Part 10: The Papers & Magazines
"New Musical Express" and "Melody Maker":
discovered the N.M.E. in '67 at a university café. A friend
of mine (thanks, Roy Isaksson!) was sitting at a table intently perusing
what I first took for an ordinary evening paper. I borrowed it over a cup
of coffee. I had no idea that such a paper existed so this was one in a
series of revelations to come.
It soon became my staple diet. With hindsight I'd say that it was too hit oriented, too superficial when interviewing artists and too oriented towards the teenybopper (great word) audience. I certainly learned a lot about the Monkees. Still, Mike Nesmith finally made good when much later recording a series of excellent country rock albums with his National Bands.
But they did write quite a lot about blues groups like Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack. We were in the midst of a blues boom, remember. And their articles made me go to that Mac concert in '68, starting it all off.
They reviewed lots of singles, albeit in a formula language, making it possible for me to start hunting.
You might have noticed it: I AM interested in the hardware of rock, particularly guitars and amps. I play a Strat myself these days. A sort of dream come true. A lot of these Guitar Man ambitions came from ogling the pages of the N.M.E. at home in Sweden. But in London I came across a new magazine.
My first issue of Beat Instrumental was No. 74, June 1969. Bought
in the streets of London for a mere 3 shillings. Jimi Hendrix was
on the cover. It featured articles on among others Eire Apparent, Steamhammer,
Jimi Hendrix, Poet and the One Man Band ( to become Heads, Hands
and Feet), the Move and Circus (with Mel Collins
on sax and flute). "Player of the Month" was Jon Hiseman (of Colosseum),
"Profile" was Tony McPhee. Vivian Stanshall (of Bonzo
Dog) had his own column. LP Reviews presented Steamhammer: "Steamhammer",
Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper: "Live Adventures", Eric Burdon
and the Animals: "Love Is"... You get the picture. This was a magazine
for me! A subscription was rushed and I read "Beat Instrumental" diligently
for four years.
The News page noted "Colosseum For Montreux - Again!" and their first single was released last month (May): "Walking In The Park" and "Those About To Die", both tracks from the Colosseum album. And "Pop Prom: A whole week of pop at the Albert Hall - that's what's taking place between June 29 and July 5. Artists booked to appear during the week include Chuck Berry, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Blodwyn Pig, Liverpool Scene, Incredible String Band and Chicken Shack."
We missed it of course...
And what did the B.I. advertise?:
Carlsbro implored you to "blow your mind not your amp" and offered "a new and exciting power-packed twin channel amplifier available in 40, 60 or 100 watts".
Rose-Morris asked you to "Switch on to Marshall. And then make a date with the man behind the fat cigarr. He'll be impressed. So maybe you ought to start thinking about that nice little cottage in the country for Mum."
Or: why not invest in the Marshall SupaWah model 2023 pedal ("Ask the man to show you. Some trip!") for £16.17.0 and the Marshall Supa Fuzz 1975 pedal ("We mean it. Outa sight!") for £16.8.0.
Want a new guitar? The brand new semi-acoustic Fender Telecaster retailed at £227 6s. 9d. Want something slightly cheaper? Macari's Musical Exchange offers you a Guitar Organ (the pic in the magazine looks like a white Vox to me)! Cost £212. As new with case and power pack. Reduced to 75 gns.