky, but nice. Also landing on Punk Planet this issue: The Need, Merge Records, Lungfish, fiction, an article called "Fuck Work" and more heartfelt scrawling about film, other fanzines and books. It’s clever, often cool and a burning reminder that there are still a few believers left.
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