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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… the NME, Department of Enjoyment, 1984 May 11, 2013

Posted 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


1. Wendy Lyon - May 11, 2013

You don’t even need to buy a cassette-to-MP3 player (or a vinyl-to-MP3 player for that matter). Just download some free software, connect a cable and you’re good to go.

Still slowly working through my collection 🙂


2. Wendy Lyon - May 11, 2013

Incidentally those cassettes were almost never available in the States for copyright reasons, but every so often one would slip through customs and it was like finding hidden treasure!


3. WorldbyStorm - May 11, 2013

A line out on the cassette player. That’s all it takes… sob!

I’m not feeling any better about it! 🙂
That said, and I’m only half joking, if you do ever see mention of that NME Romo tape anywhere, or better still have it, tell us about it!

What you’re saying about treasure is very true. That occasionally IIRC was an issue here re copyright vis a vis UK magazines (or perhaps sheer laziness on the part of distributors who couldn’t be pushed to include them).


4. Eamonn Crudden - May 11, 2013

A serious chunk of my tastes in tunes were formed by the double whammy of Pogo a Go-Go (Punk Retrospective) and C86 (Low Rent Indie) tapes from NME in 1986.




WorldbyStorm - May 11, 2013

I never saw the Pogo a Go-Go. It’s great, and thanks for the heads up.

C86 always great great selection. And there’s also an extended CD of same which is kind of weird!


5. Joe - May 11, 2013

I had an NME country compilation on tape cassette. It had some great tracks on it. But it got thrun out. Now I want it back. It had Steve Earl’s Guitar Town on it. And a track called A Midnight Girl in a Sunset Town. And loads more. Ricky Scaggs I think. And one called Border Radio.
They were all brilliant tracks.
You people know more about music and technology and pretty much everything than me.
Any tips on where I might find this on the web or elsewhere?


WorldbyStorm - May 12, 2013

If you know the name there’s a chance someone has digitised it and put it up for download… would be well worth a try.


Joe - May 12, 2013

Can’t remember the name! But I can hum most of the tracks that I liked. Youtube here I come.


6. eamonncork - May 12, 2013

I remember sending away for this and playing it until I knew it inside out. Great to see it in this slot.
However you have inadvertently revealed your status as a CIA agent provocateur by neglecting to mention the two tracks on the compilation by Marxists. So I’ll stick them up.

And I mourn the Boothill Foot Tappers. Well, maybe mourn is a bit strong but they were that kind of ramshackle London pub band you could go and see in the Dublin Castle or somewhere like that for a couple of quid and have a good night while doing so. Now they look like an artefact from another civilisation.


WorldbyStorm - May 12, 2013

That’s really interesting re the BFT’s. I seem to remember the ads in the music papers.

As for the Redskins, while I loved their speedy energy those Tony Cliff samples that litter the album…. hmmm…


WorldbyStorm - May 12, 2013

Though this excellent interview from 86 with them, the last few paragraphs I think sums up a truth that is perhaps all too often ignored.



eamonncork - May 12, 2013

They do. It was an eye opener to me that Wham had played a miners benefit so fair play to them. It puts them well to the left of the punk veterans who turn up on documentaries chuntering away about how punk had to happen because the unions had made Britain a depressing place.


WorldbyStorm - May 12, 2013


It has to be said, there was a solid streak of conservatism in a lot of those veterans.


eamonncork - May 12, 2013

I always like Andy Beckett’s line about documentaries which claim that the beginning of Punk in 1976 was a reaction to The Winter of Discontent in 1979. Actually the Punks have proved every bit as tedious as the sixties survivors who used to clog the channels going on about how great they’d been. And the sixties lads produced more and better music and did effect something of a cultural change.


7. eamonncork - May 12, 2013


8. eamonncork - May 12, 2013

Someone wrote a really terrific piece in this strand about Munich disco and Giorgio Moroder a few weeks back. I see BBC Radio 2 are running a documentary about Moroder tomorrow night at 10pm, might be of interest.


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