Thursday, September 17, 2009

Classic NME and Melody Maker Covers Take Me Back

Back in the wild and crazy mid-nineties, I lived in Mt. Pleasant, MI. The running joke about Mt. Pleasant is that there are no mountains, and it's not very pleasant. Basically it's a college town dropped in the middle of a cornfield. Strange days indeed.

Anyway, when I think back to those days I feel like I actually was living in the UK. I was totally immersed in Britpop and Britpop culture. I guarantee that I was the only kid in Mt. Pleasant with Ian Brown and Pulp posters, waiting for a new Suede B-side, or literally having trouble sleeping the night before the Echo & the Bunnymen comeback single was released. There were a couple of great record stores there (remember, this was pre-internet, so it was really tough to get your hands on English music) including the phenomenal New Moon Records.

I was in there all the time. They had a great used section, tons of vinyl, intelligent employees, and an awesome listening station. Mike, the owner, was into lots of late-sixties psych stuff - he got me into all manner of glorious weirdness like the Stooges and the MC5 and exposed me to Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa.

My friend Rod worked there too, and looking back, he was a huge influence on me. I met Rod on a bus going to Chicago, and I remember him and I hanging out at the Blackstone Hotel (where they filmed The Untouchables) the night that Allen Ginsberg died. We were both heavy into the Beats, and we were both pretty upset. Later Rod taught me my first chords on guitar - I'll never forget the summer night we both sat up playing "Down By The River" by Neil Young. He showed me those three chords - C D G - and I hammered away on them while he soloed for seriously, about 5 hours. He gave me the first four Echo & the Bunnymen records, The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, New Order's Substance, and Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. Essentially I was an Anglophile of the first degree, obsessed with Britpop stuff like Oasis and Verve and Suede, and he also was an Anglophile, but from the previous generation, thus he was into The Smiths and Joy Division and The Stone Roses.

So long story short, those were good days. And the other record store in town used to order both NME and Melody Maker for me. They were always a week late, but they were a lifeline to a world I could only dream of. Every week there was some new band that I'd never heard of and couldn't wait to check to check out - Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Boo Radleys, etc. I got a hold of a ton of great deleted British stuff from the cut out bin (do you remember the cut out bin?) like the magnificent first album from Geneva, and a bunch of out of print Echo & the Bunnymen singles.

Here is a large collection of mid-nineties NME and Melody Maker scans. Just seeing them takes me back. Enjoy them here.