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Boys Keep Swinging

By Phil Thornton 


For a few issues back in the late 80s I was Boys Own fanzine’s token ‘northern correspondent.’ I’d just started writing and had sent a few pieces off to the End but at the time, that august scouse journal was on its last legs and, although pretty much a Cockney imitation of The End,  Boys Own was far more in tune with my own ‘soul boy’ musical leanings. Together with rare groove fanzine, ‘Soul Underground’ Boys Own’s became essential reading for dancers and chancers, its evangelic zeal for house music forging a nationwide coalition of likeminded hoolies, clubbers and hedonists tired with the existing ‘soul mafia’ cartel of DJs, venues and promoters.


I was also doing my own fanzines very much in The End/Boys Own mould also and although the ‘second summer of love’ was largely a myth, there’s no denying that the whole acid house/Balearic/baggy scene energized British youth culture more than anything since punk and had a far more lasting cultural and musical impact. 1988 was Year Zero and Boys Own established itself at the very heart of this emerging scene, becoming a barometer of fashion, football and musical trends much as The End had been five or so years earlier. It inspired a whole generation of copycat fanzines such as Manchester’s ‘Freaky Dancing,’ and ‘LuvDup’ Nottingham’s ‘Duck Call’ Birmingham’s ‘Sunnyside Up’ and Leed’s ‘Herb Garden’ and soon expanded into a record label, club promotions and pet insurance.   


Boys Own was such a success because of not despite its unapologetic amateurism. Not even the lads behind it (Terry Farley, Andrew Weatherall, Cymon Eckels and Steve Mayes) could cobble together their own collections to produce DJHistory’s excellent new compendium, ‘Acid House Scrapes so it is a treat to see the full history of the fanzine evolve from its roots in the suburban London soulboy hinterland into a national phenomenon without losing its sardonic edge. Boys Own could be elitist, incestuous, cliquey, snide and dismissive. Which is I why I loved it (especially when I was still writing for it – we parted company once those whoppers from Manchester club, Spice started gegging in!)


To be honest, when I heard they were bringing out this compendium I dreaded seeing my own rather juvenile contributions especially the shite cartoons, but then again, that was the spirit of the age, that punk/acid house DIY attitude of just doing it and fuck careerism and professionalism and all that bourgeois shite (the excuse for the failure down the ages). Boys Own caught the spirit of UK club culture at its most irreverent and energetic for a generation and for that we should all be truly grateful.


You can order a copy from Djhistory as below :