Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sympathy for the Journo (T - 16)

Today's soundtrack:  The Stranglers - The UA Singles 1977 - 1982

Just finished reading Nick Kent's memoirs of the 1970s, 'Apathy for the Devil'.  The name might not mean a great deal to you, but Nick Kent was a music journalist back in the seventies, and along with his colleague at the NME, Charles Shaar Murray, pointed me in the direction of most of the great music I listened to in that decade.

Nick was also - for a few weeks - an early member of the Sex Pistols, as well as being Chrissie Hynde's lover and a fully fledged junkie.  He was also one of the best writers about rock music ever to have put pen to paper.

Apathy for the Devil has come in for some criticism from some quarters, but I enjoyed it.  Whilst Kent doesn't write about himself as well as he does about his musical heroes, reading the book took me right back to my adolescence, and reminded me of the time when the NME formed the centrepiece of my week - I couldn't afford too much of the music it wrote about, but I still devoured every word of every issue, vicariously living the life of its writers, who were, to many of us, stars in their own right.

Today's NME is a pale shadow of the magazine that existed in the '70s and '80s and it's a real shame.  There is still plenty of quality music journalism out there - in the pages of Word, Mojo and Uncut, and in the writings of Peter Guralnick, Mikal Gilmore and others - but you won't find it in the pages of the NME any more, sadly.

A very pleasing thud on the doormat this morning - my contract of employment!  So I've now got written confirmation - I'm back on the gravy train again.  Happy days.  Just got to fill in a few forms and wing them back to Preston, and then I can enjoy my last couple of weeks of leisure.

Confirmation this morning also, that Formula 1 is at its most interesting when it rains.  Ferrari and McLaren's decision to gamble on the length and intensity of a rainstorm in Malaysia found both all four of their cars languishing at the back of the grid, which should lead to some interesting driving tomorrow morning.  The drivers seemed pretty philosophical about it, as well they might - it wasn't really their fault that their teams misread the conditions.

One band who - perhaps surprisingly - don't get much of a mention (if any) in Nick Kent's memoirs are The Stranglers, who were there or thereabouts throughout the period Kent is writing about.  Maybe they were too far removed from the scuzzy drug scene that Kent was involved in at the time, and possibly too inauthentic as well - their punk credentials were indeed decidedly dodgy.  That said, they did release a string of excellent singles in the period from 1977 to 1982, the last part of which I am listening to as I type.  By this time, they'd ditched the casual misogyny that blighted their early years and were playing more melodic, conventional material such as Golden Brown and Strange Little Girl.

Whilst never one of my favourite bands at the time - they came across as too old and too muso for me, with their organ riffs and dodgy facial hair - they did release some canny tunes.

"Have you all got your Crackerjack pencils?"

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