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My Bible: The 1975 NME Annual

January 24, 2018

I was an impressionable teenager when Father Christmas stuffed this in my stocking:

The NME Christmas Annual – or to give it its full title The 1975 Hot Rock Guide – contained a series of brilliant essays by a team of writers at the top of their game, working with some great raw material. Highlights included Charles Shaar Murray (CSM) on Bowie and Mott, Nick Kent interviewing Lou Reed and the New York Dolls, Roy Carr chatting with Mick Jagger, Ian McDonald doing a retrospective on Todd Rundgren, Andrew Tyler getting Ray Davies and Marianne Faithful to talk from the heart and Kent again sparring with Bryan Ferry .

What these pop stars all have in common is that

  1. They give genuinely interesting interviews – even Mick Jagger who could win Olympic Gold for evasiveness
  2. They looked great in the pics
  3. They had hit singles – imagine!

The most productive writer was Nick Kent, enfant terrible of the magazine and then at the peak of his powers. His Syd Barrett piece was a genuine departure for the weeklies  – it ran over 3 weeks and was unashamedly retrospective. In a world where Mojo and Uncut did not yet exist this was a real departure. Also here is Kent’s interview with completely wasted 13 year-old Slade fans and his encounter with Captain Beefheart, who gave him the same old guff as he gave every other journalist. CSM does an affectionate overview of Heavy Metal and wins Best Headline for “Donny! I’m A Mormon!”, a classic profile of the simpering brothers.

It’s not all great – Pat Boone’s presence is inexplicable and Roy Carr falls for Sly Stone’s line that he’s gone straight. Andrew Tyler was clearly the non-music specialist, he interviews the Python team on the set of “…Holy Grail”. He also meets Jimmy Saville and the resultant article shows Saville to be evasive about his personal relationships with the exception of his feelings for his Mother (“The Duchess”).

I re-read this book on a regular basis and the piece I find the most affecting is the late I Mac’s thoughtful assessment of the career of Todd Rundgren, still the best thing I have ever read on this most exasperating of artists. The article makes a good case for sticking with Rundgren through his prog excesses, so I did (for a while). There are some omissions from my personal pantheon of greatness but in 1975 only the readers of Zig Zag had heard of Alex Chilton or Cyril Jordan.

As a snapshot of a time when great music was also commercially viable this book is a stunner. If you lived through it. It will take you back. If you were too young or too old it will make you kick yourself that you weren ‘t around.

Cost 85p, value priceless (although currently going for about £6.50 on eBay)

 

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From → Books, Interviews, Music

One Comment
  1. Mike Baess permalink

    I once listened to The Ikon. In a fit of even greater bravery I also once listened to A Treatise On Cosmic Fire.

    I will never get this time back.

    ________________________________

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