Author:Edited by Mark Sinker
Val Wilmer, Jon Savage, Jonathon Green, Richard Williams, Penny Reel, Alan Lewis, Cynthia Rose, Barney Hoskyns, Betty Page, Savage Pencil, Liz Naylor. If these names immediately evoke a time and place, you will get something out of this book.
In 2015 ex-editor of The Wire, Mark Sinkler, organized a conference in Birkbeck College on the music press culture of the 1960-80s. The writers I listed and some of the celebrity journos of that era, the likes of Charles Shaar Murray and Paul Morley, participated in a series on one-to-one interviews and round-table discussions.
This book transcribes these discussions to provide an oral history of the overground and underground music press of that time. It starts with early 60s Melody Maker, moves through the International Times/Oz-dominated late 60s, and the tarries for quite a while in the 70s when NME (obviously) – and Sounds as well – were in their pomp. It peters out as Smash Hit, The Face, and coloured glossies like Q and Mojo appear.
It was published in 2018 by the always interesting Strange Attractor press and I bought it then. However, the very Morley-esque introduction by Sinker put me off. I recently picked it up again and went straight to the first chapter which is a fascinating conversation between Richard Williams and Val Wilmer on trying to cover black music culture in the late 50s and 60s. I read the rest of the book in pretty much a day. As usual Charlie Murray is great value for money. I know he is always happy to claim he was the saviour of the NME in the early 70s, but many of the other writers here agree with him. Of course, the Parsons/Burchill/Bushell period when they were all in their Punk Year Zero/Socialist Worker phase is covered in some detail.
The Paul Morley, Barney Hoskyns, Jonh Ingham round-table is fascinating. Morley freely admits he was,using his words to, almost magickly, invoke the world he wanted into existence. Some of the conversations on unrecognized bias in co-opting black culture in an absence of black journalists are quite sharp and astute.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Green’s Days in the Life. People who read, and miss, Melody Maker, NME, Sounds. You know proper music newspapers.
One thing you’ve learned
Was the influence James Hamilton at the Record Mirror had on dance music. Also, although most of the participants are not fans of the Q school of music writing anyway, there is quite a bit of animus towards Mark Ellen.