steve gardner

  • nfh1Noise for Heroes Complete 1980-83 Vol 1
    Noise for Heroes Complete 1988-91 Vol 2
    Noise for Heroes Complete 1991-2004 Vol 3
    Edited by Steve H. Gardner

    Imagine a decade like the 1980s without zines. For the uninitiated (because they weren’t born then) zines were self-produced magazines, often photocopied and sometimes hand-drawn, focused on subjects that the authors were passionate about. More often than not, the topic was music. 

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of zines in a pre-Internet world. Along with college radio, they powered the American underground music circuit. In Australia, they connected underground bands, and fans across a country of disparate cities and gave insights into scenes overseas in a way mainstream music papers could never reflect. In Europe, they were oxygen for a culture considered low brow that fought to find an audience. 

    Zines were lapped up by people into punk, high-energy and left-of-centre music that didn’t manage to gain exposure elsewhere. They were the epitome of DIY culture, making the passion of others tangible. You’re “consuming” the digital equivalent of one right now. 

    One of the best was “Noise for Heroes” from San Diego, USA. The very lanky Steve Gardner kicked it off with some like-minded friends in 1980. It initially had a focus on punk rock. In its second life, it moved onto the Aussie and Scandinavian underground scenes with Gardner its writer rather than editor. Steve drummed in bands, ran his own record label, NKVD, and had a mail order music business. 

  • barman and wizardThe Barman on tour in Japan at Mr Death's Crampstore with The Grand Wizard of the Psychotic Turnbuckles.  

    Top Ten Albums and Other Things In No Particular Order (with a qualifier that I never review gigs promted by the Bar but, fuck that, it’s my Top Ten.)

    Ten Albums
    1. Dark Country – Sonic Garage (self released)

    This turned up on the eve of an overseas trip so a full review from yours truly isn’t among the glowing tributes already posted. A step up on the debut (which was pretty good in its own right) with lots of weaving guitars and classy keyboard textures. Sydney Old Man Rock and Roll. Just buy it.

    2. Hackney Diamonds – The Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones Records)
    You might have wanted to hate it. Lead “single” “Angry” was so-so but turned out to be one of the parts of a sum that’s much better than it could have been. There's a formula here but it's not a negative when it's in the hands of its inventors. Trust your own ears: It sounds contemporary but this is still The Stones being the Stones, even without Charlie.

  • another tuneless racket

    Another Tuneless Racket: Punk And New Wave In The Seventies, Volume One: Origins 
    Another Tuneless Racket: Punk And New Wave In The Seventies, Volume Two: Punk
    Another Tuneless Racket: Punk and New Wave In The Seventies: Volume Three: UK New Wave
    Another Tuneless Racket: Punk and New Wave In The Seventies, Volume Five: The American Beat – West
    By Steve H Gardner (self published)

    The best intentions are often derailed by practicality. After being gifted Volume One of “Another Tuneless Racket”, the plan was to acquire and read the other three back-to-back and then write a review. A fine goal but one that slipped after realising their combined volume came to almost 2,400 pages and life was getting in the way…

    After delving deep into the series, it’s clear that the beauty of “Another Tuneless Racket” is that once you get your bearings, you can dive in almost anywhere, pick up on a thread and keep going. As you'll gather from the titles, each volume zeroes in on a time and place in the history of punk and new wave music, and then takes up the story of key acts. The series serves as a roadmap through the twists and turns of punk and new wave across most of the western world. 

    It’s meticulously researched but you’d expect that from author Steve Gardner, He’s a lanky Yank from San Diego who grew up on the US East Coast where he went to university before finding himself working in engineering. A music obsessive from an earl;y age, he'd been bitten by the punk rock bug by the time he blew out the candles on his 21st birthday cake.