Cover star – Pet Shop Boys
1) P140 – A page of book reviews, largely given over to Rob Fitzpatrick’s views on ‘Do I Come Here Often?’ by Henry Rollins. He’s not a fan. “Rarely, if ever, has the life of even such a reluctant rock and roll star seemed so crushingly depressing, so free of any kind of relief or humanity. Rollins is supremely focussed and has a well practised knack for a cutting put down (fans, other bands, groupies, tour managers, women in general beware), but his life is one endless plough of the same lonely, frustrated furrow.”
2) P27 – A 2 page feature on photos of Madonna from 1980. The pictures were taken by her boyfriend at the time, Dan Gilroy and show her looking like Pat Benatar in a Lycra jumpsuit or drumming in a Laura Ashley frock with the Breakfast Club.
3) P97 – A 2 page interview with Peter Ackroyd in one Dickens’ favourite watering-holes. “He (Ackroyd) was a precocious kid. At five he was reading newspapers. At seven, he realised he was gay. At nine, he wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. He won a scholarship to a private school in West London, and another scholarship to Cambridge where he got a double first in English and lost the vestiges of his London accent. After a spell at Yale, where he met his long-term partner, a dancer called Brian Kuhn (who died of AIDS in 1994) he came back to London and, at only 23, got a job as literary editor of The Spectator and published his first poems.”
4) P138 – DVD reviews of ‘Godzilla’ (“Godzilla is one giant lizard who needs to get back to his core brand message”) and ‘Ryan’s Daughter: Special Edition’ (“…audiences fed on ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Performance’ derided the overblown crescendo of violins that announces Rosy’s first kiss with Shaughnessy. A more considered viewing reveals the point of the fanfare: its brashness refers to Rosy’s callowness, and renders the silence of her later love scenes with Doryan all the more eloquent”).
5) P66 – From ‘Word To The Wise’ with Dara O’Briain. “We (the Irish) do charm and whimsy, whereas the English do cynicism, wordplay, surrelaism, sitcom, the whole lot. You have a broad collection of arrows in your bow, whereas we just smile and wink winsomely. And twinkle…I’ve been twinkling for years.”
Interesting – David Hepworth looks back at the records that were recalled, reworked and remastered for various reasons. “10, 000 Maniacs were so cross about the former Cat Stevens’s apparent ambivalence over the Salman Rushdie fatwa that they had their record company take his song ‘Peace Train’ off their record ‘In My Tribe’. In 1977 Roy Harper put out the album ‘Bullinamingvase’. One of the songs on this record, ‘Watford Gap’, made the grievous (and manifestly untrue) allegation that the hospitality at this legendary motorway stop amounted to little more than “a plate of grease and a load of crap”. The threat of legal action forced Harper to remove the offending tune from UK copies of the LP, though the same, neatly rhyming libel continued to be propagated overseas.”
Martin Freeman talks about his love of Motown and his Paul Weller obsession as a kid. “I never had the clothes though. For one thing, I was a very small child. My friend at school had a pork-pie hat and it looked like a Stetson on him. In my mind I looked like Jerry Dammers. In reality, I looked like Steptoe.”
Jude Rogers interviews Graham Coxon. “A few things point to his age. His new clothes and shoes are more classic English gentleman these days, he notes sartorially, the trousers “proper high-waisters” and he “doesn’t wear trainers anymore”. Then there’s the other stuff. The toy cars and helicopters, the crude blobby paintings, a small pair of pink wellies and a rocking reindeer with a backstage pass hanging off an antler. They belong to Pepper, Graham’s six-year-old daughter. Every other week she’s here and Dad does the school run.”
Neil Tennant is interviewed by Andrew Harrison. “People of our age now listen to pop music, and yes, pop has become more like films, where it’s possible for a man in his fifties to have a career in Hollywood as a serious actor, maybe. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if it’s only about sex. If you’re not selling sex, are you fucked, as it were? Does it all end when you’re too old to sell sex? I’m not disputing that Madonna is making great records but is she just selling sex as well?”
Rhys Ifans is a big fan of The Cramps, The Clash and Butthole Surfers.
As swingorilliant Smash Hits finally goes down the dumper, Mark Ellen looks back.
For further reading try this comprehensive archive from Brian McCloskey or Sylvia Patterson’s ‘I’m Not With The Band’. And do watch the interview between Pete Burns and the Popworld presenters that Mark references at the end of the article.