Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet and artist who lives on the Wirral Peninsula in England.
How Smokin' Dragon Zine Began
Smokin' Dragon began as a few simple photocopied sheets of pen pal listings called Inklink. By issue three, a change of name and format was already directing this totally independent non-profit project into the mighty DIY quarterly publication that it became.
Smokin' Dragon's ISSN number was 1353-9973.
While the front and back covers were photocopied to allow the use of photographs, the rest of the zine was laboriously printed by hand, sheet by sheet, using an antiquated mimeograph machine.
I ran this non-profit making project from my home in Aigburth in Liverpool, where I was then living. The guys from Timeshard lived just off Lark Lane, Aigburth, which was a five minute walk from my flat. Members of a goth band, Rosetta Stone, lived off Lark Lane too. Just down the same road as me lived The Wizards of Twiddly's manager, and on the next street lived the guitarist from Year Zero.
Music demos would clatter through my letterbox on an almost daily basis as bands from around the world competed to be included in Smokin' Dragon's inky pages. Other writers willingly contributed articles, reviews and also poetry and fiction.
Smokin' Dragon #11
Published on 1st August, 1994, the 11th issue of "Smokin' Dragon" featured SkinTrade, Kava Kava and Steve Andrews on the front cover, and its pages featured over 55 bands plus the Heavy Metal Morris Men, who had exchanged their traditional bell-laden sticks for huge steel spanners.
In this issue's editorial, I mentioned having been interviewed by Gary Clarke for his rock show on Caithness FM. He had previously contributed reviews and poetry to the zine. Also, I had been on TV after GMTV filmed one session of a New Age Issues and Psychic Development course run by Vanessa Sharples. This was screened on June 16th, and if you'd looked very closely you would have glimpsed my hand in the footage. (How's that for a lame claim to fame, hmm?!!)
Liverpool rock band Deadline had developed a solid local following even before they had played support slots for Manowar and The Almighty. Singer Dean Anthony talked about the band's clash with American airport officials, and the importance of having good management. Dean said, "Last night I was looking at our flyer from The Marquee gig, thinking about how five years ago I used to dream of something like that. In just ten months we've done it. It just feels incredible!"
This issue of Smokin' Dragon also featured a review of Deadline's packed-out gig at The Lomax in Liverpool, on May 20th, 1994. They wound-up their tight and energetic set with their cover of Walking On Sunshine, which had become something of a tradition.
Highly recommended was The Sky Moves Sideways by Porcupine Tree, released on the mighty Delerium Records. Described in issue 11 as a "very creative and experimental album, full of subtleties and surprises". At the time, Porcupine Tree were unknown but that would change. They remain one of my favourite bands.
Also reviewed was Splendor Solis by Canadian trio The Tea Party, who went on to record several other albums. Other music reviews covered Wicked Ways who had recently won BBC Radio 1's Rock War, and Voodoo Sioux's Live Bootleg which obviously wasn't a bootleg at all as they'd recorded and published it themselves.
Mutha's Day Out album, My Soul is Wet, was reviewed by Silver Foxx, and Lion Lambach wrote about a gig featuring Brother Cane, ZZ Top and Whitesnake which had taken place on 8th July at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany.
Razz Monroe reviewed The Wildhearts gig at The Forum, London, on March 27th, when the singer, Ginger, had encouraged the audience to sing Happy Birthday to his mum. The video for their forthcoming single, Suckerpunch, was allegedly filmed at this gig.
I interviewed Bender, who had played with The Levellers, Back To The Planet and Citizen Fish. When I asked about their demo's artwork, their manager, Del, said, "The artwork is done by Jim (the band's bass player), who's doing an MA in Art." Bender had recently released a 7" single, Peoples Army/Moonwalking, which was also reviewed in this issue.
Silver Foxx reviewed The Mary's demo, and Kelly Angel reviewed Grey, the three-track demo from Der-Untermensch, while Gisela Collins contributed a write-up of the Mutual Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) which took place at The Venue on Oxford on April 30th.
Kira Norlamo wrote a review of the Rock Against Drugs Festival, on June 30th in Helinski, Finland, when Andy McCoy & The Shooting Gallery played. This had not gone well, according to Kira, who had decided to "grab a pen and express my condolences".
Other bands featured in demo/album reviews included Fugitive; Spin Out; Funny Gallery; Psyclone; Native Sun, and The Joeys.
The Joeys gig at The Adelphi in Hull was written up by Del Taylor, who oozed great enthusiasm for this band who managed to create some noise in the rock press for a few months before vanishing entirely. The one thing I recall about The Joeys is that they sent me a small wooden fork, the sort used by chip shops, which had "The Joeys" printed on it.
New from Planet Dog Records was Crystal Oscillations by Timeshard, who were Liverpool's premier ambient techno band. This album was described as psychedelic music which strives to transport the listener to a place where trees speak, birds sing and dreams are realities.
Issue 11 featured a full-page advert for a forthcoming gig at The Sportsman, a large pub in Liverpool city centre, on Sunday 28th August. Booked to play were local bands Angel Child, Demolition Co, and Southern Cult. The event was sponsored by Smokin' Dragon zine, (in other words, by me). Entry cost all of £2.
Steve Andrews, the Bard of Ely
Fresh from his performance on the Maes Myrddin stage at the Glastonbury Festival, Steve Andrews is a Quest Knight and Bard of the Loyal Arthurian Warband. He lived in Ely, in Cardiff, Wales back then, and he mailed in a copy of his new 17-track album, Dive In Deep. Smokin' Dragon's review described the songs as part Dylan, part Lennon, with a hint of country and a dash of humour.
- "Smokin' Dragon" Zine: Revisiting Issues 1 to 7
A gem of British subculture, "Smokin' Dragon" was one of the most well-known independent music zines of the 1990s. Interviews with emerging bands, demo reviews, art, poetry and prose were the staple features of this lively and diverse DIY publication
- "Smokin' Dragon" Zine: Revisiting Issues 8 to 10
"Smokin' Dragon" was one of the most popular independent fanzines of the 1990s. Here we look again at issues eight, nine and ten, remembering the rock bands that crammed its lively pages.
© 2022 Adele Cosgrove-Bray