While I knew that Greg Shaw, the man who started Bomp did a fanzine before it became a record label and mail order, I had no idea just how many fanzines he had done even before Who Put the Bomp! The man practically invented the fanzine as he had been doing so many of them either about science fiction or his own neighborhood or music. I’m willing to bet if it wasn’t for him, music fanzines wouldn’t have become as big as they were in the early punk days, and as a former fanzine publisher, I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to Greg Shaw to showing us how it was done.
Bomp 2: Born in the Garage collects the best of Greg’s various fanzines, most of which he would produce on his own mimeograph machine in his home. The book starts out with a history of Greg and his various writing endeavors written by various friends and associates who contributed to the many zines Greg produced and wrote for, many of whom became quite famous writers of rock music for much larger publications, those names include Lester Bangs, Lenny Kaye, and Richard Meltzer among others. It then reprints the best of his various zines that pre-date the 1970s punk rock explosion. Those zines include Alligator Wine, Liquid Love, Metanoia, and of course Who Put the Bomp! The zines were true fanzines and contained articles about record labels and various bands including very detailed discographies and record listings as well as various articles about record collecting. It is pretty amazing how much of these tiny little zines were preserved over the years.
The book was compiled by Suzy Shaw, who was married to Greg at the time all these zines were produced and would bail him out when he’d get in things way over his head by taking on a number of tasks including carrying on the label and mail order after Greg’s passing, and Mike Stax who put out a wonderful zine of his own called Ugly Things. The music covered in the various zines compiled here include 60’s garage, Surf, British invasion, girl groups, rockabilly, psychedelia and a little bit of punk rock. There’s a ton you can learn from these various articles and listings and it made me start to compile a list of bands covered here in this book that I want to check out.
The book weighs in at 311 pages and since the pages are jam packed with stuff to read, much of it in small type, it will take you quite some time to read it. There’s lots too look at too as the book also contains many pictures. The chapters are broken down by what zine is being reproduced and are presented in chronological order, which made it pretty easy and interesting to see how Greg’s tastes and interests changed over the years and how either accurate or inaccurate his predictions were.
Overall Bomp 2: Born in the Garage is a wonderful compilation of zines from a time long gone and is as educational as it is entertaining. Any fan of the music covered in this book, or just those of fanzines in general looking for some history would do well to pick up this book, which will give you a lot for your money.