Cover star – Leonard Cohen
1) P4 – second page listing some of the tracks on the free CD. Includes Patrick Cleandenim, Sonnenberg, Asobi Seksu and The Wailin’ Jennies.
2) P19 – the 20 worst singers in pop are listed. Unsurprisingly, given that Smash Hits used to call him ‘foghorn Hadley’, Tony Hadley is right up there (“sounds like an elephant trapped in a shipping container”). Also included are Rod Stewart since 1972 (“approaches his umpteenth covers album with the vim and brio of a man completing Community Service”), Madonna (“the sound of a brittle martinet”) and top spot goes to Mariah (“all technique, gallons of sugary gloop and not an atom of soul anywhere”).
3) P121 – a page of album reviews. Nige Tassell reviews Shady Bard’s ‘From The Ground Up’ (“a compact and bijou Birmingham collective who actually sound rather wonderful – a gentle swell of guitars, piano and strings whose slowness to build should be applauded heartily”). Jamie Bowman writes that ‘Goodbye’ by Ulrich Schnauss “is an album so German it practically wears lederhosen and drives a Merc”. Tiny Dancers’ ‘Free School Milk’ is ‘”curiously confusing” according to Jim Irvin. “one minute the Verve fronted by Neil Diamond, then jaunty tunes like Baby Love and I Will Wait For You summoning up 60’s pop by forgotten acts like Marmalde and Christie.”
4) P6 –a page of DVD adverts from HMV. You can buy Bowie’s ‘Glass Spider’ DVD/2CD combo for £16.95 (copies on discogs currently going for double that), Iggy & the Stooges ‘Live In Detroit’ for £16 (used copies for £4 on Amazon) and Julien Temple’s ‘Glastonbury’ special edition 2DVD/2CD/book combo for £26.95 (now a tenner on eBay).
5) P20 – in a neat act of symmetry, the random number generator has chosen the page with the 20 best singers. Lauded warblers include Sandy Denny (“sounded a bit like the Middle Ages’ version of a pop star”), Winston Rodney from Burning Spear (“even if the rooticality doesn’t speak to you, the pipes surely will”) and Russell Mael from Sparks (” the strangle-scrotumed falsettist gave metal vocalists their challenge”). Roy Orbison is proclaimed as the best (“his voice seemed to come from outer space – an unearthly sound that could move in the most unexpected ways”).
Interesting – Sylvia Patterson interviews Paul McCartney and asks him about his Smash Hits nickname.
SP: Were you aware, back in the ’80s, of the full title that Smash Hits used to give you?
PM: Wacky? Thumbs aloft? Macca….Wacky Thumbs Aloft?
SP: “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft.”
PM: Is that the full thing? You learned it! I loved that, Thumbs Aloft. And funnily enough it was coined by the guy at the time who looked a bit like me. Mark, the editor. So I thought there was something deep and psychological going on there.”
Mark E Smith is interviewed about favourite music (“the only thing I listen to at home is Italian house, Italian rave and piano house”), books (“I like Malcom Lowry, ‘Under The Volcano’, that’s alright”) and films/TV (“I’m a big ‘Neighbours’ fan – they’ve only got 12 actors in Australia and you can see in all their face how they want to move to London and make a pop record”) in the Word Of Mouth section.
David Quantick reviews some classic BBC comedy DVDs. “Watching Eric Morecambe work is still a joy, because he clearly loved it. He makes lines up, he laughs, he stares at people, he makes faces – he is enjoying himself. Fearless, we see him mock the dignified and make them like it.”
There’s a 3 page article by Robert Monks on how pirates have come to dominate the collective imagination. “The crossover of the juvenile and adult mind is, it seems, at the centre of the pirate mania. The modern conception of the pirate owes a huge chunk of itself to two of the most enduring childrens’ books there are, Treasure Island and Peter Pan. According to Christine Alhadeff, a child and adolescent psychotherapist, the ‘pirate theme’ reflects preoccupations that are archetypal for children. ‘Piratical values reverse the conventional order of things,’ she says. ‘Instead of longing for love and tenderness, the band of self-sufficient men and boys sail off under a skull and crossbones.”
Mark Ellen interviews Leonard Cohen.