xXx Fanzine (1983 – 1988): Hardcore and Punk in the Eighties – Written by Mike Gitter & Edited by Chris Wrenn (Bridge Nine)

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For some reason, I thought it would be smaller. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, I just thought this book wouldn’t be…Well, as big as it is. Truth be told, it’s massive. Absolutely huge. It weighs as much as a small moon, could be used to block out the sun and not a single millimetre of its voluminous space is wasted. Every inch of every page is crammed to bursting with interviews (new and old), asides, reviews, cartoon strips and more and at first glance, it’s a little overwhelming.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that in a bad way, just the opposite in fact. See, if you were stupid enough to imagine, like I mistakenly did, that you’d be able to read xXx Fanzine (1983-1988)in a single afternoon /evening / day or sitting then you need to check your brain at the door, apologise to yourself and Gitter and demand a replacement for your defective thinking organ. This isn’t just a book, it’s the eighties Hardcore equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is the be all and the end all of mid-eighties US Hardcore forever and ever, amen.

Old as I am, I’m still not old enough to have been around during xXx’s heyday. I didn’t become involved in, and a part of, the scene until the tail end of nineteen eighty six and until this bad boy came crashing through my letter box and created a Tunguska sized impact crater in my hallway, I’d only ever seen one copy of xXx which I managed to lay my hands on during a visit to London during the latter half of nineteen eighty seven. But that single issue made a lasting, lieflong impression on me and in my mind served to reinforce xXX’s near mythical status and reputation within the Hardcore scene.  So, I guess the big question is this… Is xXx everything that I remembered it being and three and half decades after it first appeared, has it stood the test of time? And the short answer to the much larger question is yes. Yes it has and yes it’s every bit as good as my memory regularly told me it was

And, if it was a just a compendium of xXx’s history, a book that served solely to document the beginning and early evolution of a musical genre and the bands and individuals who helped to shape it, it’d be more than worth the cover price. But it isn’t, it’s so much more. As well as including the best of the original interviews, author Mike Gitter interviewed the people he’d originally spoken too again, which not only shows the progression of his intelligent and forthright ability as a journalist and his innate understanding of people, but also highlights how the individuals who were featured in xXx have changed as people and artists during the last thirty years and how they view their involvement and the music they made, then and now.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of the way music, and more specifically Hardcore, can change one’s perspective and alter the direction of people’s lives, and when paired next to Gitter’s brief, but illuminating, year by year breakdowns of what was happening in Hardcore and in xXx land and Chris Wrenn’s clean, crisp and incredibly high quality layouts that reproduce and modernise the zines original look and feel,  xXx Fanzine (1983 – 1988) becomes compulsory reading. You want to know about the mid-eighties US hardcore scene?  Then this is the only book that you’ll ever need. It’s that simple.  Tim Cundle

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