[English] Chinese Rock Magazines, 1998-2001

If you still remember what we said before (yes, it’s been a while), you know that in the mid-1990s something new is going on in China. Between a new “cultural fever” (文化热), the apparition of dakou (打口) CDs and tapes, and the formation of China’s first punk bands, the Chinese counter-cultural scene is in turmoil. But the story of the musical underground is not only the story of its heroes, legendary punk bands which have aged more or less well, it’s also the story of the audience, the fans, and some enthusiasts who started to write and publish fanzines, about local scenes or more broadly about international rock and roll. It’s the era of specialized magazines (杂志) published more or less legally, with the backing of official magazines and editors. Yan Jun (颜峻), native of Lanzhou, plays a preeminent role in the development of rock critic in China. Critic, musician, journalist, collector of dakou (see the RadiiChina’s article and also this fabulous long paper by Josh Feola), Yan Jun participated to the adventure of Chinese rock magazine, and more particularly this first one, “朋克时代” (“Punk Generation”) published in 1998, backed by the official Guangzhou music magazine “音乐天堂” (“Music Heaven”, published from 1992 to 2006), and edited by the rock critic Yang Bo (杨波). Yang Bo discovered rock an roll in the early 1990s, first through the hongkongese bands BEYOND and Tat-Ming Pair, whose tapes circulated at the time, but before the apparition of dakous, Yang Bo had to rely on tapes borrowed from “friends of friends” coming back from overseas.

“Punk Generation” was published for three issues from 1998 to 1999, each time sold with a cassette tape containing a majority of Western rock bands, and some Chinese bands as Punk God (盘古). In an era were internet was virtually non-existent, these issues were an important contribution to the musical education of Chinese youth, that allowed them to choose between the myriads of dakous available on the black market. Here is the playlist of the first issue of “Punk Generation”, where we can find some of the most important punk, garage and new wave bands:

01-Patti Smith-Horses-Gloria
02-Monks-Complication
03-Ramones-When I Was Young
04-X Ray Spex-Oh Bondage Up Yours!
05-Sex Pistols-Anarchy In The UK (demo version)
06-Joy Division-Isolation
07-The Jesus & Mary Chain-Reverence
08-苍蝇-城市生活
09-Sonic Youth-X
10-Sonic Youth-The Ineffable Me
11-Nirvana-Negative Creep
12-Jane’s Addiction-Ocean Size
13-Hole-20 Years In The Dakota
14-Babes In Toyland-Untitled Hidden Track
15-Babes In Toyland-Jungle Train
16-L7-I Need
17-盘古-你不让我摇滚

And here is the first issue, which contains articles about Western musicians – Yan Jun dedicates an entire article to Kurt Cobain, who died 4 years before – as Jane’s Addiction, Jesus and Mary Chain. There are also articles about Chinese bands as Punk God and NO, poems, op-eds, the lyrics of the tape’s songs, etc. A very interesting postscript written by Yang Bo asks what the role of a rock critic must be.

Download the PDF version here.

Between 1998 and 1999 two issues of another magazine, “盛世摇滚” (“Heyday of Rock and Roll”), were published in the same style as “Punk Generation”. Yang Bo published a new magazine between 1999 and 2000 for four issues, named “自由音乐” (“Freedom Music”). Little by little, the critics, as Yan Jun, gets more interested by other kinds of music: metal and death metal with Sepultura, noise, or krautrock, which is best shown by the playlist of the cassette tape. The general tone is more scathing, the magazine criticizing for instance the music label “Modern Sky” renamed “Modern Hell”, guilty of becoming way too mainstream.

1 Skunk — Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
2 Dead Meat — Pussy Galore
3 Satisfaction — The Rolling Stone
4 Tv Spot — Can
5 Nobody But You — Lou Reed & John Cale
6 这个忧伤的城市 — 王凡
7 七十二变2 — 隐患
8 Muzorewi’s Daughter — The Fall
9 From Broken Cross Locusts — 93 Current 93
10 Pull The Plug — Death
11 1号通道 — 周沛
12 See No Evil — Television
13 After The Goldrush — Flaming Lips
14 Spit — Sepultura
15 Evolved As One — Napalm Death
16 Morbid Deceiver — Napalm Death
17 Rocket USA — Suicide
18 Turntable With Guitar Amp — 大友良英

1999 is also the date of birth of yet another vert important rock magazine, who will publish until 2013 after 135 issues, “我爱摇滚乐” (“So Rock” – literally “I Love Rock”). But it is a story for another time… For now, here is a one-shot magazine published in 2001 named “我恨摇滚乐” – “I Hate Rock” (which is funny). Again, Kurt Cobain is in the spotlight, 7 years after his death, yet another proof of its importance for the Chinese underground.

Download the PDF version here.

The two tapes sold with the magazine display a very eclectic playlist:

– Tape Ⅰ –
Mr.Self Destruct – Nine Inch Nails
Decomposing Trees – Galaxie 500
Addicted To Love – Cicone Youth
Cherub Rockt – Smashing Pumpkins
Crush With Eyeliner – R.E.M
Soultrap – Boss Hog
I Am Your Boogieman – White Zombie
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges(Live)
Nothing To Say – Soundgarden
Rid Of Me – P J Harvey
Deep – Danzig
Long Hard Road Out Of Hell – Marilyn Manson
Ladykillers – Lush
Dig It A Hole – U-Men
Lithium – Nirvana
Feel The Pain – Dinosaur Jr.
Gladiator – The Jesus Lizard
Touch Me I’m Sick – Mudhoney(Live)
The Girl Can’t Help It – Babes In Toyland
Plateau/Lake Of Fire – Meat Puppets
Kettle Whistle – Jane’s Addiction
No Fun – Sex Pistols
On The Tweek Again – Primus
Drama – L7
What Jail Is Like – The Afghan Whigs
Giant Killer – TAD
Holiday In Cambodia – Dead Kennedys
Vamos – Pixies
– Tape Ⅱ –
Intro – Spiritualized
Pilot Can At The Queer Of God – The Flaming Lips
Rise Above – Black Flag
Night Goat – Melvins
Chatterbox – New York Dolls
Behind The Sun – The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Soon – My Bloody Valentine
Tiny Rubberband – Butthole Surfers
C’mon Everbody – Iggy Pop
Secret Number – Come
Brain Of J – Pearl Jam
Yu Gung – Pussy Galore
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
Statues – Husker Du
The Weeping Song – Nick Cave
Stereo – Pavement
Enjoy – Bjork
Stitches – Urge Overkill
It’s A Wonderful Lie – Paul Westerberg
Run Run Run – The Velvet Underground
We’re Desperate – X
Liar – Rollins Band
Cannonball – The Breeders
Can’t Seem To Make You Mine – Ramones
Banned In D.C – Bad Brains
I Can Be Killed – Big Black
Write A Song – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Over The Edge – Hole
Customer – The Replacements
Androgynous Mind – Sonic Youth
Flying Lesson Hot Chicken – Yo La Tengo

 


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  2. 19/10/2018

    […] like the title of a book he published in 1999 with Ou Ning (欧宁). We already talked about his implication during the outburst of rock magazines in the mid-1990s, he is also one of the most prominent figure of the dakou generation – you can fin an […]

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