Crass – Toxic Grafity Fanzine – 1979

First pressing of flexi

Second pressing of flexi

Crass – ‘Tribal Rival Rebel Revel’ flexi disc

This particular issue of Toxic Grafity is probably the most well known of the handful that were produced. It was also one of the best selling (of all fanzines, not just Toxic Grafity!) due to the free flexi disc of a (then) unreleased track by Crass being included.

It should be noted that Throbbing Gristle are also featured in this issue which was always a bonus for fanzines in the late 1970’s.

I am indebted to Toxic Grafity’s writer and editor, Mike Diboll for supplying the following information below on how this particular issue of Toxic Grafity got produced. All artwork on this post is from this issue of Toxic Grafity.

This edition of Toxic Grafity was put together while I was squatting in New Cross, south London and originally printed during late 1979, but it didn’t really get into folks homes until early 1980, when a substantial reprint was done. Originally 2,000 came off the presses, quite how many were eventually printed, I am not sure.

 

Joly from Better Badges (who also printed the first three KYPP’s fanzines, the last three were printed by Little ‘A’ Printers) used to always swing things so it seemed that I owed him lots of money (quite large sums for those days); I’m sure he may well have been diddling me, but that was my fault, because I was very naive in those days and thought that anything do with business, copyright etc, was bourgeois and reactionary, so perhaps I deserved it. Also, it must also be added that I was off my head a fair bit in those days, but of course so was Joly! Judging by the number of flexi’s that were sent to Better Badges, I suspect the actual print run was over 10,000, perhaps well over.

 

A year before the release of this particular issue of Toxic Grafity, in 1978, and also during 1979, there had been some really nasty rucks at Crass gigs at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square in west central London. These rucks had mainly been fought between boneheads and bikers brought in by the SWP.

 

I can’t remember what the gigs were in aid of, but it was something the SWP had a hand in. The boneheads were used to pushing punks around, but got far more than they bargained for when taking on the bikers, some of whom were grown men in their 30s and 40s armed with bike chains, knives etc. After those experiences at there concerts Crass seemed to get a lot more edgy than they had been previously about sharing any sort of platform with members of the ‘hard’ left wing.

The lyrics to the Crass 7″ single ‘Bloody Revolutions’ is based on that feeling from the band around this time.

 

Basically it was the left wing causes that Crass would sometimes support, that seemed to aggravate the boneheads, and of course the boneheads would generally mill around the halls looking dangerous, and on occasions causing some real trouble.

Toxic Grafity didn’t really have those left wing associations, and (luckily) I also knew a few of the bonehead contingent quite well. I had always despised their ideology, but on a human level I was quite friendly with some of them. This I think helped diffuse things when Crass performed at the Toxic Grafity event staged at the Conway Hall late on in 1979.

 

 

It was not a violent night at all, which was obviously good news at the time considering the previous gigs at the Conway Hall. There were of course some minor problems, but those situations were quickly nipped in the bud by some friends of my family that had come to witness the gig.

 

The flexi disc followed on from the Toxic Grafity benefit gig, it was Penny’s idea, he bought it up one evening at Dial House, the Crass commune, way out in North Weald, Essex.

 

The original Toxic Grafity benefit was staged because of an incident late on in 1978 when I was pulled by the police in Soho, the seedier area of the west end of London. The police stopped me on one of those charges they used to pick punks and other ne’r-do-wells up on, the infamous SUS law. I had stopped off in Soho on my way back from a visit to Dial House, and had the artwork of an earlier Toxic Grafity on me. The police found this highly amusing, as you might imagine, destroyed the artwork, treated me a bit roughly, threatened me, and said that they’d put me on some sort of Special Branch terrorist watch list. Looking back on this as a 50 year-old I can see that this was almost certainly bullshit, but I took it seriously enough at the time!

As a result, Crass decided to help Toxic Grafity out (a previous issue had carried one of the first in-depth interviews with them), and the gig at the Conway Hall and the flexi disc followed on from that.  

 

The track on the flexi disc, was not one of Crass’ more in-depth or enigmatic tracks, rather it was what it says it is, a protest against violent political sectarianism screwing up the young. Of course I was extramely grateful never the less.

I’ve repudiated so much of what I used to believe in during those days in the late 1970’s, but the closing words for Crass’ ‘Bloody Revolutions’ track “but the truth of revolution, brother, is Year Zero” still appeals to the Burkeian in me!

 

Joly at Better Badges did the litho printing for the fanzine and sorted out the badges. Southern Studios took care of the flexi disc by Crass, but I can’t remember where they had it pressed, or how many exactly were manufactured. The Crass flexi discs were written in red for the original publication of Toxic Grafity, others were written in silver for subsequent issues of the fanzine.

 

Eventually there were five Toxic Grafity fanzines that were produced and sold from 1978 – 1981.

 

Toxic Grafity issue 6 and 7 were planned and in large part nearly prepared, but I became a father in March 1982 (I’m now a grandfather, twice), and ‘reality’ stepped in quite soon after so all those projects were cancelled.

 

The later Toxic Grafity’s, including the issue above, had dropped the whole band interview thing and had became more like an anarcho-punk agit-art magazine, similar to what Kill Your Pet Puppy would evolve into.

 

By 1983 I was doing a lot of dispatching and also a lot of ‘white van man’ work until sometime in 1989. While doing these small jobs, a friend of mine, Wayne Minor (from Brixton’s 121 Railton Road bookshop) and myself brought out one issue of “The Commonweal” which was a more mainstream anarchist publication in 1985.

 

In 1989 I entered university as a mature student.

 

I now live and work in the middle east.

To advertise this issue of Toxic Grafity, Crass arranged to press up a few hundred vinyl copies of the same version of ‘Rival Tribal Rebel Revel’ to give to record stores that were ordering the fanzine in bulk. This was so the shop had a ‘hard’ vinyl copy that the shop could play rather than play the flexi disc from the fanzine if any potential buyers wanted a snippet pre buying the product.

With thanks to Chris Low for supplying the personal letter from Mike to Chris

310 comments on “Crass – Toxic Grafity Fanzine – 1979

  1. Thanks for the kind comments Mike.
    BTW did you see your birthday post at all? Got a picture of your cake on it…!

    http://www.killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/?p=2639

    Was it a nice cake? Seems a shame to cut the sweet little thing up.

    Think Jake lives near Brighton or actually in the town. You should arrange a meeting with him and Pork seems to be around Wimbledon a fair bit so maybe an extra train ride to Brighton may be a nice day out for him. Be good to get you lot back together again (for a short while a least). Email me privately if you three do not have each others email details. I am sure you probably have but just in case…

  2. Interesting to see this, as I’m always fascinated to work out how images/ artworks penetrate the culture.

    Most people will recognise the picture on the 3rd page as being the ‘Amebix face’, but not many will know it’s by Austin Osman Spare
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Osman_Spare
    who was involved in The Golden Dawn and did a lot of ‘Automatic Drawing’ in this style. the particular image illustrates his theory of ‘Atavism’.

    I imagine the pic in Toxic graffity was taken from a magazine called ‘Man, Myth and Magic’
    http://en.wikipedia.orgwiki/Man,_Myth_%26_Magic_%28encyclopedia%29
    that was published in weekly parts from 1970 onwards. To quote from the article itself:
    “Atavism means reversion to an earlier type. Applied to human beings, atavism is the re-emergence of the charachteristics of a certain ancestors after a lapse of what may have ben many generations. the implication is nearly always of something unwholsome or frightening, and the idea has been used in many horror stories.

    In a broader sense, the term atavism is used by occultists to mean the reappearance of characteristics which come from so long ago that they constitute reincarnations, or fresh embodiments, of pre-human conciousness; things which come from the time of creatures half man and half beast”.

    So you can see how Amebix might have been atracted to the imagery.

    What is interesting is the original is in colour (purple mainly) and is actually the other way round see here:
    http://www.myspace.com/amebixuk

    I think the original is in a Witchcraft museum in Cornwall (maybe Devon?) which was flooded a couple of years ago, so I don’t know if it survives.

    It was obviously accidentaly transposed in the magazine in B&W (which looks much better), taken from there for ‘TG’ and then reworked by Amebix for their logo.

    I once wrote to the Amebix asking them if the use was a refence to Spare’s theories and they were pleasently suprised that I’d even heard of him.

    Incidentally MM&M is the source for loads of punk/ post-punk/ goth imagary not least the mummified corpse that was used as the Mob’s logo, but also UK Decay, Pop Group, Ritual etc.

  3. Some of the AOS influences on popular culture are mentioned on the fulgur website
    http://www.fulgur.co.uk/authors/aos/thisandthat/

    One is a song called Austin Osman Spare by the late sixties group British Bulldog. Rod Taylor who was in the group explained that the connection came through his grandmother who knew Spare. The song is on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5JPx50BNgc

    Kenneth Grant was on the editorial board of Man, Myth and Magic which is why AOS work was included. There is a useful bit of background here-
    http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2006/05/15/austin-osman-spare/

    There is a tenuous KYPP(fanzine) connection to AOS via Mouse who we first met at the Wapping A Centre and who was later in PTV. For a while in the later eighties Mouse used to visit Frank Letchford who had been a close friend of AOS. This would have been with Gavin Semple of Fulgur. I’m sure Mouse also corresponded with Kenneth Grant – she thought KG was a better poet than he was a writer of occult books.

  4. The British Bulldog song is a a bit Tapish, no?

    Good to see someone else has an interest in AOS work/ life – there’s several odds and sods on Amazon – his own books, and illustrations he did for other people’s work. Machen’s ‘Great God Pan’ is very nice.

    Also nice to see someone who appreciates John Coulthart’s work. The only good HPL illustrations if ever seen.

  5. gerard on said:

    Interesting to see you flagging up the Conservative Party on Facebook, Mike.

  6. Bumpety-bump (bump bump).

  7. Found this on John Coulthart’s site:

    Austin Osman Spare: Fallen Visionary
    September 2010 to Saturday 13 November 2010

    The fascinating rise and fall of Austin Osman Spare, who lived and worked in Southwark in the early twentieth century, is charted in a new exhibition this Autumn at the Cuming Museum.

    Austin Osman Spare’s choice of dream-like, magical themes, his sometimes disturbing imagery and his other-worldly life and attitude have meant his work has both admirers and detractors.

    But he was also a fine and much-admired draughtsman and figurative artist, and left a fascinating visual record of his Southwark neighbours and acquaintances.

    Spare rejected much of the art establishment of the time and followed his own path, despite an early promise of fame and fortune.

    This made him an outsider in the art world but his life and work continue to inspire new generations of artists, musicians and writers.

    The exhibition will feature Spare’s work from the Southwark Art Collection and loans from many private and institutional collectors. It will be the largest showcase of his work in a public museum since his death in 1956.

    The exhibition is being curated by Stephen Pochin and Chris Jordan in conjunction with the Cuming Museum.

    To accompany the exhibition, there will be a series of fascinating talks by renowned speakers, private views and other activities. A final list of events will be published on the events pages in August.

    For further information please contact the Cuming Museum on 020 752 52332 or email: cuming.museum@southwark.gov.uk

  8. Pingback: Music Monday: Kill Your Pet Puppy « Wow Cool

  9. “Chaos in USSR” by Sub-Active.
    Great tune. Only available on flexi disc.
    In fact I was in touch with one of the band members, Stewart Osborne a few years back.
    He was surprised by the fact that I knew about his obscure little band.
    I used to sing in Bizex-B myself. Infamous Swedish punk band.
    All the best from,
    “Zluggo Pop”

  10. Chris L on said:

    Can’t remember which thread it was as I had been asked about it a few years ago, but pleased to say I have recently unearthed my copy of Mike Dibol’s post-TG journal The Commonweal, which I will be happy to lend you Penguin should you want to scan and post it up.

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