THE LEGENDARY LOST, LAST ISSUE OF PULP, #5
By Clinton Walker, July 2020
At the start of 1978, around the time I turned 21, I moved from
Brisbane to Melbourne, for a couple of reasons: one, to get out of
Brisbane, which after the departure of my mates the Saints in early ’77
had started to seem like a lost city, or empty city (even as it was
actually on the verge of exploding all over again); and two, to get
more closely involved in putting out Pulp, the fanzine that Bruce Milne
and me had launched as a sort of twin-city title during 1977.
What actually transpired, of course, was in one respect quite the
opposite: Pulp quickly folded. But since a reconstruction of the lost,
last issue of Pulp #5 that never came out in ’78 has recently
resurfaced in 2020, or at least what remains of it, I’ve been prompted
to reflect on the whole episode.
To see this reconstruction of the last Pulp, which is thanks to
the efforts of Melynda von Wayward (Punk Journey) and Scotti Henthorn
(Fantastic Mess Records), and which was originally, ostensibly aimed at
coming out around the middle of ’78, was something that blew my mind
just a little bit. I was looking at what was most of the artworked
pages for a fifth Issue that I hadn’t seen for forty years and had
virtually totally forgotten about – and I thought it all looked quite
Of course, some remnants of Pulp #5 ended up in Inner City Sound
(ICS), and in fact, it was one of the seeds that drove the conception
of ICS in the first place, that here was this final issue of Pulp that
had never come out and so why not – I can now reflect and think maybe
this was my initial thinking – why not compile it with the previous
four issues of the zine, which obviously had fairly limited
distribution in their day, and put out a sort of best-of Pulp?
But then obviously that idea expanded during 1981, and rightfully,
to become what ICS is, which is a general sort of cut’n’paste
history-as-it-happened record of the rise of punk/post-punk/indy music
in Australia that drew on reprints from other fanzines as well as
Pulp, plus reprints of articles from Roadrunner magazine, the new endeavour
coming out of Adelaide in 1978 that Bruce and I got involved in
that was part of what spelled Pulp’s end, plus reprints too of mainly
stuff I wrote for RAM magazine, Australia’s leading rock rag of the
day, which I started working for at the start of 1980 after I’d moved
Up until only recently when I saw the mooted reconstruction of
Pulp5 and got involved to help complete it, all I had was the above
memory of the genesis of Inner City Sound, and a memory of carting
around for years a stack of the artboards that I’d started putting
together, pasting up, towards that ill-fated last issue.
Some of those pages, like the Radio Birdman interview headlined
“Radios Talk,” or Peter Nelson’s article on Crime and the City
Solution, ended up in ICS as straight reproductions, since that was
part of ICS’s agenda, to facsimilise stuff direct from its original
publication in fanzines. Some of the other stuff in ICS from Pulp5,
like a review by me of the Saints’ second album Eternally Yours, and a
feature I did on Suicide Records, were newly typeset and re-artworked
for the book, which was something else the book did, with Marjorie
Macintosh doing a fabulous job designing it all into an integrated
But those artboards I knew I carried around for a while – and this
was maybe an inch-deep stack of A4-sized stiff-card boards on which the
layouts were assembled; because that was how you did it in those days,
pasted the type and pictures down on artboards, Bainbridge Boards they
were called – I remember them and I remember having them and then I
didn’t have them. I didn’t know what happened to them, eventually.
Well, now I know. They ended up, as did so much more history like
them, in the piles of stuff in the backroom at Au-Go-Go Records, the
shop that Bruce Milne opened in Melbourne in the mid-1980s.
It was most likely there that then-employee Scotti Henthorn
happened across them one day in the course of his regular tidying-up
duties, and had the great prescience to photocopy them before they went
back in the piles thenceforth never to be seen again.
So, I’m just so grateful that Scotti had that archivist’s
prescience back when – and that Melynda von Wayward still has the
on-going passion for and dedication to documenting Australia’s punk
history that’s driven her to getting this reconstruction of Pulp5 back
out into the world. It’s like the way they rebuilt the Beach Boys’
Smile! and I’m just so chuffed that someone, anyone, has enough
interest in this that’s part of my legacy to try and keep it
alive – wow!
So what did actually happen back in Melbourne in 1978? Though it’s
still not easy to piece together all the thinking that took place, it
is possible to say that basically what happened to Pulp was -
I arrived in Melbourne towards the end of February, 1978, just
after the Pulp double-issue 3+4 had come out, and straight away Bruce
and I started working on a new issue. One of the big ideas Bruce had
for it was to include a flexidisc, by the band News, who as the Babeez
were probably Melbourne’s first punk-as-such band and one that Bruce,
short of actually managing them, had given a lot of assistance to,
including on putting out their debut single, “Dowanna Love,” at the end
Melbourne was electric with new music in the late 70s – which was
one of the other reasons I’d moved there, it all just seemed so
exciting – and one of the other things Bruce was doing at the time in
early ’78 was managing the hottest new band in town, the Young
Charlatans. Whose number included my then housemate, Jeffrey Wegener,
who was an old friend from Brisbane who’d briefly played drums with the
Saints before they left for the UK and he headed south, as I would do
too. It was perhaps because Bruce was so busy looking after the
Charlatans or perhaps because I had an aptitude for it – or both – that
I took over from him on doing the artwork for Pulp. Bruce would readily
admit that graphic art is not one of his strong suits.
In March then, as the first issue of a new zine out of Adelaide,
Roadrunner, came out, Bruce and I continued working away on the new
issue of Pulp. I was laying out pages on the stuff we already in hand.
But we needed money to print it, after Bruce had already shelled out
the cash to press up the flexidisc that News had recorded, and that’s
why we decided to put on a benefit gig. The Pulp Benefit took place at
a short-lived venue in the city called Bernhardt’s (the former Thumpin’
Tum) at the end of April ’78, and whether or not it was successful –
and that’s yet another thing I just can’t remember; I don’t remember
the night itself, surviving photos notwithstanding – it certainly
didn’t keep Pulp alive.
But I think that by then Bruce and I had been drawn into the
larger possibilities that Roadrunner presented, or that we felt it had
as it got out a couple more monthly issues, and that’s what really put
paid to Pulp. Roadrunner – Stuart Coupe and Donald Robertson – just
seemed to have so much greater grand ambition than we did. They were
talking about becoming a real rock magazine, like RAM, you know, on
newsprint, in newsagents, nationally-distributed, and with advertisers,
and I suppose it seemed to us like a shortcut to a place where we
wanted to go, piggybacking on the impetus that these guys already had
but from their perspective too, joining forces to make for a stronger
team. I do remember going over to Adelaide a couple of times and
thinking, wow, what a flat, dull little place, it’s even worse than
Nevertheless, Bruce and I ditched Pulp, with its fifth issue still
incomplete on the artboards, and threw in our lot with Roadrunner.
Bruce even moved over there, briefly, to join the RR collective, which
he was doubly encouraged to do because by then the Young Charlatans had
broken up anyway, but by June he was already back in Melbourne,
disillusioned especially by Stuart Coupe jumping ship to take up an
offer of a staff-job at Roadrunner’s aspirational-rival RAM up in
But both Bruce and I remained mainstays on the Roadrunner
mast-head nonetheless, and after Donald got national distribution for
it in 1979, it became a vibrant player on a very vibrant Australian
music media scene on the turn into the 80s.
And it was only after Bruce got back from that short stint in
Adelaide that, a) we started doing the show together on 3RRR that,
known as Know Your Product, seemed to have had some impact too, and b)
Bruce started working at Missing Link Records and working towards
launching his own label Au-Go-Go Records.
The News flexidiscs that were intended to go into Pulp5, and which
contained the song “Sweet Dancer Au-Go-Go,” which was conceived as
something of an ad jingle for Bruce’s prospective label but had to
stand as just one of the number of false-starts the label endured,
ended up being included as part of a package that Missing Link’s Keith
Glass put out in 1979 as a Babeez/News reissue called Dirty Secrets.
Following on from the first News single as such, “Dirty Lies,” which
the band put out themselves in ’78, Dirty Secrets contained a 7”
comprising two tracks from the three-track first Babeez single,
“Dowanna Love” and “Hate,” plus copies of the flexi. The release was
itself another false-start for Au-Go-Go if by any other name; the label
was finally launched later in ’79, with an EP by Two Way Garden. News
broke up at the end of ’78.
The Young Charlatans’ demise was seminal in its own right, with
Jeffrey Wegener going on to Sydney to join Ed Kuepper’s new post-Saints
band the Laughing Clowns, Rowland Howard joining the Boys Next Door,
thus marking their real rebirth as the Birthday Party, Ollie Olsen
going on to form Whirlywirld with former News-drummer John Murphy, and
Janine Hall going on to join Chris Bailey’s first incarnation of the
As for me, I kept stringing for Roadrunner, and Semper in
Brisbane, until the end of 1979 when I moved to Sydney and almost
overnight found myself a functioning, professional freelance journalist
contributing stuff to RAM, Rolling Stone and the Adelaide Advertiser:
My real baptism of fire as a writer.
But I always hung on to those old artboards from the aborted
Pulp5, and soon enough they would feed directly into the conception and
execution of Inner City Sound, and that seems, or seemed then, as
fitting an end for them as any.
Yet now they’re back again! and in as full as they can be, as
follows. I can’t remember if there were any more pages I’d artworked
that have been totally lost, but I do remember it was an unfinished
work-in-progress when we dropped it – and I’m pleasantly surprised I’m
so impressed to see it again now after all this time. I like the
critical tack it takes, and I love the way it looks. There’s nothing
about it that’s that orthodox punky safety-pins/ransom-note aesthetic
that I know for Bruce as well as me palled almost the minute it
emerged. It’s just another indication of how far ahead of the global
pack that so much that went on here in Australia was. And sad that that
headway was so soon lost.
But we tried.
News put together a Pulp benefit at Bernhardts on 30th April, 1978.
It was a six hour spectacular including News, Young Charlatans,
Boys Next Door, Two Way Garden, Fiction, and Spivs...
Photos from the Pulp benefit gig, April 1978 — Source: Clinton Walker.
Bruce Milne guest with News, Adam Five fronting News, Clinton Walker,
News flexidisc, 1978, that was meant to be issued with Pulp #5
Young Charlatans — Photo by Philip Morland.
Voigt 465, Anglers Hall Melbourne — Photo by Clinton Walker.
Bruce Milne and Peter Nelson — Photo by Philip Morland.
Clinton Walker at the typewriter — Photo by Philip Morland.