NME / 30th November 1991

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It’s Grim Up North

Late 1991 was desolate time for British music. The wave of euphoria that had come along with the Madchester scene in ’89 through ’90 had dissipated somewhat and it was the arrival of a single called “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (new entry that very week) that signalled a sea change that would be all-American for the next couple of years. Alternative rock went mainstream and it was bands such Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden that became the central focus of the new media creation called ‘Grunge’. Seattle and the Sub Pop label was where it was at, before Brit Pop bit back in ’94.

However, here we are with the late Anthony H Wilson (“game show host, clever git, sexy businessman”) on the roof of Factory Records promoting the forthcoming “Palatine” retrospective box set. He chats (in typically truculent fashion) to erstwhile NME hack and current Radio 2/6 Music jock Stuart Maconie. Defending accusations that the label is in financial dire straits, it’s an interesting piece that shows that despite the inflated hubris there was also some humility evident – “But I am crap. In 1980, Morrissey told me he was going to be a pop star and I said, ‘Steven write your novel’. I thought there was no way he’d make a pop star” And on reflection of Tony Wilson the ‘TV Personality’? ” I like the Wilson is a wanker thing. I like the intimacy of regional celebrity”.

I think it shows that he saw the two hats as very different beasts. I found it very odd indeed that in April the following year, he was on anchor-man duties for the BBC TV coverage of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. (Curious choice No. 2 was co-host Lisa ‘caning it’ I’Anson) Surely Freddie was anathema to his own musical affiliations and Factory? Well, maybe this quote from the interview goes part-way to explaining that dichotomy: What’s Factory’s relationship with Manchester? Paternalistic? Vampiric? “Journalistic. We report what happens. And if I tend to use the words ‘Factory’ and ‘Manchester’ interchangeably, I shouldn’t. From a Manchester angle, I am very proud of Simply Red and 808 State and The Bee Gees. You think Factory has an attitude? No-one has an attitude like Mark E Smith. There’s him and there’s everybody else in Manchester. That’s it. I’m not a Machievellian genius like McLaren. I just follow”.

 

So it’s with sadness that we report the passing of one Faroukh Bulsara this week…

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Being esoteric for a moment now, for me at this point in time it was devastating. Gloriously unfashionable to be a Queen fan aged 14-16 I bared a lot of flack from the small-town, small minded masses (but I’m over it now dear readers). Anyway, NME writer David Quantick (later Harry Hill scribe and from Radio 2 “Blagger’s Guide”) completely ‘gets it’. “In the 80s, a time when most of Queen’s peers were mellowing out and making duller and worthier records, Mercury elected instead to be even more outrageous and excessive. A few people might have managed the Metropolis chic of their ‘Radio Ga Ga’ video, but very few would have had the nerve and humour to dress up like Bet Lynch for ‘I Want To Break Free'”. Mercury, in his flamboyance, graciousness and wit was that rarest of people, a real star. His death robs rock music of one of it’s funniest and most charming men”. Hear Hear Mr Quantick.

At the opposite end of the spectrum here we have NME’s “Bluffer’s Guide To Goth” by Andrew Collins. (he of ‘Collins and Maconie’s Movie Parade’)

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Highlights of this very amusing piece are “Things Goth’s Do: Sit Around, Hang Round The War Memorial, Drink Cider N’ Black, Go On An Organised Coach Trip To See The Cure Live, Do Art, Tarot Cards….”

 

Sorted for E’s and Filth

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A signs of the times here from the back pages with the early 90s emergence of sex-chat and puerile ‘Naughty/Smutty Joke Line’ services, together with “Drugs- using them or thinking of using them?” help-line. All you need to know about E, LSD, Poppers, Hash, Speed, Magic Mushrooms et al. Well, before the internet came along how were we to know? What I like is the all encompassing ‘Mind altering substances’ line. Surely that applies to all of them?!

In other news…..

Saint Etienne review the single releases (displaying a who-would’ve thunk mass appreciation for re-released Nik Kershaw’s “Wouldn’t It Be Good”!), NME fail to get interview with Bono (hot on the heels of Achtung Baby), so swipe one from Irish Radio instead, features on thrash Metallers Carcass, shoe-g(r)azers Moose, Skid Row, 2 Live Crew, Charlie Sheen, and caught live- Hole, Daisy Chainsaw and The Cult.

The Charts

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UK No. 1 Single: Black Or White by Michael Jackson

Jackson’s accompanying “Dangerous” LP gets a thumbs down 3 out of 10 in the review section this week. “….. is less a real album than a Very Famous Person receiving Very Bad Advice From His Market Researchers. Michael Jackson is exposed here as being as out of sync with the Pop Mood as he is with the real world”. Ouch. I quite like the single myself and it’s got Slash on it. At the bottom of the page, next week it’s ‘The Workshy Fop’ Vic Reeves, currently touring the Big Night Out. “You Wouldn’t Let It Lie”! But it’s No. 24, last week’s No. 9 that is dusted off here; The Justified Ancients of Mumu (KLF to you and me). with  A couple of months later they would mark their ‘retirement’ from the biz by opening up the Brits ’92 ceremony with Extreme Noise Terror, a dead sheep and machine guns, causing Sir George Solti to walk.