London's Top 5 Post-Punk Fanzine Shops - The Best of Jamming!
One of Britain’s best-loved and most successful fanzines, Jamming! documented the musical landscape as it evolved between 1977 and 1986.
The Best of Jamming! is out tomorrow! Having guided the fanzine from a 6-page school publication to a nationally distributed monthly, editor Tony Fletcher provides behind-the-scenes insights, while musicians and former contributors reflect on their interviews and Jamming!’s long-lasting influence. As a teenager, Tony was a familiar face amongst the fanzine and record shops in the city.
Here, Tony Fletcher picks his top 5 fanzine shops in post-punk London.
Tony has drawn on his archive of notebooks, lists and even annotated maps of London from his days carting copies of Jamming! around the city. How many have you been to?
London's Top 5 Post-Punk Fanzine Shops:
Nestled between Portobello Rd and Ladbroke Grove, Rough Trade, London’s main independent post-punk mecca was first port of call for the first properly printed Jamming! in 1978 and, contrary to what I’ve subsequently read elsewhere, I always found the place welcoming and inclusive. Sure, the counter staff, being members of Rough Trade bands, occasionally reviewed my review of their records over the top of my printed review, but that was the fanzine era for you!
As London’s leading left-wing bookshop, the Camden High Street-based Compendium also sold a plethora of indie periodicals, from music fanzines to feminist treaties. I was warned on my first visit that if they found anything racist or sexist in Jamming, they’d dump the copies; they never did and we maintained a cordial platonic relationship for years.
- Small Wonder
Located at the far-flung, Walthamstow end of the Victoria Line, Small Wonder was one of those vital local record shops turned equally vital indie labels (cf: Rough Trade, Good Vibrations, Red Rhino etc.), without which, in this case, the world might never have been introduced to Bauhaus, Patrick Fitzgerald, The Cure, The Angelic Upstarts and more. Proprietor Pete Stennett never turned down purchasing a few fanzines either.
- Rock On
The market stalls played a crucial role in disseminating punk/new wave to clothes-shopping tourists and music-hungry Londoners alike, and Soho Market’s Rock On was not just hipper but more central than most. Added advantage: Shane MacGowan was usually manning the stall on Saturdays, pint in hand.
Easy to dismiss even in 1978 as a high street chain, Virgin bridged an important gap between the truly indie shops and your real chain stores, the Woolworths, WH Smiths and even HMVs that stocked exclusively from central offices. The Virgin shops, which came and went from Croydon to Notting Hill with a focus on touristic Oxford Street, not only sold walls full of indie 7”s, but proudly promoted fanzines – and employed staff who knew about them, too. At our mutual peak, the Virgin Megastore bought 200 copies of Jamming!, and paid up front.
An immensely evocative read, The Best of Jamming! perfectly encapsulates the excitement and unprecedented potential of the DIY era.
The Best of Jamming! is published in the UK on the 23rd September 2021. Pre-order now! The 'Jamming! Fanzine Podcast' is launching on the 23rd too, check out the trailer for more exploration of London's post-punk world.