munster timesEverybody of a certain vintage who follows non-mainstream rock and roll has a soft spot for ‘zines. One of the reasons you’re reading this electronic magazine is down to two, 48 Crash and Vicious Kitten.

48 Crash was the archetypal Sydney zine of the early ‘80s. Hand-written (and coloured, sometimes), its photocopied pages spoke of Le Hoodoo Gurus, the Visitors, the three-piece Screaming Tribesmen and the Lipstick Killers - bands that struggled to attract mainstream attention elsewhere. It championed the so-called Detroit Sound that fuelled the Sydney music scene for more than a decade.

Ten years later, Vicious Kitten was an offshoot of the record label of the same name and professional publication that aimed its lens at people like Johnny Thunders, Kevin K, Jeff Dahl and Freddy Lynxx. Very Lower East Side, in spirit.

An honourable mention also to Sydney's B Side, that covered the left-of-centre, extreme local musical scene. Unbelievably Bad fills the same niche today. There were the rock local papers (RAM, the bible, and Juke) that were consumed religiously, but zines had all the cool stuff and never mentioned Chisel, Icehouse or Farnham. 

Munster Times is a hard copy zine from Melbourne that follows the same pattern as those 1980s zines. Filled by large chunks of typed copy and occasional scanned photos, its content is parochial, sometimes left-of-centre. Issue 21 has incisive interviews with Dave Graney, Off the Hip label and shop boss Mickster Baty and a borrowed Dinosaur Jr live review. 

Issue 22 tackles subjects like wrestling god Bobby Heenan, Powerline Sneakers, Melbourne community TV broadcaster Bernie Carr and “Descent Into The Maelstrom: The Radio Birdman Story”.  The latter is nailed adroitly. 

The contents are unashamedly raw and unadorned, which is endearing, and often very parochial. That’s fine. Zines cover local scenes. The best have always been warts-and-all, unfiltered conversations between a fan and a subject in which we, the readers, are observers and sometimes participants, primed to latch onto a recognisable chord or disagree. 

Personal touches - like a tribute to editor Matt’s late grandfather - are a human element you’ll never see in a shitty mainstream music magazine. (You won’t be missed, Australian Rolling Stone, by the way, at least in your recent form.) 

Pick up Munster Times in any reputable Melbourne music outlet, I guess, or contact Matt via the Facebook link and work out postage. 
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