Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Music for the Masses

Happy Birthday New Musical Express....60 today.

I have to admit that, although I have (in the very distant past) bought multiple copies of the NME (though as my youth was so long ago I think I'm justified in no longer following 'youth culture') I was never a huge fan of the paper. To me the NME was always the ENEMY...especially where preferred alternative bands were concerned. From my point of view it was always SOUNDS or Melody Maker, now both sadly defunct, which led the way in (relatively) objective (and entertaining) news and reviews and informative pieces about the underground, alternative and just plain weird.

The NME was always too right-on for it's own good, too much about attitude and with no real heart. OK so the NME was the first to feature a pop chart, and one of the first to recognise the punk scene, but it also championed, at various times, psychedelia, prog rock and 'Madchester' (amongst many crimes too numerous to mention) AND, in the most damning indictment of all, at one stage had BOTH Tony Parsons AND Julie Birchill writing for it.

SOUNDS, Melody Maker and (very occasionally) the NME were, however, all essential weekly elements in a world before the internet or MTV (if you can believe such a place ever existed), bringing the innocent minds of Britain's youth to new concepts such as the Dead Kennedys, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Age of Chance, Gaye Bykers on Acid, Einsturzende Neubauten, Dead can Dance, Cabaret Voltaire, Nitzer Ebb, Die Krupps, Nirvana, Die Toten Hosen, Siousxie and the Banshees, Foetus, SPK, Front 242, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, the Damned,  Portion Control, Pop Will Eat Itself, Joy Division, Diamanda Galas, Fields of the Nephilim, Laibach, The Leather Nun, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sisters of Mercy, Nine Inch Nails, the Young Gods, Pigface, RevCo, Severed Heads, Hula, Swans, Throbbing Gristle, Test Department etc etc.....

Of course I still know what the first record that I ever purchased was (together with my brother as neither of us could then afford it independently) and yes I still own it (though by rights it should still be shared between us I guess) and no it wasn't inspired by anything that either of us had read in the NME or other associated papers.

It was, for the 'record':

'BBC Sound Effects no. 19: Dr Who Sound Effects'
(an album by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop bought, in 1978, for the princely sum of £1.99)

......not sure this will ever appear in my much-imagined episode of Desert Island Discs, but looking again at the track-list, which contains such gems as "The Central Control Room In Exillon City", "Metebelis III Atmosphere", "Styre's Scouting Machine (Approach, Stop, Search, Depart)" a selection of sci-fi weaponry (including three blasts of a 'Gallifreyan Staser' and two from a 'Fission Gun') and (my own personal favourite) "Atomic Reactor Runs Wild" (always a great hit at parties), I am transported back to more innocent, sepia-tinted times.

Anyway, 'Happy Birthday' NME (1952-2012), but, more importantly, lest we forget, RIP Melody Maker (1926-2000) and RIP SOUNDS (1970-1991).

We shall not see their like again.

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