Denim Delinquent 1971 - 1976
HoZac - 2016
What kind of man read Denim Delinquent? Well, Morrissey for one. The erstwhile Smiths singer was apparently a huge fan of the early-seventies fanzine, writing letters to the editors, at one point actually taking out a subscription and, in perhaps the little-known zine's biggest publicity coup, even going so far as to etch the words "What kind of man reads Denim Delinquent?" in the run-off groove of a 12" single (a one-sided 1989 issue of his 'Interesting Drug').
Denim Delinquent was birthed in Ottawa circa 1971, a place that must have seemed as far from any hip musical epicentre as one could get back then. Co-editor Jymn Parrett felt the cultural isolation as soon as he arrived in the nation's capital. "I came to Ottawa in 1967 from Montreal," he told Label Obscura. "I was sixteen and stunned that there was nobody I could find to talk rock or trade LPs. It was like going back pre-Beatles. There was only one real record store, Treble Clef, [and] it wasn't until three years later that I met two primo rockers, Mark and Evan Jones, whose bacchanalian parties were the stuff of legend."
Parrett and Mark Jones sold their first issue of Denim Delinquent for the princely sum of 15 cents. It was as amateurish as the punk zines it would later influence - mimeographed in black and white with a cross-section of photos, hand-drawn pics, manual typewriter font and hand-written headlines. (That issue by the way featured pieces on the Kinks, the MC5 and Montreal retro-rockers Bolt Upright and the Erections as well as, what would become a regular feature, a consumer's guide to available bargain bin fare.)
Local reaction varied from indifference to scathing, and was at least in part deserved. "Because circulation for Denim Delinquent was initially about 200," Parrett recalled, "we never cared about an audience. 'Who's gonna read this shit anyway? Let's party!' One time at a Jones party, a future rock writer reading a Denim Delinquent stood up shouting, 'Trite! Worst shit I've ever read!'"
Fortunately, the pair became marginally more professional and people eventually started to take notice. Bomp! honcho Greg Shaw, who had written some positive reviews of DD in his own magazine, encouraged the pair to relocate to Los Angeles, where they at least received the reassurance of like-minded collectors and zinesters. By the time of issue #6, they had secured the contributions of gonzo critic Lester Bangs, who lent them a typically unhinged review of Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance. (To wit: "'Ride Sally Ride'... is a song based on watching the scene where Marcello Mastrioanni (sic) or however you spell that fazoola's name rides the chick bareback through that divinely decadent party with the Bill Haley soundtrack in LA DOLCE VITA. This Lou Reed character is swacking the bitch on the heinie and giving her contusions whilst applying ice packs to her left tit because she's got myrocardial (sic) puffn-stuff.")
Denim Delinquent 1971 - 1976 contains all eight issues of the groundbreaking fanzine - in their original format! - and is probably about as indispensable as can be for those looking to mine that murky period between the break-up of the Beatles and the formation of the Sex Pistols. Rock journalism at the time may have been slapdash and infantile, but the music itself was settling into its highly polished classic period. Young'uns who wouldn't know a Remington from a Smith Corona will probably find themselves a tad flummoxed by how DIY things actually were back then. But anyone with even a passing interest in below-the-radar rock of the era, from Captain Beefheart and the New York Dolls to unsung Canadians like Michel Pagliaro and Robert Charlebois, would do well to pick up this book.
In Alpha Zones