Saturday, November 29, 2003

THE VIEW FROM A HOTEL RECEPTION AREA: The legnths some people will go to: Johnny Cash dies to avoid having to sing song well-meaning Coldplay write for him, while Meat Loaf cheat death, presumably knowing if he had died on stage the other week, Coldplay would be burbling away about what an influence he had been on them. That, and the fear of a Kid Rock tribute, is enough to stop anyone heading towards the light. Madonna reckons that Britney is like her little sister, which in a way is true, we guess - younger sisters often steal their big sis' lack of clothes to go out in, don't they?; Bryan from Westlife says that when the band are over, he wants to become the President of Ireland. We know that would place him in charge of only a fairly small army and he'd not have many people's lives dependent on him, but this is still the first argument we've ever heard in favour of Westlife going on forever; Glen Campbell says it was the medication that caused the drunk-driving-cop-bashing incident - yeah, those Rol-aids can really react badly with three bottles of bourbon and a half dozen Archers Aquas.

YOU'VE GOT TO LOVE THE TECHNOLOGY: So, the WTPPS don't appear to have been served up quite as smoothly as we'd imagined... still, you've got to try these things, haven't you, as Britney said to Justin. We just hope it wasn't too disappointing, as Justin said shortly afterwards to Britney.

Friday, November 28, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAID: The end of an era
Unlike the snowboards down memory lane we've - ahem - enjoyed this week (as a holiday feature ("desperate stopgap") while I've been off giving thanks with the American side of my family, in case you missed the reasoning behind it, this pop papers is one that hasn't been produced with the benefit of hindsight; it's taken from the original home of WTPPS, bsn, from January 1st 2001, and covered the last Melody Maker of them all...

so, this is how it ends then - not with a band, but with a wanker. The last
edition of Melody maker has, perhaps unsurprisingly, got Fred Durst on the

we'll come to the double issues presently, but first... the guest

Louise whatusedtobeineternal appears in the nack on the cover of 19,
apparently in order to protest against the use of fur. We can only speculate
what socio-economic ills she's been against every time she's whacked 'em out
for FHM, then...

Wired finds space amongst the Sade reviews (who said the techno geek needed
help to get dressed, eh?) to report on a curious side-deal struck for the
new, non-corporate Radiohead: apparently, Capitol records struck a deal with
Napster-ape Aimster to promote Kid A. Kept quiet apparently because of EMI's
attempts to sue the arse of file-sharing applications elsewhere, but the
question remains: how much money has actually been pumped into sly promotion
for Yorke and the gang? and isn't all the stealth advertising for Kid A
somehow more insidious than the billboard-and-back page approach of, say,
the Corrs?...

Caroline Sullivan, the usually-reliable Guardian columnist, manages to piss
off both the cultural hawks and the pop kid doves by telling us how to
pronounce, erm, Dido. It rhymes with Fido, apparently...

Skittishly getting drunk on port, The Economist topped a Christmas issue
that saw it adopting the NME's habit of putting explanatory footnotes to
headlines by pointing out helpfully that thirty years of pop culture has
wound up with The Beatles band at number one in the album chart...

Desperate to fill space over Christmas (erm, 'take the pulse of the nation
at the year's end), The Independent's boxing day issue offered up a
selection of heroes and villains. Moby promised not to go into too mmuch
detail about the US elections, before giving us The Americans Can't Count
101. He picked Bono as his hero - also nominated by John Rocha. Because of
all the good work he did to promote the new U2 records (end world debt?
check facts here); Fay Weldon thought Elton John a hero because spending is
the greater good. Well, its two years since he last mawkishly song-fucked
the corpse of a member of the ruling classes, i suppose. Full marks for
honesty to Erik The Eel (some sort of not-very-good swimmer, apparently) for
choosing himself as his own hero.) "Nasty" Nick from Big Brother chose, erm,
Darren from Big Brother as a villain - "he got so much he's done so little"
whines Nick. Erm, mirror broken, is it? Tara Palmer-Tompkinson picked Buzz
Lightyear and Cruella DeVille, but in the world she lives on, they actually
do exist, so thats alright. The same issue featured obituaries of Victor
Borge, The Singing Postman and Jimmy Shand and an appreciation of Kirsty
MacColl. Now, that would be a hell of a jam session, wouldn't it?...

The first FHM of 2001 - look, Alyson Hannigan... aah... ooh... myum myum
myum... sorry, where were we? Oh, yeah, features one of the Appletons who
lives next door to Donna Air. So they pop round and strip off. Still, at
least Donna's finally done something with her hair - no more the frizzy
perm, even if straight hair makes her completely indistinguishable from the
vast majority of blonde women in bras who make up the meat and spuds of your
FHM covers. Not like flame haired willow, of course... and buffy is so much
cooler than Byker Grove...

Now that NME no longers encourages pop stars to dress up in silly outfits
(Damon as Debbie Harry, Ian Bunnyman as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz - hey,
Ian, we really should talk about that...), Smash Hits has filled the gap in
a special bonus issue. Paul from S Club 7 makes an unconvincing Gladiator,
but Atomic Kitten's ability to do Charlie's Angels is probably explained
both by the credit for "digital manipulation" and also, of course, that in
Ian McClusky (ex-OMD guy), they're used to getting dressed in skimpy
costumes and working to the diktats of a rich bloke who nobody can remember
ever having seen. Cruelly, Girl Thing are stopped on their trip back to the
DSS for long enough to dress up as Madonna. Keith and Shane Boyzone are
mocked even more, by being made to be Eminem. They can't of course. Shane
helpfully observes that there are a lot of beautiful women in the music
industry. No shit, sherlock. There are also a lot of tiny brained blokes.
Richard Blackwood cuts out the middle man by dressing as Craig David - apart
perhaps from Ronan Keating dressing as Daniel O'Donnell, could there be a
shorter journey? Erm, yes, actually, as Samantha Mumba is... Samantha Mumba
on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Billie does the roses in the bath thing
from American Beauty. Blimey, you can see why Chris Evans wants to date her.
(Yes, because he's on the point of being kicked off Virgin now he no longer
owns it and desperately needs to raise his profile...)

Smash hits proper has its Poll Winners list - of the Five best british band,
Britney best dressed female variety. westlife win six awards, none of them
deserved. The spice girls scoop up most of the worsts, though Liam gets sad
loser of 2000 - c'mon, he excaped Patsy and now is dating an All Saint -
can't be that much of a loser...

They say 'all farewells should be sudden' - or at least Richard Ashcroft
did, and clearly it was in the case of Melody Maker, busily trailing next
week's issue and a ten part series starting in an issue it wasn't to live to
see. Could it be that someone at IPC realised that what would have been
Volume 78, Issue 1 was set to have Papa Roach on the front and yanked the
plug out before things got any worse?

In news, Toploader say they've been "lucky" - too right, mate. Go ask Donna
Air what she did to sort her hair out and come back to us and Bis promise to
be busy next year...

They ask Marilyn Manson about the American dream - he explains that he's
trying to destroy rock stardom from the inside. Well, yeah, make it any more
ridiculous and boring and you'll probably have succeeded, pal...

Always having pretended that Mr Agreeable didnt exist in the pop papers, as
it surely is his final column (not in the nme, please god, no) let's slaute
the comedy genius: Coldplay are cunts. Muse are cunts. Toploader are cunts.
Radiohead are cunts. And Eminem is a cunt. How amusing. Cunt.

Matt Belamy from Muse is challenged that re-releasing Muscle Museum was a
cash-in. He wheedles that he was in Japan when it happened. Yeah, yeah,

'Have Oasis become a joke' asks the Maker, apparently ignoring the three
covers they gave this sideshow during their last year...

Roody Womble from Idlewild quite rightly scoffs at the idea that he'd be
worried by the success of Coldplay...

Theres some sort of two page spread that tries to depict rucks in rock as a
London tube map. The sort of thing Select (sniff) used to do incredibly
well, and the Maker, um, couldn't...

Cory Taylor from Slipknot shares the tale of a girl from Australia who
emailed him offering to slash her arm open to let him fuck the wound. Ohand
apparently, he's going to have an even more scary mask made for himself.
Probably a transparent one, then. Interestingly, for a band who are supposed
to be shaking the guts of normal rules, he baulks at someone breaking a real
taboo - nominating (in a Big Brother themed feature) Gary Glitter to be
evicted. Hmmm...

Luke Haines from Black Box Recorder has no such qualms about pleasing the
Daily Mail, suggesting his perfect Xmas bash would be burning down Hamleys
during an outing of sick children...

Phew - Justine Elastica denies ever having gone out with Bob Gillespie, and
says she has no plans whatsoever for next year. Well, next album won't be
due until 2008, will it?...

More recreation of Charlies Angels - this time Sophia Ooberman, Sarah Black
Box and Manda Bis don the outfits. Its suprisingly convincing, although
Manda's kung-fu pose looks more like a member of the Salvation Army who's
left their tamborine at home...

"Evil" from the Bloodhound Gang talks about the maddest moments of 2000. Tee
hee, he went with two women from Hooters at the same time. At the same time.
There was the news, though, that Lupus pissed into Mel C's waterbottle when
they were both on TFI Friday...

Damon Gough out of Baldy Drawn Boy reveals his hat is stuck on with maggots
and mould. Yum. Not that it matters, with that beard nobody's ever gonna
want to take your hat off...

"People who don't like us are immensely strange" says Chris Coldplay. Yeah,
and people who do like you are incredibly, incredibly NORMAL. Maybe Mr.
Agrreeable had a point. He also reckons that Teenage Fanclub "do the sort of
thing we do." If anyone has access to a musicologist, or even a half-deaf 84
year old, and would like to disprove this, we'll be happy to hear...

There's an interesting 'after they were famous' feature - most shocking of
all Leon Mayer of Northern Uproar now works as a hairdresser, and looks like
Josh out of Toploader, but... erm, a sexy version. Fuck. I fancy one of
Northern Uproar. Other gems include Dave Hill out of Slade now being a
councillor, Rick Buckler from the Jam working with antiques (not so very
different from having stuck with Weller, then) and Miki Lush now subediting
Tv Times...

Two pages are spent trying to establish why Hilary Woods won the sexiets
female in Rock award - a JJ72 fan called Paul reckons the band would still
have been succesful even if she'd been a "minger." Paul is, of course,
spectacularly ugly. The editor of The Sport offers her a job in its table
dancing club. Only Tim O'Leary off Brookside actually points out that she
wouldn't stand out of a crowd...

The poster pullouts are all of Radiohead. and all from 2000. so, thats
several pictures of Thom looking grim and trying not to appear like a man
who is now able to buy the whole of the Thames Valley and fill it with

Daphne and Celeste dress up as pop stars - Celeste does eminem, daphne does
fred durst... and run for your lives, Paul Draper confirms that Chad is
still working on his solo stuff...

Gail Porter (some sort of topless model, apparently) reviews the films of
the year and manages to not say anything bad without adding a positive
'but'. She even can't bring herself to slag 'Kevin and Perry Go Large'...

Lauren Laverne does the TV of the year, happily slagging The Royle Family as
"just grim" and pointing out that media poshos sneering at council houses
isn't much of a groundbreaker. And then suggests that the rich cow who won
Millionaire should spend the cash on having her scab removed. And, in six
words, sums up the basic problem with Big Brother: "They were all such
horrible people..."

Four pages of Fred Durst, anyone? Look, he's pretending to piss on the
Christmas tree. Look, he's holding mistletoe... but giving the finger. Ah,
but don't hate him - apparently our hatred will only fuel Limp Bizkit
further, and he says he'll kiss us on the lips if he sees us...

Mark Greaney from JJ72 says the band are going to spend 2001 taking heroin
and cocaine. Sadly, he's only joking...

Albums of the year - Marshall mathers at 1, Coldplay parachutes 2; Badly
Drawn's Bewilderbeast at 3. Daphne and Celeste's 'we didn't...' comes in at
36, one place ahead of Asian Dub Foundation...

Singles of the year - Groovejet/Spiller 1; Stan/Eminem 2; Yellow/Coldplay 3
(eh?). And can anyone explain why Thong Song is at 11 and Opps I Did It
Again down at 46?...

When praised for the line "Dope, guns and fucking in the streets", Brian
Molko immodestly fails to point out that it isn't his...

Kelly Jones whines he doesn't want to be doing fireworks and screams all his
life. Well, go and work in a shitty cheese shop, you ungrateful sod...

and finally, as far as the melody maker is concerned, forever, dougie payne
is in psychobabble. He thinks his life is most like 'The Man Who Fell To
Earth" and would like lack of manners to be illegal...

Sniff. A hastily inserted A5 sheet reads "we're sorry to tell you that this
is the very final weekly issue of Melody Maker. From next week we'll merge
with NME, the world's biggest music weekly... You've been great. Stay

Talking of the NME, its got a double, too. They had the exclusive on that
Manics Cuba gig - apparently, the only place in the world where they could
charge the going rate for a gig and still be worth the money (17pence, of

On has its own top 20 records - At The Drive In at number 1, The For
Carnation at 2 and Sugababes - not Superdrag, dammit - at three with

Spiller is the On Dance single of the year, too...

NME take Muse to the Eden Project in Cornwall. Matt Belamy hates feeling
reliant on people, which is a bit of a bugger seeing as his career hangs on
the whims of several coke-addled music biz execs and a few thousand record

The Charlatans answer reader's questions - my "Tim, will you marry me"
having gone astray, we get instead to find out why he doesn't miss England -
they have Pizza Hut, Starbucks and McDonalds in America as well. Blimey,
you'll get MTV in the States next. But Tim doesn't see him taking a kiddie
to any fast food restaurant soon - "unless you count my dog."...

Norman Cook and, oh god, Anna off Big Brother (are you lot still here? what,
the bus not turned up yet?) look back over the big stories of the year.
Apparently Anna is going to cling to her worn out welcome mat to "go round
the world talking to women" for BBC TV next year. Right. Hats off to Sylvia
Patterson for pointing out to Norman that, yeah, while he may be dead in a
hundred years and so doesn't care if the human race cant last, that his son
might not be. Ah...

Doves go for a pint, and explain there's a boxer on the album cover because
its about "fighting your corner..."

Ash make the paper Christmas lunch, and more of your heroes crumble:
Charlotte believes Mo is the best thing that's ever happened to

Johnny Greenwood does, erm, an interview. Like Radiohead don't do. Hardly
ever. Lets pretend he didn't...

Eminem's mum claims that Slim and Kim's split is all some sort of twisted
media stunt... (surely not?)...

Another Coldplay interview, then. Interest us, Chris: "I'd really like it if
I didn't swear."...

Daphne and Celeste (had NME and MM already merged for this issue?) go buying
presents for people. Brian Molko gets purple nail varnish and a charm
bracelet; britney gets a bottle of virginity restorer - handy, that, she
could keep scoring seven million dollars time and again; and eminem can look
forward to unwrapping a can of penis enlarger...

nme singles of the year 1 - real slim shady/eminem; 2- yellow/coldplay; 3 -
caught out there - kellis. In the lower reaches there's a surprise mention
of saint etienne's heart failed in the back of a taxi...

albums - queens of the stone age are at number one (that'll be us going
"eh?" when it appears in 'Lest We Forget' in a couple of years); XTRMNTR at
2, and PJ Harvey's 'songs from...' at three. As ever, the NME album choices
are more interesting and debatable than the Makers, and (inevitablity) thna
its readers will be...

nme films of the year fails to find a slot for High Fidelty, but does
include Virgin suicides...

tv 2000 places Nasty Nick ahead of Jam and seems to think that awful Judy
Finnegan bra thing was in any way a great moment...

and, more or less, thats it. This edition of what the pop papers say is
dedicated to starcrossed spitfires, who will get a pint of beer each if they
can get their name on the cover of the NMEnwMMfef before next christmas...

Thursday, November 27, 2003

SO MUCH TO BE THANKFULL FOR: Glastonbury 2004 gets the go-ahead without any strings this time round - mega-fence seems to have done the trick; unless all the local objecters have finally realised they're on a losing kick and moved out; Mark off Pop Idol finds screaming fans 'scary' - don't worry Mark, we're sure it's not something you'll have to be fretting about for too much longer; Mark Knopfler's become a dad again at 54 - we're sure a screaming infant will be incompatable with a near-senior citizen writing new songs, so it truly is a blessing for all concerned;Shops are running short of Will Young's new single, so at least some kids are going to actually get what they wanted for Christmas - the ones whose parents turned up after the singles had gone, of course; The Cheeky Girls have been mugged in Oxford Street - somehow, they both ended up bruised and scratched despite only one of them having their bag stolen, so they really are like some single-organismed double headed freaky deaky nightmare, and we've won a ten pound pub bet; Justin Timberlake's granny thinks Cameron Diaz is too immature for him - if only Laura Bush wasn't out of the dating game, eh?; and The Darkness have been inspired by a visit to Alcatraz Prison, although just to write a song and not to abandon music for a life of crime.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAID: No.1, March 15th 1986 43p

This was when Number One was still owned by IPC, who founded it to be the pop version of their footy mag Shoot!, and long before it got sold to the BBC who tried to turn it into a big brother for Fast Forward (Fast... Fast... Forward), and as such it was still in its 'desperate to be Smash Hits' phase.

Is this a pudgy Boy George on the cover? No, it's Martin Degville, from Sigue Sigue Sputnik proclaiming "I hate all women - especially fat ones." We're vague on the details, but we're not sure that's going to have helped them build a fan base.

Stuff (it's the poor man's Bitz) reports on Sam Fox's debut single. Zoe Williams, who ran the Spandau Ballet fan club, said "I think she should stick with her big boobs. I'd burn it - and her bra." Righto. They were looking for a new Milky Bar kid as the current one, Robbie Humphries had hit puberty - No.1 tried to pretend they were suggesting it as a career move for an 8-12 year old "younger brother." In those days, that was the best a kid could hope for - we didn't have S Club Juniors back then.

Alison Bettles - Fay from Grange Hill - filled out her "Intimate details" (she wasn't the one who shagged Michael Winner, you're quite safe). "When I'm dressed up I can look older than 17" she promised, with a big wink.

For some reason, the magazine thought its readers might want to also meet easterhouse, so printed a picture and warned they "don't dress up as bunnies." Simon Le Bon lost absolutely no fans.

In the Sigue Sigue Sputnik piece, Tony James claimed "I don't turn heads, I stop trains." Which must have come in handy as even then it was clear his future was more likely to lead towards working in British Rail than in British music.

Madonna's new found affection for Britney Spears had a pre-echo, as Whispers reported that she attended Patsy Kensit's 18th birthday party - so she's made a habit of hanging around young blondes who can't act for tuppence, then.

Blimey, another Intimate Details - this one by Steve Wright. Who's the most beautiful woman, Steve? "Apart from my wife, Mother Theresa, just because she's such a beautiful person."

She was in Wham. Then she married Weller. But Dee C Lee also had a brief solo career: "Labour at the moment are complete arseholes" she warns. Yeah, Neil Kinnock was such a bloody Tory, wasn't he?

The centre poster is Simon LeBon, laying on his front and dressed like, um, your uncle at christmas - horrible knitted pullover and thick hiking socks. What was he thinking?

Because it was coming up to St Patricks Day, No. 1 decided to give the entire island's musical talent a whole page to itself - but even then had to top it up with a large picture of Terry Wogan.

Things we generally didn't know: Doctor Robert of the Blow Monkeys played cricket for England Schoolboys and signed as an apprentice with Norwich City. How different would the worlds of sport and music been had he chosen to follow that path? (Clue: almost identical to the way they are now.)

Reviews - singles
chakk - imagination - "guaranteed to send shcokwaves through most dancefloors", 5
the young ones & cliff richard - living doll - "there are a few laughs", 3

the redskins - neither washington nor moscow - "a pefect banner for socialsim", 5
red lorry yellow lorry - paint your wagon - "bang shout bang twang music", 2

The back page pin-ups are Depeche Mode. From before all the leather and rudeness.

And finally: Sandy X writes to the letters page - supposedly edited by a dog, in a desperate attempt to play catch up with Smash Hit's legendary Black Type - to accuse Patsy of not just being a "so-called sex kitten but also you're nothing more thank a pathetic Durannie." She got a five quid record token for that, and all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAID: Record Mirror, April 18th 1987

The devastatling handsome Mark Shaw graced the cover - we suspect he still has the picture framed hanging on a wall somewhere in his house. We'd forgotten how awful the layout of RM (as it had become by this time) actually was - the first of the inkies to turn into a glossy magazine, a format it never quite mastered but managed to work for the best part of a decade; things always seemed to have been dumped on the page rather than placed.

It's straight in with Index, a kind of poor man's Thrills - this week giving away an Adrian Mole computer game (Commodore 64) and an extended Maxi Priest single. The formation of Crowded House is afforded a short blurb, and editor Betty Page chooses their Don't Dream Its Over as one of her 'earbenders' (along with Alison Moyet and, um, Go West.) Even more surprisingly, full page ads for Level 42 and Mel and Kim are scattered across the magazine - there's something of a stench of confusion over who, exactly, they're trying to appeal to - many of the writers were very indie purist, there was the whole dance element which would eventually win out and take the magazine into oblivion, but there's also a lot of hints that advertisers saw the magazine as the one for people who'd grown out of Smash Hits, and were drifting away from music but not quite ready to admit they were retuning to Radio 2 yet.

Reviews next (see? what's with this layout?)
Mel & Kim - FLM - "It's easy to take the piss out of Mel & Kim [but] Stock Aitken & waterman have created an album strong on Melody with no boring or embarrassing ballads" (Are you listening, twenty-first century R&B producers?), 5
David Bowie - never Let me Down - "featuring Hollywood brute Mickey Rourke in a dire mid-song rap" - 2 and a half

"just being able to take a low, harsh emotion and turn it into something beautiful makes me happy" says Kristin Hersh, offering a rare mental image of any of the Throwing Muses smiling. "Most people would like me to pick up and carry their pain. I don't even carry mine around with me." How they fib during the early press, eh?

Lip, Nancy Culp's gossip column, comes on like a proto-heat - Genesis P Orridge detained at customs for "bringing two guitars into the country" (we're meant to be shocked, but I'm guessing the Customs guys had just heard his records and were trying to do the right thing); meanwhile, Debbie Harry was also having trouble in the green channel, smirking "You're five years too late" at the guys searching every last corner of her suitcases. Honey, they weren't seeking drugs, they were stealing panties...

Carole Linfield did the singles - pick of the pops were The James Taylor Quartet - Blow Up ("has no place in today's chart and very, very welcome") and The Smiths - Sheila Take A bow ("Morrissey's passion here seems to be the ambiguous, sexually disorientating love of the transvestite")

also under consideration:
the close lobsters - never seen before - "a lloyd cole who's gargled with sulphuric acid"
toyah - echo beach - "weren't there more verses in the original?"

then comes InFact, the charts and dance segment (we know they don't really go together, we know). James Hamilton reports that "Les Adams has given Jaki Graham a 0-79 and a quarter - 83 and one seventh - 73 and one quarter bpm megamix" and reports on a meeting with someone called Phyllis Hyman, a name we think he was trying to break.

Alan Jones, meanwhile, was noting that Five Star's The Slightest Touch was, because the sixth track from Silk and Steel, equalling the hits-from-one-album record established by Michael Jackson. Ferry Aid was number one. Dark days indeed.

In regular "what would take into a nuclear bunker" feature Bunking Up, Ian McNabb chose to spend his time while the world outside was being terrorised by giant cockroaches talking about Indians with Marlon Brando and using Baby Bio as a sex aid on Lt. Uhura.

Martin from Swing Out Sister muses that "a staggering 1000 people went out and bought [debut single] Blue Mood" - even more staggering is that nowadays, that'd be top 20, surely?

It was hard for Martin Shaw to attract Sly (of Sly and Robbie)'s attention because he was too busy playing with a new toy - "a computerused Filofax called the Psion Organiser."

"No matter how I dress it down, as a band we're better looking than most and I'd be a fool if I wasn't aware of that. That's why I said we want to be takenm seriously as a rock band, and that's why it's taken time. I still get asked why we don't get U2 fans at our gigs, but it's happening now... I'm paranoid about alienating the rock fans, because they're the hard audience who will ultimately stay with us." Clearly, judging by the venues U2 and Then Jerico play now, Mark Shaw must have said something to piss off the rock audience mightily.

AIDS day, Brixton Academy - Pete Burns turned up on stage to help out Bronski Beat

Kirk Brandon, between fucking Boy George and losing a court case to try and prove it never happened, got interviewed. Would his angry young man persona ever fade? "You can become really boring, being angry all the time" he warns.

A Glasgow band musical family tree manages to mention The Bluebells and Lloyd Cole but, presumably to free up space for Bourgie Bourgie, doesn't make any link between Altered Images and The Bluebells. Research, eh?

And finally: personals: "Boy george - thanks for a brilliant time at Wembley, you were the star of the show (Fleet Street got it wrong AGAIN!) Good luck with everything you do in the future! All my love, always! Elaine xx

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAID: Smash Hits 24 April - 7 May 1985 43p

Nick rhodes simmers on the cover, enough hair to feed a family of four and wearing a jacket made from sacking. "Exposed! Nick Rhodes judges your photos" - the kindest you could say was getting the man behind that book of fuzzy Polaroids to judge a photo competition was on a par with asking Simon LeBon to choose the winners at a marine safety event, but it was Nick Rhodes, so its forgiveable. Even now, we'd let him squint at our overexposed 5 by 9s.

Inside front poster: Spandau Ballet. they're standing in Sydney - of course the bridge and opera house in the background. Tony Hadley is smiling the false smile of a father giving his daughter away at a Hells Angels wedding and the Kemp Brothers have used way too much Sun-In.

This is classic era Hits - so the kick off is Bitz, as it should be. Alannah Currie was regretting that Tom Bailey's collapse from exhaustion (at the Holiday Inn, Chelsea) meant the Thompson Twins weren't going to be able to play "the Glastonbury CND Festival, but we urge all our fans to go along anyway and offer maximum support to the cause" - ah, the days when Glasto looked wobbly if the Thompson Twins pulled out. And there was a whole column dedicated to saying farewell to a Smash Hits journo quitting to concentrate on his band - "but put away the hankies girls, for Bitz predicts that in a matter of weeks Neil's pop duo The Pet Shop Boys will be down the dumper and he'll come crawling back on bended kees hahaha."

Does Rat Scabies miss Captain Sensible now that he's quit the Damned for a short lived career as purveyor of novelty records, asks a brave Tom "Tom" Hibbert. "I resented it a bit when he became a big fat pop star... but at the same time it was so great that the Captain had done it, especially with Happy Talk, because that song really is the Captain." Captain Sensible a half-forgotten crowd pleaser from a musical? Really?

C&A were launching their new Avanti range - "a new collection for fast dressers", and it certainly looked like the Morrisseyesque model had put his cotton gillet shirt (£7.99) and cotton trousers (£14.99) on in a hurry.

Nowadays, the Sony Radio Awards are somewhat po-faced, handed out according to the whims of a bunch of experts. twenty years ago, the best local and national djs were reliant on the readership of the Hits filling out little forms in the hopes of winning a CFS950 radio-tape recorder. They were waterproof, you know.

ABC are interviewed, although it's little bald bloke and scary woman in beret era. Unwisely, they all had "characters" for this incarnation. Martin Fry was clinging to a belief that the band were a cross between "Afrika Bambarta and the Banana Splits" and apparently blissfully unaware that he'd be having to dig out the gold lame suit for the cabaret circuit as soon as he could shake off David Yarritu and Eden.

Singles were being weighed by Roland Orzabal from Tears For Fears. SOTF - The Dukes of Stratosphear - The Mole From The Ministry - "you can sing The Beatles' I Am The walrus to it"
David Lee Roth - Just A gigolo/ I Aint Got Nobody - "It's an odd cover version, isn't it? It won't be a hit"
Freddie Mercury - I Was Born To Love You - "I don't think much care was taken over this - you shoudl try and make sure that a single has its own identity - the cover, the the video, generally how it's presented."
Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine - "It's a good song with a nice refrain" (Is it just us, or does Roland sound less like a musician and more like Prince Charles being positive about some kids putting on a gang show?)

Albums - Bon Jovi - Bon Jovi - "very loud Journey style rock which sometimes sounds like Quiet Riot", 6
The Colour Field - Virgins and Philistines - "the usual mournfull australians", 7 and a half)

Was it really fair to make Kim Wilde drag up a recently dead love affair? Well, normally yes, but it was with Eddie Tenpole Ed Tudor Pole Tudor, which is the sort of thing we'd let her off with

Hey! Intertextuality - Linda Duff's Get Smart is asked who that Susan Williams, who kept popping up on Whistle Test actually is. She is, of course, "Steven Michael Wells" who, two years later, would be asking people shopping in Virgin if Terence Trent D'arby was a racist on behalf of NME.

The Nat West people were launching a new account where, if you collected 15 Cadbury's wrappers, you could get a a free £2 credit to your account. It was called the Online Account, although, of course, the closest it came to high-technology was the free calculator you got.

Nasher Nash completed a Personal File - "These are my Pleasure Dome socks - lovely, arran't they? Only £6." Which was a lot of money in those days.

A Jesus & Mary Chainstore writes to Black Type to point out that Morrisey's lines "So rattle my bones all over the stones, 'cos I'm only a beggarman who nobody owns" was in fact pinched from Thomas Noel's 1841 poem. We like to think young SPM sucked a pen and wrote a certain song about how there's always someone, somewhere with a big nose who knows in response.

New Edition are being interviewd - interestingly, Bobby Brown doesn't actually turn up.

Finding Anne Pigalle being given two pages comes as something of a surprise - but not as much of a surprise as the Smash hits line of questioning came to her: "I've only made one record," she suddenly explodes, "Why on earth are you asking me about my mother?"

The winner of Nick Rhodes' competition was Judith McCartney, who'd taken a picture of Tok (out of Tik and Tok). Subject, winner and judge all had the same hairstyle. I sense a fix of some sort.

Live review: The Smiths at the Royal Albert Hall. "Pete Burns joins Morrissey onstage. He doesn't do much."

Finally, from RSVP: "Meat is murder! Don't you think? I'm a little punky and into The Cure, The Smiths. Also like black clothes. Come on boys, write to me: Margaret Uiterwijh, Holland"

Monday, November 24, 2003


One of the things I forgot the NME used to do, you know, is carry the name of the writer of the main feature on the cover - thus, we're tempted by 'Citizens Kane: Hue and Cry Interviewed by Stuart Cosgrove.' When did the paper last have such confidence that in theri writers to give them front-page billing? Although, of course, it's not the picture of the poor man's Tony Parsons and the thinking man's Andrew Ridgeley that was Hue and Cry that would have had people staring at the fornt page this week - it'd be the 'Smiths Split?' splash on the top right.

Page three is given over to contents (wasn't that one the things meant to be radical about the 2003 remix?) and a large picture of Captain Beefheart.

Considering that the received wisdom of What The Web has done is to move news hungry kids from print to the screen, it's curious that there was so little news in the '87 NME - just two pages (and a news extra on page 33). Madonna was given the green light to play Wembley, although local residents had mounted fierce objections - "You mark our words, she'll start snogging young girls on stage if we don't put our feet down" said one, while the collapse of Plymouth Rock Festival had left a whole big mess of refunds that might never have been sorted out yet. Vindaloo - home of the mighty Ted Chippington and Fuzzbox - ended its distro deal with WEA. The major kept hold of Fuzzbox, but were surprisingly not so keen to keep releasing Chippington's records.

Curiously, the Beatles were taking legal action against Capitol Records, claiming that a delay in getting their stuff out on CD had cost them squillions of pounds (keta-trillions in today's money.) Well, at least they'll have learned a lesson and if a new format developed in the future they wouldn't refuse to allow their music to be left out this time round, would they? [Checks iTunes]. Oh...

WH Smiths had banned Appetitie for Destruction but Boots and Wooloworths were happy to carry on doing so - yes, Boots used to be one of the biggest record retailers in the realm. Meanwhile, following a spate of Beastie Boy style badge pinching, Volkswagen stepped in to offer free VW badges for all.

But the big news, of course, was the Smiths schism - by page 5, the question mark of the cover had gone, and the nme was suggesting it was all over bar the shouting, a slew of greatest hits collections, a couple of unpleasant court cases and a diminshing returns solo career. Marr was telling friends in Manchester he was sick of Mozzer acting the "self centred star" (which is a bit like whining that Marilyn Monroe is blonde) and Morrissey was ticked off at Marr working with the likes of Keith Richard and Bobby Womack.

Thrills in '87 had yet to complete its transformation from smash-and-grab shorts into a pisstake assault on rock, and still had a newsy agenda - Mickey Bradley was more or less using the space to beg the rest of the Undertones to get back together, something the paper thought unlikely, what with the success that That Petrol Emotion were about to have. (Remember, this was before Thrills became all piss-taking, all the time); the column was taking the credit for inventing grebo and getting ready to pat itself firmly on the back as The Bambi Slam crushed all competition before them. And it provided a home to Rockets Passing Overhead, Stephen appleby's debut strip ("for badges send a stamp addressed envelope plus 1 loose 18p stamp per badge..." - thank good the Guardian feeds him now. And there was a Shaky Kane cartoon, too, taking the piss out of Suzanne Vega. "I think I have to be blatant" said Cliff Richard, quotingly, "and say the Sex Pistols are the worse thing that ever happened." Maybe, but at least it took the heat off the crucifixion, eh, Cliff?

Aaah... when Loop last did an interview and talked about drugs, James' mum phoned up and demanded he go home straight away. But, they admit to Danny Kelly that they don't really do drugs when they're playing - "we tried it and we couldn't play a sodding note." Nowadays, of course, they'd still stick the demos out as an "insight into the music making process."

Rock and Roll will pull the white man down to the level of the negro. That's not me saying that, that was Terence Trent D'arbys tshirt. Steven Wells was sent to investigate if, you know, that made D'arby some sort of, you know, racist. Both then editor Alan Lewis and future editor Danny Kelly are called to account as to how the NME carried an advert with the slogan. You forget that the paper used to be like this - concerned, sometimes to the point of parody, with ideas and politics and statements. Clearly, this case was one which a half-beat of synaptic activity would have dismissed - even Alanis would have spotted that it was an ironic thing for a black rock and roll chap to be quoting (the original of the statement had been made in the White Citizen's Council of Alabama in 1954, when it was somewhat less than satirical) - but it's a pity there's no longer the sense that what rock and pop people do matters that much. Even the attempts to document the struggles of the So Solids against the government have been muted.

On the same page, Swells also considers the claims that Prince is an emissary of Satan, made by one Alex Maloney. The Staffordshire cabbies claimed that Prince promotes darkness by hiding backwards messages in his songs (a harmless pursuit long since ruined by the death of vinyl); having spent three columns considering straight-faced that D'arby might be racist, Swells at least manages to see this as slightly risible. You wonder what Maloney makes of Prince's current role knocking on doors flogging Watch Tower - probably, in the way of religious fanatics, he sees that as confirmation of his satanic nature rather than putting him in the clear.

"They act out this year's shrewdest gimmick - pop fratricide." So, in effect, Oasis are little more than a tabloid reworking of Hue and Cry, are they?

1987 - there was still a communist East, there were still two Germanys, and the Christians were still a going concern. More interesting than anything they had to say about playing in Berlin were the words of Johannes, NME's guide, explaining why he wanted to take the risk of crossing the Wall - "In the East, there are only three good discos, and in the West, I think there are many." So that was what was in the minds of those crowds the historic day the Berlin Wall came down - "Must get to Cinderella Rockerfellas..."

Nowadays, Radar is the new bands slot. Back then, radar was the TV & Film section - something that's fallen by the wayside a little, but that's probably as explained by a range of other titles muscling more single-mindedly onto the territory as any lack of interest in the general culture. On telly, it was a momentus week, with MTV coming to Europe. Back in '87, only 7% of the country could get the channel and NME was giving a grudging welcome to a service that counted Robert Maxwell as its majority shareholder. If you'd have told them in the future they'd be gleefully signing up for a chart show on an MTV channel, they'd have spat in your face.

Also long gone is Manifesto, the short-lived political column - this week about the Poll Tax (we have a vague recollection that every week it was about the Poll Tax.

SOTW was A Primary Industry - Heart of Glass ("the dance track you've been waiting to pay good money for")
Also up for consideration: Tom Jones - What's New Pussycat ("I'm glad they rushed this out before Jonathan Ross could get to it")
Roxanne Shante - Have a Nice Day ("watching women rap is like watching women join the army - someone else got there first."
Spacemen 3 - Transparent Radiation ("this really is the music of the future."

A smattering of interviews: The Dave Howard Singers - you might recall Yon Yonson, who works in Wisconsin, even if you'd forgotten the Canadian who sang about him; The Hoodoo Gurus ("If they don't crack it in the next three months" predicts Terry Staunton "they probably never will") and Alexander O'Neal: "if they think I'm a successor to marvin gaye, I'll take it, but I'm not going to be the encroacher."

The centre pages are given over not to pull-out posters, but an advert for Nat West. With Adrian Edmondson and almost the word "bastard" in it.

Album reviews (still called "33"):
Guns N Roses - Appetite for Destruction - "the sweat of prisoners as opposed to the perspiration of inspiration"
Dead Can Dance - Within The Realm of A Dying Sun - "could well be A-Ha or Ultravox on a gloomy day"
Madonna - Who's That Girl - "looking like Margi Clarke with a lobotomy"

Live reviews
The Fall - Finsbury Park - "Mark E Smith is still the Pope of post-punk pre-grebo abstract expressionism"
Big Black - Hammersmith Clarendon - "look like the Feelies after a night out corpse-molesting
The Stone Roses - Manchester International (reviewed by Dave Haslam; this was before they were cover fodder) - "at times their fine artistry is marred by a sulky, confrontational influence learned from Theatre of Hate"

There's a two page spread on Hispanic Music, which we guess must have seemed like a great idea at the time, as it really did seem like a coming thing; that by 1988 we'd all be grooving to Little Louie Vesa and Midnight Fantasy. The only names we recognise out the whole piece are Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam and, erm, "Gloria, of Miami Sound Machine."

Sean O'Hagan - who would go on to be a proper journalist - edited Angst, having to referee a spat between Don Watson and Toby Young. Watson was miffed because the week before a letter from Young had banged on about an incident in a taxi. Didn't follow it then, don't really follow it now. And proto-pseudo-gossip columnist Dick Nietzsche was claimign that Mel out of Mel and Kim was actually George Melly. You trying telling kids of today that... they'd think you were mad.

And finally, in the personals: "Bee Gees fan would like to hear from any Gibb fans. Write Rick Box No. 7014." So desperate for friends was young Rick he didn't care if you didn't even like them all.