Chris Roberts interviews The Sugarcubes - part 1, 24th-31st December 1988

Chris Roberts interviews The Sugarcubes – part one, 24th-31st December 1988. Photos by Andy Catlin. Part 2 tomorrow.

See if you can avoid staring at the eyebrows on Bjork. I can’t.

If you’ve never heard the Justin Robertson remix of Birthday then do so immediately!


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Talk Talk Talk featuring Mr. Agreeable and Pepe Le Punk, 25th February 1995

So yesterday, what with it possibly being the end of the world as we know it, I was all set to post an R.E.M. interview, but then I started drawing the Songs About Fucking album cover in MS Paint. Oh that won’t take long I thought, but once I got going I kept tweaking and changing, and then there was no time left to post. But y’know…if the world had ended at least I’d have used my last time on the planet constructively..right? I am such a twat.

So tonight here’s some Talk Talk Talk with Mr. Agreeable and Pepe Le Punk in recognition of the post on The Idolator re: “Dear Backlash” and the follow up comments about it. Thanks to Michaelangelo Matos for the post. Is it just me or does the C.U.N.T. featured here look like Andrew Collins?

Feel free to check up on the state of the world yourself every so often, using this handy url

http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

or for those of you who want something a little more serious

http://www.collidingparticles.com/?gclid=CJmKkO6n05UCFQuJ1QodqDm2iw

The Vinyl Curtain. Melody Makers best albums of 1987

Apologies again for the missing part of the page, which met with some sort of nasty incident with a scalpel. No idea why.

For the completeists the missing records from 1987 were

28. Squirrel and g-man… – Happy Mondays
29. Oh! tears baby – Win
30. At my window – Townes Van Zandt

I know this because of this great link that lists all the end of year charts from the Melody Maker from 1979 to 2000 when it died.

Link thanks to Hieronymus of Hesselink over at the When Saturday Comes message board

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Dear Backlash - David Stubbs offers advice to the would be MM letter writers

Dear Readers,

Do you remember the humble letter? There are a couple of pictures on this piece to remind you exactly what one looks like should your memory fail you. A real handwritten letter is such a rare commodity these days and certainly as rare as to be practically extinct in the context of readers writing letters to N.M.E. as Morrissey famously did. Look that’s him in the background holding up an electric typewriter. Yes, electric…kinda like power steering for your fingers.

These days the only sort of letters anyone receives invariably hail from over friendly corporations, who, purely in the interests of trying to help us overcome life’s little hiccups, write to remind us that “in difficult times like these” they can help…because “there never has been a better time to buy [insert product or service] from [insert ‘helpful’ corporation name here]”. Cunts.

I can remember a time not that long ago, before faxes, emails, message boards and txts, when the letter was KING. It was THE medium of all communication with the press simply because it was the ONLY medium of communication with the press. You’ll understand of course that I NEVER once wrote to Melody Maker, precisely for fear of eliciting the sort of sniggering ridicule on the 25th floor that Wing Co. Stubbs sums up here. With typical gusto, and drawing on (deep breath), Shakespeare, Chaucer, Kant, Wittgenstein (twice), Kafka, neoclassical English literature, Salvador Dali, haiku poetry, James Joyce and Keats, Stubbs belittles yet consistently¬† entertains throughout. Thoroughly enjoyable but so very much of its time, and not only because of all those overtly intellectual reference points.

Can you imagine the sort of responses to this there would be these days if there were online comments below. LOL!!!!!!!!

I was never a prolific letter writer but sending and receiving letters was something special, a rare treat due to the physicality of the item. I haven’t written a letter for ages so I make this rash promise. I will write a proper letter to the first person that gets in touch with their postal address. With this letter I will include not only kind words but also the Dear Backlash page featured here. Consider this proposal open and valid until such a time that this page says it’s not.

Yours in anticipation,

Charles

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Simon Reynolds reviews A Gilded Eternity by Loop 20th January 1990

Simon Reynolds reviews A Gilded Eternity by Loop. Taken from Melody Maker, 20th January 1990.

This for Andre who left a comment recently. Not sure I have any interviews Andre and this isn’t exactly Loop’s finest hour but hope it’s better than nothing. Sad to reflect on the countless bands over the years you could apply Reynolds opening sentence from this review to- “It’s clear now that [band] peaked with their magnificent brace of EP’s in [date]”.

Not now though. I miss the EP. It gave bands a chance to develop in a way they don’t have now. Never got into Loop personally. Probably in no small part because I didn’t spend my late teenage years in a permanent fug of marijuana smoke which did seem to be an obligatory requirement at the time. And besides, Loop always played second psychedelic fiddle to Spacemen 3 – sorry Loop fans.

Elsewhere Bob Stanley reviews Opal and also fails to pump up Technotronic’s jam. Simon Patrick reviews Ozma, an early Melvins release, a band still going strong in 2008! Push reviews Divine Styler and In Goth Daze – lucky him! Finally Ian McGregor reviews The Corn Dollies, Wrecked.

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Bob Stanley reviews The Pixies Bossanova, 11th August 1990

Bob Stanley reviews The Pixies Bossanova. Taken from Melody Maker, 11th August 1990.

Another first, this time from Bob Stanley. I reckon he gets the review pretty much spot on. When this came out there was a sense of disappointment. It’s still a great record but it felt a bit limp and all the rough edges had been sanded down. The Happening is the standout track on this album for me.

Sorry about the top left cover rip. No idea why I ripped it. My only excuse is that I went to art college. It makes for quite a funny juxtaposition as the Boo-Yaa dude seems to be looking down with total disgust on pasty Charles Francis and chums.


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REM on the cover of NME, 23rd March 1991

REM on the cover of NME, 23rd March 1991. Photo by Derek Ridgers.

Catching up.

Neil Kulkarni reviews Tarantula by Ride, 9th March 1996

On the subject of demise here’s Ride’s swansong Tarantula reviewed by Neil Kulkarni.

Poor old Ride. By this stage no one gave a shit about this band and yet for a few brief months no other band came close to how sublime Ride were. I mean just look at Mark Gardner in this photo. I’d have hacked off my right arm to have looked like this when I was 19. I’ll admit to being one of those unhip kids who wore a Ride T-Shirt but I don’t think it ever helped me score. Girls or drugs. Not surprising really. Ride did become uncool very, very quickly. And the lyrics were awful. Somehow they worked on the first EP’s, but then I think they started forcing the lyrics and it’ll all became toe curlingly Oasis-like.

I know *no one* will agree with me but it would be my contention that those early Ride EP’s paved the way for the mainstream success My Bloody Valentine went on to have with Loveless. The poppier, younger, painfully beautiful Ride bridged the gap from where MBV were to the charts by helping to create a musical climate where noise was accepted by the more conservative record buyer. Anyone back me up on this? Thought not.

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Taylor Parkes reviews Underworld live at Lakota, 9th March 1996

I may as well keep scanning from this issue till it’s spent. We’ve had Simon Price’s Underworld album review a few days ago and so here’s an accompanying live review by Taylor Parkes.

I went to see Underworld when they played the Roundhouse recently. To begin with I hated it. Initially it seemed too desperate an attempt to recapture a moment from the past that could never come back. But as the evening progressed and the melodic notes of Rez began pinging around the circular venue the atmosphere changed. It began to feel more like the recognition and celebration of, what had once been present, not a doomed attempt to somehow revive the past. And from that point on everything changed for me. It turned into a brilliant show and I left elated with a huge smile on my face. No, I didn’t take drugs, but I did end up wishing I had.

Thanks for the flurry (does 4 count as a flurry?) of comments re Romo and the demise of the Melody Maker. Don’t want to start a witch hunt but I to look forward to any future blog post on the subject Taylor. Something for The Quietus perhaps?

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David Bennun interviews Plastic Fantastic, 9th March 1996

Firstly thanks to the comments from Pavemental and Robin regarding ROMO from when I posted the cover featuring the infamous “Fiddling while ROMO burns” compilation tape. As promised here’s the David Bennun interview with long forgotten ROMO band Plastic Fantastic from 9th March 1996.

I was going to write ‘justly forgotten’ just then but checked myself. I realise that if I had ever heard any of these ROMO tracks I’ve long since forgotten what they sounded like. Even if I could remember I want to hear them again with a fresh pair of ears. I’ve been searching hard for some mp3’s without much success – can anyone help? I still feel pretty confident that they were justly forgotten though.

However the comment from Robin got me thinking. I remembered nothing of the scene except, as I said previously, that I remembered ROMO as the tipping point where I gave up on Melody Maker. I was probably too old by this time but I’d grown so tired of the endless conveyor belt of hype. And ROMO felt so desperate, so utterly contrived, so pointless. I only had to see a few of the pics or read some of the de rigeur ‘manifestos’ and I just knew, “I’m not having that. No way”. But this makes it seem like I still cared….like I still felt passionate enough to love and hate new bands. I didn’t. It all just bored me. Melody Maker became an irrelevance to my life.

Did ROMO come before or after S*M*A*S*H and the “new wave of new wave”? It’s so hard to remember. By the time Elastica had broken I hated most of the bands I read about in the press. Nothing excited me. It was just more of the same. And again. And again. Menswear, Gene, Echobelly. Gay Dad was somewhere in the mix too. I forget. All I remember by the mid 90’s was that the latest scenes just kept coming and coming and none of them worked.

Oh Mac-onie, so much to answer for….look what you went and started with Britpop. In retrospect I do admire the (possibly noble) intentions of Price and Parkes, the desire to move us on from Britpop in a less laddish, more feminine direction, but it just led us from one dead-end to another. No excitement. No challenge. With Britpop and the Maker so mainstream I craved to hear music that was most definitely NOT mainstream and with the internet still finding its feet, the music press was still the only real viable communication channel I/we had. I wanted to discover music the mainstream would dismiss out of hand not more mainstream acts in the making. I wanted music that would surprise me. Music that I couldn’t ignore. Music that I might not like, but that would make me think. In short I wanted the journalistic equivalent of Mixing It, or failing that, a less genteel Late Junction. I suppose in many ways I still do. The closest thing I’ve found to date comes out via http://wfmu.org because while I admire Resonance FM I find it works better in theory than as an actual radio station.

But enough of my pathetic attempts to try and articulate what I once wanted, here’s a brilliant, MUST READ piece from Simon Reynold’s that perfectly encapsulates the end of the MM and the part Britpop and ROMO played in its own downfall. It would be really interesting to know how Simon Price and Taylor Parkes feel about ROMO today and if they agree that it unwittingly contributed to the papers rapid decline. Let it be said that both of you were two of the brightest and best writers left along with Kulkarni so I’m not blaming you. I’m just interested to know more now that the dust has settled. Can I tempt either of you into leaving a comment?

Would ROMO have been called Nu-Romantic today? Will we live to see New Labour rebrand themselves as Nu-Labour for the jaded voting youth that grew up in the 90’s?

UPDATE: 6th June 2009

Came across this advert for the Fiddling while Romo Burns tour so thought I’d add it to this post. The dates also match the number of people that attended.

Fiddling while Romo burns tour dates ad, 2nd March 1996

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