For those unaware, Touch and Go was a highly influential zine published from 1979 until 1983 in Lansing, Michigan. The zine was authored by Tesco Vee—perhaps best known as the vocalist of the Meatmen—along with partner Dave Stimson and covered the nascent punk scene of the Midwest along with the authors’ choice musical excursions to New York City and Washington DC, along with as many record reviews as they could stuff in. The zine’s spinoff record label is still around today, albeit in a reduced capacity, after having released a catalog of some of the most seminal modern music of the last twenty-five-plus years.
This book collects every issue in one softbound volume with some commentaries and gig flyers from the area/period thrown in for good measure. Reading through this today, one is struck by the brutal honesty and sheer passion in which the authors presented their material. While many zines of the period attempted to remain fairly impartial and even patronizing at times, if Vee and Stimson thought something stunk, they were more than happy to say so.
I particularly enjoyed reading their record and show reviews. The desperation captured in many of them totally took me back to the era when you would actually endure going to see a totally lame band simply because there was nothing else to do. The authors displayed a rather wide taste in music as well. Reading a review for Black Flag alongside a review for a Modern English record wasn’t uncommon in T&G.
Their interviews were not really their strong point, so don’t expect any revelations from any of the parties interviewed.
As far as the reprint itself there are some problems, as one might expect. Some of the pages cut off at the bottom or don’t jump to the right page and some of the type is illegible. Considering this stuff was pulled from a cut and copy zine from some thirty years ago, this is hardly a problem.
I do have one small issue though, and that is the use of the word “complete,” as it refers to the complete zine being reprinted. I actually owned an original issue as well as a best-of issue that was published sometime in the mid-eighties that both contained Meatmen comics similar to the art used on the We’re the Meatmen… And You Suck! record, which are sadly not included in this book. Likewise, there are some pictures on some pages that don’t seem chronologically correct and seem to indicate that some content got replaced during the editing.
That said, this book is still highly recommended for anyone interested in the late ‘70s-early ‘80s Midwest punk and hardcore scenes, as well as general zine lovers. At $29.95 the book may seem a bit overpriced, but as a historical document it’s priceless. Now if only Flipside would get the archival book treatment… –Garrett Barnwell (Bazillion Points Books, 61 Greenpoint Ave. #108, Brooklyn, NY11222)