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Apr 012012

Without the NME, I would probably have never become a music journalist. Whether that is a good or bad thing is for you kind reader to determine! Back in the day (the early 80s), there may have been many music magazines and weeklies to fulfill a rabid music fans’ obsession for information – Rolling Stone, Melody Maker, Record Mirror, Sounds and Smash Hits - BUT there is little doubt in my mind that the “world’s most famous music magazine” was the NME.

This book – written by Pat  Long who served as former NME assistant editor/journalist at the mag in the Noughties – chronicles the eventful history of the NME from its introduction as the Accordion Times in 1935 before morphing into Musical Express in 1946 and finally the New Musical Express in 1952.The book ends in 2002, just about the time Long came on board at the magazine. However, the ‘golden age’ of the NME arguably was during the 70s and 80s when NME would become the standard bearer for the new music in whatever form it came in.

NME also established many writers who would achieve ‘celebrity’ status inter alia Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Julie Burchill, Tony Parsons, Paul Morley, Danny Baker, Stuart Maconie, Barney Hoskyns and Steve Lamacq. The stories behind these ‘celebrity’ writers often became as intriguing as the rock stars they were writing about and that was the key. The writers themselves not just wrote about rock n’ roll but they wrote in a rock n’ roll style! They were never detached observers but on many occasions were in the thick of things – even to the extent of living the rock n’ roll lifestyle.

These accounts are vividly portrayed by Long, placing many of the writers and their works in the context of the socio-political climate of the UK at the relevant time. The measure of NME‘s stature lies in the very fact that this book has been published and validated by being able to hold a reader’s attention for the duration of the ride. It’s easy to see that the history of the NME very much mirrors the rise and fall (and the rise again) of various rock n’ roll ‘genres’ over the last sixty years. In the final analysis, even as NME was inspired by the exciting new music that was happening all around, the NME was also instrumental in exposing the new music to hundreds of thousands of readers, thereby developing entire music scenes from its uncompromising coverage.

Of particular interest were stories relating to punk, The Jam, Acid House, Madchester and Morrissey. Within the NME, there was an attitude, passion and perspective relating to music that went beyond mere entertainment and took music seriously which has left lasting impressions on many of its readers, including yours truly. To an extent, it’s a sad story as the NME (like many of its contemporaries) struggle to make a significant difference in the modern internet culture and certainly its best days are long gone. However, with The History of the NME, it is now possible to revisit this special time in rock music history of which the NME has definitely played a vital role.

Official Site |

Oct 222011

Was an interesting evening at the Singapore Writers Festival launch held on the SMU grounds. The event kicked off with a preview of art installations viz Witness by Donna Ong and Underwriter’s Table by Vertical Submarine. The former’s concept relates to the human response to natural disasters (with special emphasis on the recent Japanese tsunami tragedy) and truly engages the viewer’s senses in a powerful manner. The latter was lighter in tone, being a large than life cartoony replica of a table, with a blank cheque (but no pen!).

The launch itself was nothing remarkable, it must be said, the usual formalities, speeches and a intriguing poem by Dr Lee Tzu Pheng but that was expected. This was followed by dinner and a rendition of a collaboration between poetry and music by Mang, a modern R&B/Hip hop take in fact. Slight but enjoyable.

I will be covering a couple of SWF sessions that relate to my pet pop culture topics viz comic books and scifi. In this respect, I recommend the following: -

MEET THE AUTHOR: Sonny Liew | Sat 22 Oct (today!) 11.30am to 12.30pm | Seminar Room 2-3, School of Information Systems (SMU)

PANEL: Loti Gone Case in Wonderland featuring: Troy Chin, Sonny Liew, Dave Chua | Wed 26 Oct 3.30pm – 4.30pm Transaction Pavilion, Campus Green (SMU)

MEET THE AUTHOR: Joe Haldeman | Sat 29 Oct 11.30am – 12.30pm | Learning Gallery, Singapore Art Museum @ 8Q

BRAND NEW BOOkS: Loti Volume 3 | Sun 30 Oct 11.30am – 12.30pm | Festival Pavilion, Campus Green (SMU)

More information at the Official Website.


 BOOK, COMICS  Comments Off
Mar 062011

The Floundering Time by Katy Weselcouch (SLG Publishing)

Getting your first graphic novel published is a pretty cool achievement.

Having said that, I read The Floundering Times with an open mind, trying to ignore the fact that the subject matter doesn’t interest me at all.

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Dec 272010

THE VESHA VALENTINE STORY By Des Taylor (Slave Labor Graphics)

“This started off as an artbook.”

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