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A Hidden Landscape Once A Week: The Unruly Curiosity Of the UK Music Press in the 1960s-80s...in the words of those who were there

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"The office was littered with discarded press releases and several scrawny men were using vinyl albums as frisbees..." An anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary from the heyday of British pop music writing. In its heyday, from the 1960s to the 1980s, the UK music press was the forging ground for a new critical culture, where readers could encounter an "The office was littered with discarded press releases and several scrawny men were using vinyl albums as frisbees..." An anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary from the heyday of British pop music writing. In its heyday, from the 1960s to the 1980s, the UK music press was the forging ground for a new critical culture, where readers could encounter anything from comics and cult films to new musical forms and radical underground politics. It created an off-mainstream collective cultural commons improvised through a networked subculture of rival weeklies, monthlies, and fanzines, including such titles as NME, Melody Maker, Sounds , Record Mirror, Black Echoes, Black Music, Let It Rock, Street Life, Zigzag, and Smash Hits. This anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary explores how this uncharted space first came about, who put it together, what it achieved, and where it went. Along the way, it unearths the many surprising worlds explored by this network of young anarchists, dreamers, and agitators who dared to take pop culture seriously, and considers what remains of their critical legacy. Contributors Valerie Wilmer, Charles Shaar Murray, Richard Williams, Penny Reel, Jonh Ingham, Jon Savage, Cynthia Rose, Paul Morley, David Toop, Bob Stanley, Barney Hoskyns, Jonathon Green, Simon Frith, Paul Gilroy, and many others With cover and illustrations by legendary comics artist Savage Pencil.


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"The office was littered with discarded press releases and several scrawny men were using vinyl albums as frisbees..." An anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary from the heyday of British pop music writing. In its heyday, from the 1960s to the 1980s, the UK music press was the forging ground for a new critical culture, where readers could encounter an "The office was littered with discarded press releases and several scrawny men were using vinyl albums as frisbees..." An anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary from the heyday of British pop music writing. In its heyday, from the 1960s to the 1980s, the UK music press was the forging ground for a new critical culture, where readers could encounter anything from comics and cult films to new musical forms and radical underground politics. It created an off-mainstream collective cultural commons improvised through a networked subculture of rival weeklies, monthlies, and fanzines, including such titles as NME, Melody Maker, Sounds , Record Mirror, Black Echoes, Black Music, Let It Rock, Street Life, Zigzag, and Smash Hits. This anthology of conversations and essays, memories and commentary explores how this uncharted space first came about, who put it together, what it achieved, and where it went. Along the way, it unearths the many surprising worlds explored by this network of young anarchists, dreamers, and agitators who dared to take pop culture seriously, and considers what remains of their critical legacy. Contributors Valerie Wilmer, Charles Shaar Murray, Richard Williams, Penny Reel, Jonh Ingham, Jon Savage, Cynthia Rose, Paul Morley, David Toop, Bob Stanley, Barney Hoskyns, Jonathon Green, Simon Frith, Paul Gilroy, and many others With cover and illustrations by legendary comics artist Savage Pencil.

44 review for A Hidden Landscape Once A Week: The Unruly Curiosity Of the UK Music Press in the 1960s-80s...in the words of those who were there

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    An anthology of essays and seminar transcripts looking at various facets of the UK music press; a topic of fairly niche interest, clearly, and even for me slightly off-centre from my own particular interest in the subject. See, all these daft old sods who worked on the NME, IT, Record Mirror or whatever in the sixties, seventies, eighties, think that the UK music press was at its best when they were young and hip(ish) and working there, and having a whale of a time. When in fact, as any fule kno An anthology of essays and seminar transcripts looking at various facets of the UK music press; a topic of fairly niche interest, clearly, and even for me slightly off-centre from my own particular interest in the subject. See, all these daft old sods who worked on the NME, IT, Record Mirror or whatever in the sixties, seventies, eighties, think that the UK music press was at its best when they were young and hip(ish) and working there, and having a whale of a time. When in fact, as any fule know, the UK music press peaked when I was young and hip(ish) and reading Melody Maker and Select in the early nineties and having a whale of a time, *obviously*. It would have been nice for more of the contributors to demonstrate slightly greater self-awareness on this point; at its worst you get people insisting that emails will never be as good as 'phone calls, or Penny Reel talking with apparent pride about how he listens to the same music at 66 as he did at 11, and doesn't even know what U2 sound like, which is somewhat at odds with the "unruly curiosity" promised by the subtitle. Still: there are certain areas where I can agree with the contributors. Some are broad: the music press now is very much not what it was, and I don't just mean as in now now where it basically doesn't exist anymore because nor does the music scene, but the broader now stretching back to this book's release a couple of years back. Others are more specific, for instance the dreadfulness of Mark Ellen and Mojo (though trust the great Bob Stanley to contribute the piece reminding us that, like many monsters, Ellen was alright in his early days, when he worked on Smash Hits during its golden age). Even if you're not into this sort of niche score-settling, though, there's an interesting structural story underlying all this, about who gatekept music, and who gatekeeps the gatekeepers. About the ways music was described, and how even when it shifted from the very factual old-fashioned approach to the more impressionistic, this still tended to privilege the head's reaction over the body's, and thus offer an incomplete account of how and why music works or doesn't. Some essays are more snapshots and sidelights, covering everything from Spare Rib's uncertain relationship with punk to the practicalities of production. The contributors include everyone from Paul Morley (and it's weird, as Stanley notes, that he saw Smash Hits as opponents, rather than the realisation of his new pop dreams) and Charles Shaar Murray to Beverly Glick aka Betty Page, probable originator of the term 'new romantic'. The intro admits "Land on the wrong page of almost any publication mentioned here and you're immersed in a welter of teenage obsession, confusion, ignorance and malice. Posturing, feuds, very bad writing about very bad music". To some extent this history inevitably mirrors its subject on that. But equally, just like the papers that were, sometimes it opens a window on all manner of strange and fascinating cultural byways. (Declaration of interest: I know the editor to chat to in the pub, or rather knew back when chatting in pubs was still a thing. Though blimey, it's weird seeing him writing in normal English, rather than his very distinctive online idiolect)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eamonn

    A collection of essays and panel transcripts about the UK music press from the 60s-80s. As someone who read the weeklies (Sounds 77-82, thereafter most often Melody Maker until 1993 approx, but I read everything I could, incl fanzines and Smash Hits, though I was never a huge NME fan, and only learned to love Paul Morley once he began popping up on TV), I found most of it very interesting. However it tries to cover too many things without doing any one of them thoroughly enough, including the ta A collection of essays and panel transcripts about the UK music press from the 60s-80s. As someone who read the weeklies (Sounds 77-82, thereafter most often Melody Maker until 1993 approx, but I read everything I could, incl fanzines and Smash Hits, though I was never a huge NME fan, and only learned to love Paul Morley once he began popping up on TV), I found most of it very interesting. However it tries to cover too many things without doing any one of them thoroughly enough, including the takeover of the weeklies by the writers of the underground press in the early 70s, which I guess is what I expected the book to be about, mainly, that and the heyday of NME. These subjects are discussed of course but it veers off on all sorts of tangents which is the nature of panel discussions. My only real gripe is it omits the late golden period at MM in the late 80s (Reynolds, Stubbs, Roberts, Stud Bros, et al) and yet tedious right-on hippie rags like Oz are mentioned as nauseum. Worth reading if you're interested in the history of the UK music press and (rock) music criticism.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike Bourke

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gavin Wright

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon Arnold

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emma Jane

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kerr

  8. 4 out of 5

    A_Place_In The_Orchard

  9. 4 out of 5

    Riley Fitzgerald

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve Platt

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris Estey

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Clark

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve Erickson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Scott

  16. 4 out of 5

    Johan

  17. 4 out of 5

    James Hughes

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ewing

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karolína Fialová

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

  24. 4 out of 5

    alabama8

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lennox

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kasa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Diaz

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danny

  29. 5 out of 5

    Willy Boy

  30. 5 out of 5

    MARC READ

  31. 4 out of 5

    John Pollard

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Wietrzykowski

  33. 5 out of 5

    Giang

  34. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  35. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

  36. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  37. 4 out of 5

    April Star

  38. 5 out of 5

    Stevie

  39. 5 out of 5

    Jazmin

  40. 5 out of 5

    João Ferreira

  41. 5 out of 5

    Hannah B

  42. 5 out of 5

    Mckenzie Ragan

  43. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Treadwell

  44. 4 out of 5

    Lily-Rose Beardshaw

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