Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Next Big Thing 40th Anniversary Issue

Being one who came up in the world of do-it-yourself print zines, I have tremendous affection for those venerable publications that paved the way. Of those, Lindsay Hutton's The Next Big Thing was one of the first and without doubt one of the most legendary. It was certainly the first U.K. fanzine to be largely inspired by American punk rock. Named, of course, after the opening track from The Dictators' debut album Go Girl Crazy!, The Next Big Thing debuted in April of 1977. It eventually spawned a record label and continued as a print fanzine for an amazing run of 20 years. The entity lives on today over at nextbigthing.blogspot.com. If you're looking for a good feel for what the magazine was about, consider that the premiere issue featured extensive write-ups on The Dictators, The Damned, Blue Oyster Cult, and Television in addition to an article on the musical origins of punk rock. Over the years, Hutton championed standouts of the punk, new wave, and rock n' roll scenes - many of whom were largely unknown by the masses. In today's world where information about independent bands is so readily available on The Internet, it's easy to forget how vital fanzines like TNBT were to punk music in its early days. Imagine coming across an issue in the late '70s and having your life forever changed by seeing a Ramones record review or an ad for Bomp! Records!

With this year being the 40th anniversary of the debut of The Next Big Thing, Hutton endeavored to mark the occasion in a special way. He revived both the zine and the label, releasing The Dahlmanns (with Andy Shernoff!) "Forever My Baby" 7" and an anniversary print edition of TNBT. I had the pleasure of reviewing the 7" back in March, and I still maintain that it's the best single of 2017.

As for the print mag, it's really a delight to hold it in my hands. I stopped doing print zines over a decade and a half ago - in part due to the enormous expense involved and in part due to my reluctant adaptation to changing technologies. But I have to admit that there's just something incredibly cool about print (even in this age when our "devices" make digital publications equally portable). Hutton opens the issue by stating his concern that it might come off like a once great band's lesser "new stuff". But essentially this issue is classic TNBT - replete with a heartfelt opening rant, a nifty four-page spread on The Dahlmanns, an autobiographical piece by Amy Rigby, a feature on the Funtastic Dracula Carnival music festival, a previously unpublished short story by J.D. King, a write-up on The Schizophonics by Long Gone John, and a few pages of reviews. The 2017 version of TNBT very much resembles its younger self - with its focus on bands and artists who are highly worthy of attention yet unlikely to ever receive it from the "proper" press. The passion that went into this issue is palpable. 

This special print issue of The Next Big Thing proved to be a great success, with all 300 copies already gone. A few (packaged with the 7") remain available from Soundflat's on-line store, so move fast if you want one! I admire that Hutton wanted this issue to only be available as a print magazine, and its warm reception says a great deal about the enthusiasm of our international punk rock community. Hutton was never going to profit financially from this endeavor, yet he went ahead and did it because he really wanted to. For 40 years, he's done what I attempt to do myself - spread the gospel about great music and hopefully turn people on to bands they'll come to love. I was honored and humbled that he thought me worthy of a promo copy. If you're not doing so already, I highly recommend you follow his activities via his blog and check out the digital archive of TNBT back issues. It's incredibly fascinating to go back and read Hutton's coverage of 1977 punk music that was written just as this music was coming out. Below I've embedded Hutton's recent appearance on John Cavanagh's Soundwave - which is required listening in my book!



-L.R.

http://nextbigthing.blogspot.com/ 

1 comment:

Lindsay Hutton said...

Cheers Josh. Glad you had fun with it. We Dahlmanns Army conscripts gotta stick together. Thanks for taking the time to do this.