Uh, the British music tabloids, that is. I'm sure some of them must still B out there, probly replaced by others I've never even Cn. I'm thinking mainly of NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MELODY MAKER, SOUNDS, RECORD MIRROR, MUSIC WEEK (more a dry business/retailers' paper, like a British version of BILLBOARD).
I tripped over these & learned there was a British "music press" in the summer of 1978, when the record store I later Nded-up working in GAVE AWAY a HUGE stack of these weekly newspapers after they'd bn unable 2 sell them over the previous yr.
& I dug thru this huge pile & took home a copy of every issue I could carry, then sank in2 them 4 the next few wks. & the store's Mployees, who I later Nded up working w/, thot I was crazy.
I'd just discovered ROLLING STONE a coupla yrs earlier, knew them by reputation B4 I ever actually saw an issue on-sale NEwhere (this was Boise, Idaho, in the 1970's), & did my historical research by buying a copy of their paperback ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW VOLUME II, full of classic reviews & brilliant writing. The 1st copy of RS I ever read I found at my local library, & was immediately hooked when I found reviews of Yes's YESTERDAYS & RELAYER in the same issue (if I'm remembering correctly). This made up 4 the fact that the guy on the cover was some1 I'd never heard-of -- some long-haired reggae singer named Bob Marley....
(Little did I realize that by the time I started reading RS "seriously" in the summer of '77, they were already on the downhill slide 2 the sorta flashy mainstreamized out-of-touch joke they'd Bcome in the '80s & '90s. Tho I've subscribed a few x & 1nce upon a time some of my fave writers were included in its pgs, I got VERY little outta my last subscription a few yrs back & I haven't looked at a copy of RS since Syd Barrett died.)
But the British tabloids were something diffrent. They weren't above the scene, commenting on it -- they were IN it, involved, Xcited, passionate, sometimes angry. They were wide-awake & alive, trying 2 Xpress their Xcitement. This translated loud&clear 2 me in Idaho, 10,000 miles & a yr away from when the papers were published.
The papers I took home ran from summer '77 2 summer '78, & mosta the weeklies were Xcited about the rise of Punk Rock -- which I Didn't Get 4 a long time. (Possibly not until I read Jon Savage's ENGLAND'S DREAMING a yr or so ago.) But not ALL of them were Xcited. While following the Sex Pistols & the Clash, the Jam, Buzzcocks, Stranglers & others -- & practically worshipping the Ramones & Lou Reed -- there were other things going on 2: Kate Bush appeared & topped the British charts w/ her 1st single & album (the Brits either loved her or hated her; nobody was unDcided); Pink Floyd released their angry ANIMALS; & the tabs got very worked-up over Foreigner's DOUBLE VISION (I know Foreigner had their uses, but I Xpected this more from American critics & fans; 1 writer gave DV 5 stars & called it "GREATEST ALBUM EVER!!!!!" in a headline), & AC/DC, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath....
Tho summa my British faves were still kickin around -- Genesis, Camel, Caravan, Gentle Giant, the Floyd, Hawkwind, Gong, National Health, Illusion, etc. -- they didn't get much space in the papers cos of the new musical revolution that was just starting over there, & 4 awhile I couldn't C why. Why bother w/ this punk crap when Genesis was headlining at Knebworth & Reading? The Moody Blues released their 1st album in 6 yrs -- where was the front-pg on that? (The fact that the album sucked mighta had an impact.) & why was Virgin Records signing the Pistols & all that reggae stuff when they already had Mike Oldfield, David Bedford, Henry Cow, Gong....
Finally it dawned on me: As usual, I was about 2-2-5 yrs 2 late 4 the Xcitement I wanted 2 read about, which was the heyday of prog-rock. All that was on its way out now, mayB kicking & screaming (U.K., & a diffrent, changed, "matured" Roxy Music was still around), but surely on the way out NEhow.
& the writers in the British tabloids were Njoying the change, reveling in it -- at last, some real Xcitement! Something new!
It's funny that I don't remember that much of the actual WRITING, just the atmosphere that came across so clearly. I don't remember that many of the writers -- outside of American Lester Bangs, who did a multi-part series about following the Clash around from gig 2 gig, which almost made sense. (Lester could make NE1 sound good -- he did a long write-up 1nce Dpicting Captain Beefheart talking 2 furniture & conversing w/ paint, & even that made me wanna go out & buy the 1st Beefheart album I could find.)
I remember writing by Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Logan, John Tobler, Tony Tyler & a few others. Tho Tony Parsons & Julie Burchill were supposedly cranking-out heinous diatribes in the pgs of NME during this period, I musta missed them. & I missed all of Chrissie Hynde's work -- she was off somewhere 4ming the Pretenders. (I finally read some of Julie Burchill's work in those big, flashy annual ROCK YEARBOOKS that Al Clark & Ian Cranna & others edited during the '80s -- pieces she did on The Decline & Fall of Boy George, & some of the mid-'80s "pop tarts," gave me an impression: kinda cranky, but pretty witty.)
It's not the writers so much as the atmosphere that sticks w/ me: a buncha folks reaching up from a grimy newspaper pg 2 shout: HERE'S A BAND U GOTTA C! HERE'S SOME MUSIC U'VE GOTTA HEAR! The passion & immediacy of it all. & it got amplified & repeated every wk.
ROLLING STONE was always 2 distanced 4 that kind of immediacy, & they did nothing but get more distanced. 2 bad 2, cos a lotta my fave writers worked there: Hunter Thompson, Tim Cahill, Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Charles M. Young, Daisann McLane (best article ever about Fleetwood Mac during the TUSK tour), David Felton (w/ the best article ever about Brian Wilson emerging from his bedroom after 10 yrs), Ben Fong-Torres.... All gone from there now. & tho I'll still pick up 1 of RS's occasional best-of or retrospective issues, I haven't thot 2 look 4 them at a bookstore or onna magazine rack inna long time. & the last time I checked, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY was doing a better job covering current music/books/movies than RS, & in more depth....
The only mag 2 ever gather a roster of writers as good as RS was MUSICIAN magazine in the late-'70s & thru the '80s, when they had Charles M. Young, Matt Resnicoff, Vic Garbarini, Dave DiMartino, Chuck Eddy, Jill Blardinelli, Mark Coleman, Rafi Zabor, Chip Stern & others writing 4 them -- only then their approach was "Here's some great music U may have overlooked" -- right up my street, obviously. & they were all freakin hilarious, which is always good.
& like RS, they let everybody get away....
(I might not B so nostalgic about British music tabloids if I had actually kept COPIES of NE of them, but somehow in my many moves over the yrs the Ntire pile got trashed -- I don't even know when I threw them out, but I kept NOTHING. Since then I've kept everything I like. I have copies of ROLLING STONE dating back 2 1976 & copies of MUSICIAN dating back 2 '78, but nothing from the 100+ lbs of British weeklies I had piled-up. This stuff is irreplaceable. NE of my friends overseas got NE connections on Fleet Street...?)