New Musical Express
February 25, 2012 7:49 PM   Subscribe

God, I remember that Blur v Oasis cover - that's almost 20 years ago now!! I bought the NME every week back then, in the newsagent in Tara Street DART station. Enjoyable article, cheers.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:56 PM on February 25, 2012

I still have that Stone Roses issue in a box somewhere, bought while I was living in England my junior year and lovingly hoarded all these years.
posted by scody at 8:09 PM on February 25, 2012

This doesn't have a happy ending.
posted by scrowdid at 8:31 PM on February 25, 2012

NME is what it is.

When I was in London in 1995 (the Britpop thing was all the rage) nobody over the age of 20 took it seriously as anything other than a source for breaking music news and concert listings. But they took those two things very seriously.

A few years earlier, Jello Biafra (it's a long story) told me that anyone could buy the cover for $50,000 (or was it $20,000?). You'd get your band's picture on it and a feature interview with someone who was guaranteed to be at least slightly enthusiastic.

And then there's the story of the reviewer who'd show up at gigs with her reviews already written, sit way at the back and get drunk.
posted by philip-random at 10:00 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rigged Charts in the NME

Advertisements in the NME

Multinationals in the NME

Me and Madonna hate the NME
posted by alex_skazat at 11:19 PM on February 25, 2012

In hindsight, it feels to me like there was a tension between what the journalists wanted to write about, and what the publishers wanted them to write about. The latter being far more interested in (often generic) British guitar bands, whereas many of the journalists wanted to write about hiphop or other music that was a bit outside the interests of their readers (take a look at the best album lists for the 1980s, only three white artists, De La Soul winning in 1989 ahead of Doolittle and The Stone Roses).

I feel like there was some interesting music to be discovered in the album reviews and the smaller features, but the publishers were much more comfortable sticking Carter USM or the Wonderstuff or a minor story on Morrissey or the Stone Roses on the cover. Even so, for someone living at the other end of the world as I was, 1980s/90s NME was a crucial tool in finding out about new music.

Not surprised to see that classic Stone Roses cover there. The Slits one is maybe just a little bit sexist. Blur/Oasis makes sense I guess. The Cowell one? I don't know - they could have gone with their 'Elvis Lives' tribute one after Presley died, which was hugely respectful at a time punks were slagging him off. Or the really interesting cover story they did on Bros when they were the biggest pop group in the UK.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:18 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Female punks being provocative and 'ugly' to an engineered punch-up between North vs South / Middle vs Working Class / Rocker vs Mod / New Lad vs Intellectual to Madchester and a band destroyed by piss-poor management to Karaoke Sauron and the New Boring... overall, rather a depressing story
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:38 AM on February 26, 2012

From timeline at the end of the article:
March 1952 The Musical Express and Accordion Weekly is relaunched by London music promoter Maurice Kinn as the New Musical Express.

Their first mistake was changing the name!
posted by rongorongo at 3:59 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

60 Years of Rock History? Gneiss.
posted by marienbad at 4:07 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

It was great and very funny in the early 90s with Steven Wells.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:31 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would read the NME every week in my teens. I didn't take it entirely seriously (they gave some terrible albums very favorable reviews) but it was fun to read and informative for a kid like me living on the periphery of the world. That function was eventually taken over by Pitchfork, but for a while I would keep up with both, one for the UK scene and the other for the US. But in the end I stopped paying attention to NME.
posted by Kattullus at 5:25 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Their best ever album review
posted by night_train at 8:46 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

There was always their review of Morris Minor & Majors' single Stutter Rap... 'Utter Crap'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:54 AM on February 26, 2012

Also from the timeline:
1976 As punk emerges, the paper advertises for a pair of "hip young gunslingers" to cover the movement and hires Julie Birchill

For goodness sake! she used to write for your paper.
posted by unliteral at 3:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think they should have included a Morrissey cover. NME was basically a Morrissey fanzine from the early 80s until the early 1990s.
posted by DanCall at 5:10 AM on February 27, 2012

Did they used to do loads of short reviews in tiny type? Thgose were great.

I think I got hold of an issue in like 1992. The review of an album by a group called The Dwarves went something like, "It's as if someone listened to every punk record ever and learned all the wrong things." And an album by a Francophone Brit with some live tracks ended, "The live stuff is tout merde, too."

I saved that thing for years because I loved those reviews. Every time I got a freebie issue of College Music Journal I just sniffed and pushed it aside in favor of reading the old NME.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 AM on February 27, 2012

NME Hot 100 in 1976 - [top] [bottom].
posted by unliteral at 3:49 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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