Thursday, 28 May 2015
Underground/Overground: The Changing Politics of UK Music-Writing 1968-85
Underground/Overground: The Changing Politics of UK Music-Writing 1968-85 was a two-day discussion held over the Bank Holiday, featuring loads of panellists including Charles Shaar Murray, Jonathon Green, Richard Williams, Val Wilmer and Paul Morley, covering all the changes. The session featuring Morley is one of my favourites. If you scoot over to the Resonance FM Mixcloud page you'll find them all. The Morley one is Part 3. Not that you'll want to trawl through all 10 hours I'm sure but I've listened to most and if you have an interest in UK music journalism they're mostly fascinating.
Charles Shaar Murray's entertaining, the personification of the UK's Rock 'N' Roll journalism and sounding, as always, like he's just got over (or is actually on) an epic bender. That's the spirit! Or is it? The talks reveal the various phases and attitudes, from Melody Maker and the underground press to the NME's golden era. Typically, each new generation wanted to change everything and kick out the old farts, although for the early writers just getting Rock covered in the media was an achievement.
Of course it brought back memories for me, a teenager in the 70s, becoming obsessed with music and reading the weeklies. Living in the sticks, they were the only means of finding out what was going on, along with listening to John Peel, naturally. I once dreamt of being a music journalist but, typically, was too lazy to try hard enough. Besides, I couldn't have imagined moving to London as a teenager so I'd sit in my room and read about gigs. From '77 I did get to see a lot of bands but by then it was too late for a career in writing; I was wallowing in a miserable mundane going-nowhere life between allowing The Clash or whoever to vent my locked-in anger.
Well, all that journo glory is over. Who'd have thought it could happen? If anyone's interesting (subjective) on music these days, they're one voice amid many, from proper magazine sites to blogs. They say long form writing's 'dead' and it probably is except for those old enough to remember reading more than 140 characters at a time. And even some of us can't be bothered. Screen reading doesn't capture you like print did. Ho-hum...