Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the pop papers say: Legacy and stances

In a week when it's been announced that the entire NME readership is lower than the average home gate at Portsmouth, it's time to take one of our semi-regular dips into the magazine.

This week, it's another backward-looking issue - 20th anniversary of the Holy Bible, which is covered in depth, and actually feels like there's something still to say about a record. It helps when the LP has some depth to it. And as a one-off, irregular thing, why shouldn't you mark two decades since a band released something so rich?

Trouble is, they're trailing that next week will be a 20th anniversary issue again. This time of Oasis. The trailer line for that is a quote from Noel in 1994 saying that the album would be what will be remembered in 20 years' time, "not incidents on ferries or drug busts or whatever". Yeah, good luck with that, Noel out of Wibbling Rivalry.

It's not just the Manics' legacy that the issue has explored. There were other questions of history to be addressed, not least the NME's cover this week:

Price - understandably - was upset that there wasn't even mention of the Melody Maker's contribution to the history the one-time rival was rifling. He suggested a though experiment:

A point well made, although... not everyone seemed to grasp it.

Who knew, though, that the MM-NME war would still be raging this long after one of the flags was lowered for the last time? Even British communists would be surprised at the longevity of ill-will emanating from IPC veterans.

With this week's ABC figures suggesting that the print edition of NME might be reaching an event horizon, you'd have thought the team on the magazine would be taking more care about how they look after the work of former associates, lest one day an team thinks it's okay to, say, pass off the Brett Anderson and David Bowie photo as their legacy.

Elsewhere, there's good things for readers to explore - Laura Snapes uses a response in Sounding Off to raise the question of why Radio 1 didn't playlist La Roux on grounds that there's a lot of "female-fronted pop acts" competing for airtime. Yeah, 2014, and apparently there's still a quota for women to get onto formidable One FM.

Equally strong is Dan Stubbs call for Insane Clown Posse to either own or condemn the Juggalos:
If Juggalos behave like a gang, then Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are their de facto leaders, whether they like it or not. And if violent crimes are being committed not just in their name, but in their honour, they need to issue a decree to the faithful telling them that it's simply not cool.

There's also a great piece on Howling Owl and how they've worked round a ban from Bristol venues. I'd have liked some more around how The Louisiana had ended up on the wrong side of scrappy pop history, but otherwise Hazel Sheffield had delivered a celebration of DIY culture that could have graced Maximum Rock & Roll. Or Punk Planet, at least.

There's a lot of heart and vibrancy in the NME at the moment, even though it's starting to get lost again in a sea of Uncut-lite jubilee articles. If they can channel that voice, and find a way to celebrate the past without just getting a Google alert that it's 20 years since X and choosing a cover based on that, there's a magazine worth fighting for there.

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