Welcome to 1982...
“It’s all got so serious, hasn’t it?” says Lemmy, speaking about his interviewer’s employer, the New Musical Express, but also incidentally about the world in general. “If I want to read about CND or unemployment, I’ll buy the Times.”
The Motorhead frontman is right and he’s wrong. Things have certainly got serious. In addition to the suspicion there will be an imminent nuclear attack, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher now offers the young people of the UK some more concrete worries: high unemployment and a war in the south Atlantic.
Duly some of the music of 1982 is serious too. Records by the Clash and Robert Wyatt address specifically the violent dramas unfolding at home and on the global stage. The explosive music made by our cover star Nick Cave, and his group the Birthday Party, meanwhile, offers a dramatic and cathartic release to the dissatisfaction of the time.
Perversely, it is also a time for a flowering of glossy “new pop”, which seems actively to represent the Conservative Party’s policy of putting yourself first. Duran Duran are in their imperial phase. On a happier note, The Jam, a vibrant force since punk, decide – at the peak of their powers – to quit before they become as complacent. Nor are UK artists the only active ones. Writers meet US superstars like Rick James, rejoice in new work by Marvin Gaye and impressive shows by Neil Young.
This is the world of The History Of Rock, a monthly magazine which follows each turn of the rock revolution. Whether in sleazy dive or huge arena, passionate and increasingly stylish contemporary reporters were there to chronicle events. This publication reaps the benefits of their understanding for the reader decades later, one year at a time. Missed one? You can find out how to rectify that on page 144.
In the pages of this seventeenth edition, dedicated to 1982, you will find verbatim articles from frontline staffers, filed from the thick of the action, wherever it may be.
That might mean talking with Paul Weller about “art school wankers”. Having a cup of tea with Van Morrison with Kevin Rowland. Even discussing drugs, (and The Slits) with William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin.
Perhaps, in such stimulating company, there’s reason to be optimistic, after all. Even an old hand can ignore some of the bad stuff.
“You might get rid of some of that,” Lemmy tells NME’s Gavin Martin. “You look like a fun-loving lad…”