xXx Fanzine: Hardcore & Punk in the Eighties By Mike Gitter, 288 pgs

Until now, I knew Mike Gitter only by reputation—during the punk rock feeding frenzy of the mid-nineties his name was frequently dropped in discussions of indie bands jumping ship to majors. In particular, I remember his name being connected to Jawbox’s defection from Dischord to Atlantic. Gitter’s xXx fanzine was always mentioned as a credential, but I was too little to have read it when it came out. So, when Bridge Nine released this compendium of the zine’s five year run, I was curious to dive in.

Well, holy shit. This one is right up there with the reissues of Touch and Go, Sub Pop, and We Got Power zines. xXx is absolutely essential, and should be in every fledgling punk historian’s library. The oversized format of the book—each page is roughly a foot square—allows for clean reprints of all the original zine pages, with room for commentary from Gitter and his interviewees on the side, providing a nice then-and-now contrast. It’s cool to see the original ads reproduced, too.

Gitter’s hometown of Boston is certainly represented here. Scene gossip is a staple of each of the zine’s twenty issues, and interviews with the likes of SSD, DYS, Slapshot, and Gang Green, among others, are prominent. And I get that people outside of New England (hell, even people in it) might have Boston fatigue. With that said, Gitter’s coverage of bands extends beyond Beantown: his writing focuses on a diverse, awesome group of bands including the Misfits and Necros, Black Flag, Ignition and Dag Nasty, Swans, even early Metallica and Voivod. Gitter interviews bands that he likes, and his taste is spot-on. There are no clunkers here.

I try not to gush in reviews. It’s hard not to gush about the ridiculous wealth of knowledge and history in xXx. And absolute joy, start to finish, and essential. (Hey publishers: how about a similar treatment for Suburban Voice and/or Forced Exposure? Ah jeez, I think my Boston is showing. Sorry.) –Michael T. Fournier (Bridge Nine, bridge9.com)