There's a moment in Jack Kerouac's 1962 autobiographical come-down novel 'Big Sur' where 'the King of the Beats' (a term he hated) comes face to face with "some sort of Beat Jesus", an 18 year old proto-hippy, there in San Francisco, a good eight or nine years before Woodstock, and a forbearer of a subcultural, generational shift that arguably changed Western culture for good.

Boys Own, the Complete Fanzines, 1986-92, has Big Sur moments peppered through the 1986-88 issues, as a small crew of West London football lads, clubbers, music freaks and blaggers start to realise that they're not just near the centre of Acid House as it starts to emerge from the primordial swamp of mid 80's UK subculture, they and the faces around them are helping create it.

Whilst lacking the quasi – political impact the 60's generation bought to their particular party, Acid House's long term impact on popular culture has arguably been stronger and longer, with house music and club culture itself currently enjoying global popularity on an unprecedented scale twenty six years down the line.

A Short Film about Chilling (1990)

...not about the Boys Own crew specifically, but everything to do with what they were about back then. And a beautiful thing in it's own right.

What that amount's to in terms of lasting cultural value, as opposed to the commercial opportunities  it represents, is a subject the Boys Own crew were questioning from the off.

Just as Kerouac refused to be dragged into the patchouli scented embrace of the idealistic movement he helped create, by Autumn 1988' the Boys Own central committee were already kicking back against the commercialised explosion in Acid House culture : The TV documentary crews lurking around raves were mocked , the first wave of mass market ravers in top shop bought smiley t shirts were famously branded 'Teds', the plain clothes coppers in bandanas and day glo laughed at.

But whilst Kerouac's bitterness against the hippies he'd helped create solidified into a destructive, reactionary, booze fuelled hatred, the Boys Own lot carried on throwing parties, dj ing and making records, always ready to have a laugh from the side lines at the assumed self-importance of those same activities. Understandable cynicism went hand in hand with the kind of energy and nous that's ensured that the various key players remain heavily involved in the scene two and half decades later.

The Boys Own Fanzines, like Oz and International Times for the hippies, or Sniffing Glue and Vague for the punks, might have been knocked up with scissors , staples and Zerox machines, but they remain an invaluable collection of first hand accounts and sharp witted commentary documenting the pre-history, moment of inception, and after-shock of Acid House, one of the more exciting and important moments in our modern subcultural history. (This enhanced version comes with links to 15 audio playlists compiled from the individual fanzines).

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