The 1980’s is an oft derided decade…with some justification. Some. But for every Dollar there lurked a Lloyd Cole and Commotions in the shadows. For every Bros. one could find a Mighty Lemon Drop. It was a time when indie was a genuinely underground, and independent, thing. A time when the ability to perfectly replicate a bands font on your school bag in Tippex guaranteed you the status of a deity from the other slightly pale kids in your year.
24 hours before Valentine’s Day in 1988 (no, I did not get any cards…the one from my gran doesn’t count) the NME ran a fantastic interview with Morrissey and the whole edition gives a lovely snapshot of a time when wearing black on the outside really did mean you felt black on the inside.
Inside the front cover was this full page ad for the latest Communards single, “For a Friend”.
The Communards were a wonderful mix of indie politics…gay rights, anti-Thatcher, celebrating the outsider and disco beats. It’s worth remembering too that Jimmy Somerville is a massive Morrissey fan.
The news section features this little snippet about the upcoming debut solo single from Mozzer…
What a single it turned out to be.
When Morrissey played at the Ally Pally in the nineties support was provided by the sadly departed Kirsty MacColl who was joined on stage for “Fairy Tale of New York” by Shane McGowan of The Pogues…pre-gig he exited the venue, deliriously drunk, grabbed my wilting bunch of daffodils and threw them on the ground!
The NME had a weekly quotes column at this time called “Bigmouth Strikes Again” (do you get the sense they really liked Morrissey at the NME?)
Another Morrissey connection arrives with The Primitives who feature a few times. Moz was a huge fan of theirs and was occasionally seen sporting one of their t-shirts.
The singles reviews were carried out by Steve Lamacq who six years on would the DJ of the Britpop era alongside Jo Whiley on the Evening Session. This week he had remarks to make about Morrissey approved acts like The Primitives and The Buzzcocks.
Australian band The Triffids were given a double page interview and lead singer David McComb proved himself to be a clever and erudite interviewee. Tenuous Morrissey link…they worked with Stephen Street to produce the follow up to their “Calenture” album.
With Morrisseys debut single, “Suedehead”, taking its title from a book by pulp fiction writer Richard Allen the NME ran this piece on his other youth subculture books…
Here is the lead interview with Morrissey. Proving why he was rarely not featured at this point in time…funny, intelligent, sharp and free from the grump and grudge that has come to define his more recent public pronouncements.
The live pages featured a smattering of suitably indie gigs…
It’s hard to think of an indie scene now…almost all of these bands came from council estates or from universities where they were grant funded. That’s not really possible now and so most music is made by already wealthy kids or stage school graduates. That’s not a problem really…good music is good music but I feel a bit glum about it all the same.