This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… the NME, Department of Enjoyment, 1984 May 11, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
Here’s a compilation from 1984/5 which I first heard being played by alastair – once of this parish. A man with eclectic tastes, and there’s no question that this compilation catered to precisely that eclecticism. It’s a sort of run through of mid-1980s groups. The Smiths – a live version of Girl Afraid, The Moodists. There’s Husker Du’s ‘Real World’ – which I kind of think is their finest moment bar none and almost the platonic ideal of where hardcore met other. There’s the Waterboy’s, back when they/he was brilliant, with an excellent version of ‘A Pagan Place’, The Prisoners, Orange Juice. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Cocteau Twins, Billy Bragg, Wah, The Art of Noise ( a revelatory nod to the future ), Nick Cave, Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, and on it goes. There are, of course, others who glitter somewhat less illustriously at this remove. Who were Time Zone? And what of the Boothill Foot Tappers? Who mourns for them?
The selection is excellent, though they have that murky cassette tape sound which seemed to be perfectly formed for the murky guitar production of the mid-1980s – I’m looking at you David Gedge. Probably not a surprise three decades later.
This was one of a series of same from the NME that stretched across the decade in one form or another and collectively they build up into a picture of both the styles of the times but also – and this is I think crucial – the way in which music companies attempted to shape tastes (though in a way that’s been covered in a previous TWIMBLT).
And tastes these compilations shaped. There’s been a previous post long long ago which dealt with compilations, but more the ones issued by record companies themselves – for yes, at that time they were mostly ‘record’ companies. Pillows and Prayers is an obvious example, as is the less well known Creation sampler from 1988. And Creation had a fair few such samplers.
But sticking with tapes, music magazines like Vox magazine, now long since gone – and others as well. Where else would I have heard the Field Mice? Or Megadeth’s Hanger 18? NME itself, Sounds before it (I think I still have some of their vinyl flexidisks with Voivod, McCarthy and others on them). Melody Maker.
I do wonder though did they lose their utility when there was the transition to digital downloads. Suddenly it was easier to get music without purchasing the magazines as increasingly groups themselves started to upload samples for people. It was farewell the middle mag. And YouTube, obviously, was part of a further shift, where music became much more accessible. That said even today you’ll still find CD’s on the front cover of many music magazines.
I used to have boxes of the cassette tapes from the late 1980s when I started buying the Melody Maker and later NME on a regular basis, up to the arrival of CDs. Sadly in a fit of madness (and pop-cultural vandalism) in the early 2000s I got rid of the cassettes – thinking that there’d be no way to digitise them. More fool me, I see now that there are cassette to MP3 players for next to nothing. Ah well, never again to hear that Melody Maker Romo compilation from the 1990s. And although there’s something of an home industry ripping these comps and posting them up online that one hasn’t turned up. My loss, I guess.
Any other great compilations from music magazines or fanzines that have stuck with people?
Cocteau Twins: Millimillenary
Waterboys: A Pagan Place
Orange Juice: A Place in My Heart
Nick Cave: I Put a Spell on You
The Prisoners: Reaching My Head
Husker Du: Real World
The Smiths: Girl Afraid
The Art of Noise: BeatBox (Diversion One)
The Moodists: Some Kind of Jones