|First issue||January 1926|
|Final issue||December 2000|
|Based in||London, England|
Melody Maker was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest.It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester-born composer, publisher Lawrence Wright; the first editor was Edgar Jackson. In 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" (and IPC Media sister publication) New Musical Express .
Music journalism is media criticism and reporting about music topics, including popular music, classical music and traditional music. Journalists began writing about music in the eighteenth century, providing commentary on what is now regarded as classical music. In the 1960s, music journalism began more prominently covering popular music like rock and pop after the breakthrough of The Beatles. With the rise of the internet in the 2000s, music criticism developed an increasingly large online presence with music bloggers, aspiring music critics, and established critics supplementing print media online. Music journalism today includes reviews of songs, albums and live concerts, profiles of recording artists, and reporting of artist news and music events.
Lawrence Wright was a British popular music composer and publisher. He was born in Leicester and opened a music shop in the city in 1906. A short time later his first song, "Down By The Stream", was published, and by 1912 he had established the Lawrence Wright Music Co in Denmark Street, London. Wright went on to write over 600 songs under his own name and as Horatio Nicholls, including the World War I propaganda song "Are We Downhearted? No!", and would receive an Ivor Novello Award in 1962 for Outstanding Contribution to British Popular Music. He was one of the very rare composers of popular music in this period to make a substantial amount of money - it had not been unusual to see composers who had written dozens of hits die in poverty.
Originally the Melody Maker (MM) concentrated on jazz, and had Max Jones, one of the leading British proselytizers for that music, on its staff for many years. It was slow to cover rock and roll and lost ground to the New Musical Express (NME), which had begun in 1952. MM launched its own weekly singles chart (a top 20) on 7 April 1956,and an LPs charts in November 1958, two years after the Record Mirror had published the first UK Albums Chart. From 1964, the paper led its rival publications in terms of approaching music and musicians as a subject for serious study rather than merely entertainment. Staff reporters such as Chris Welch and Ray Coleman applied a perspective previously reserved for jazz artists to the rise of American-influenced local rock and pop groups, anticipating the advent of music criticism.
Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".
Ronald Maxwell "Max" Jones was a British jazz author, radio host and journalist.
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.
On 6 March 1965, MM called for the Beatles to be honoured by the British state. This duly happened on 12 June that year, when all four members of the group (Harrison,Lennon, McCartney, and Starr ) were appointed as members of the Order of the British Empire. By the late 1960s, MM had recovered, targeting an older market than the teen-oriented NME. MM had larger and more specialised advertising; soon-to-be well-known groups would advertise for musicians. It ran pages devoted to "minority" interests like folk and jazz, as well as detailed reviews of musical instruments.
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led them to be regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
A 1968 Melody Maker poll named John Peel best radio DJ, attention which John Walters said may have helped Peel keep his job despite concerns at BBC Radio 1 about Peel's style and record selection.
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft,, known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004.
John Walters was a British radio producer, presenter and musician. Initially a schoolteacher and a jazz enthusiast, he played trumpet in The Mighty Joe Young Jazz Men and the 1960s pop group The Alan Price Set before joining BBC Radio 1 in 1967, where he was John Peel's producer from 1969 to 1991.
BBC Radio 1 is one of the BBC's two flagship radio stations, specialising in modern popular music and current chart hits throughout the day. Radio 1 provides alternative genres after 7 pm, including electronica, dance, hip hop, rock and indie. The choice of music and presenting style is entirely that of programme hosts, however those who present in the daytime have to rotate a number of songs a specific number of times per week. It was launched in 1967 to meet the demand for music generated by pirate radio stations, when the average age of the UK population was 27. The BBC claim that they target the 15–29 age group, and the average age of its UK audience since 2009 is 30. BBC Radio 1 started 24-hour broadcasting on 1 May 1991.
Starting from the mid-60s, critics such as Welch, Richard Williams, Michael Watts, and Steve Lake were among the first British journalists to write seriously about popular music, shedding an intellectual light on such artists as Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd and Henry Cow.
Richard Williams is a British music and sports journalist.
Michael Watts was a British journalist and broadcaster best known for his ‘Inspector Watts’ column in the Sunday Express and other publications, which ran for over 35 years. He is not to be confused with another journalist of the same name, who was the US editor of Melody Maker for much of the 1970s.
Steely Dan is an American rock band founded in 1972 by core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Blending rock, jazz, traditional pop, R&B, and sophisticated studio production with cryptic and ironic lyrics, the band enjoyed critical and commercial success starting from the early 1970s until breaking up in 1981. Throughout their career, the duo recorded with a revolving cast of session musicians, and in 1974 retired from live performances to become a studio-only band. Rolling Stone has called them "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies".
By the early 1970s, Melody Maker was considered "the musos' journal" and associated with progressive rock. But Melody Maker also reported on teenybopper pop sensations like The Osmonds, the Jackson 5, and David Cassidy. The music weekly also gave early and sympathetic coverage to glam rock. Richard Williams wrote the first pieces about Roxy Music, while Roy Hollingworth wrote the first article celebrating New York Dolls in proto-punk terms while serving as the Melody Maker's New York correspondent. In January 1972, Michael "Mick" Watts, a prominent writer for the paper,wrote a profile of David Bowie that almost singlehandedly ignited the singer's dormant career. During the interview Bowie claimed, "I'm gay, and always have been, even when I was David Jones." "OH YOU PRETTY THING" ran the headline, and swiftly became part of pop mythology. Bowie later attributed his success to this interview, stating that, "Yeah, it was Melody Maker that made me. It was that piece by Mick Watts." During his tenure at the paper, Watts also toured with and interviewed artists including Syd Barrett, Waylon Jennings, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
The Osmonds are an American family music group who reached the height of their fame in the early-1970s. The group consists of siblings who are all members of the Osmond family, a family of musicians from Ogden, Utah, who have been in the public eye since the 1960s.
The Jackson 5, later known as the Jacksons, were an American pop band composed of members of the Jackson family. The group was founded in 1964 in Gary, Indiana by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine, with younger brothers Marlon and Michael Jackson joining soon after. They were among the first black American performers to attain a crossover following, preceded by the Supremes, the Four Tops, and the Temptations.
David Bruce Cassidy was an American actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was known for his role as Keith Partridge, the son of Shirley Partridge, in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family. This role catapulted Cassidy to teen idol status as a superstar pop singer of the 1970s.
Caroline Coon was headhunted by Melody Maker editor Ray Coleman in the mid-1970s and promptly made it her mission to get women musicians taken seriously. Between 1974 and 1976 she interviewed Maggie Bell, Joan Armatrading, Lynsey de Paul and Twiggy. She then went on to make it her mission to promote punk rock.
In 1978, Richard Williams returned - after a stint working at Island Records - to the paper as the new editor and attempted to take Melody Maker in a new direction, influenced by what Paul Morley and Ian Penman were doing at NME. He recruited Jon Savage (formerly of Sounds), Chris Bohn and Mary Harron to provide intellectual coverage of post-punk bands like Gang of Four, Pere Ubu and Joy Division and of new wave in general. Vivien Goldman, previously at NME and Sounds, gave the paper much improved coverage of reggae and soul music, restoring the superior coverage of those genres that the paper had in the early 1970s. Despite this promise of a new direction for the paper, internal tension developed, principally between Williams and Coleman, by this time editor-in-chief, who wanted the paper to stick to the more "conservative rock" music it had continued to support during the punk era. Coleman had been insistent that the paper should "look like The Daily Telegraph " (renowned for its old-fashioned design), but Williams wanted the paper to look more contemporary. He commissioned an updated design, but this was rejected by Coleman.
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In 1980, after a strike which had taken the paper (along with NME) out of publication for a period, Williams left MM. Coleman promoted Michael Oldfield from the design staff to day-to-day editor, and, for a while, took it back where it had been, with news of a line-up change in Jethro Tull replacing features about Andy Warhol, Gang of Four and Factory Records on the cover. Several journalists, such as Chris Bohn and Vivien Goldman, moved to NME, while Jon Savage joined the new magazine The Face . Coleman left in 1981, the paper's design was updated, but sales and prestige were at a low ebb through the early 1980s, with NME dominant.
By 1983, the magazine had become more populist and pop-oriented, exemplified by its modish "MM" masthead, regular covers for the likes of Duran Duran and its choice of Eurythmics' Touch as the best album of the year. Things were to change, however. In February 1984, Allan Jones, a staff writer on the paper since 1974, was appointed editor: defying instructions to put Kajagoogoo on the cover, he led the magazine with an article on up-and-coming band The Smiths.
In 1986, MM was invigorated by the arrival of a group of journalists, including Simon Reynolds and David Stubbs, who had run a music fanzine called Monitor from the University of Oxford, and Chris Roberts, from Sounds , who established MM as more individualistic and intellectual. This was especially true after the hip-hop wars at NME, a schism between enthusiasts of progressive black music such as Public Enemy and Mantronix and fans of traditional white rock – ended in a victory for the latter, the departure of writers such as Mark Sinker and Biba Kopf (as Chris Bohn was now calling himself), and the rise of Andrew Collins and Stuart Maconie, who pushed NME in a more populist direction.
While MM continued to devote most space to rock and indie music (notably Everett True's coverage of the emerging grunge scene in Seattle), it covered house, hip hop, post rock, rave and trip hop. Two of the paper's writers, Push and Ben Turner, went on to launch IPC Media's monthly dance music magazine Muzik . Even in the mid-1990s, when Britpop brought a new generation of readers to the music press, it remained less populist than its rivals, with younger writers such as Simon Price and Taylor Parkes continuing the 1980s tradition of iconoclasm and opinionated criticism. The paper printed harsh criticism of Ocean Colour Scene and Kula Shaker, and allowed dissenting views on Oasis and Blur at a time when they were praised by the rest of the press.[ citation needed ]
In 1993, they gave a French rock band called Darlin' a negative review calling them "a daft punky thrash".[ citation needed ] Darlin' eventually became the electronic music duo Daft Punk.
Australian journalist Andrew Mueller joined MM in 1990 and became Reviews Editor between 1991 and 1993, eventually declining to become Features Editor and leaving the magazine in 1993. He then went on to join NME under his former boss Steve Sutherland (who had left MM in 1992).
The magazine retained its large classified ads section, and remained the first call for musicians wanting to form a band. Suede formed through ads placed in the paper. MM also continued to publish reviews of musical equipment and readers' demo tapes -though these often had little in common stylistically with the rest of the paper- ensuring sales to jobbing musicians who would otherwise have little interest in the music press.
In early 1997, Allan Jones left to edit Uncut . He was replaced by Mark Sutherland, formerly of NME and Smash Hits , who thus "fulfilled [his] boyhood dream" [ citation needed ]and stayed on to edit the magazine for three years. Many long-standing writers left, often moving to Uncut, with Simon Price departing allegedly because he objected to an edict that coverage of Oasis should be positive. Its sales, which had already been substantially lower than those of the NME, entered a serious decline.
In 1999, MM relaunched as a glossy magazine, but the new design did not help. The magazine closed the following year, merging into IPC Media's other music magazine, NME , which took on some of its journalists and music reviewers.
Advertisements in Melody Maker helped assemble the line-ups of a number of major bands, including:
Siouxsie and the Banshees were an English rock band, formed in London in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin. They have been widely influential, both over their contemporaries and with later acts. Mojo rated guitarist John McGeoch in their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" for his work on "Spellbound". The Times cited the group as "one of the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era".
Gothic rock is a style of rock music that emerged from post-punk in the late 1970s. The first post-punk bands which shifted towards dark music with gothic overtones include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Bauhaus, and the Cure.
New Musical Express (NME) is a British music journalism website and former magazine that has been published since 1952. It was the first British paper to include a singles chart, in the edition of 14 November 1952. In the 1970s it became the best-selling British music newspaper. During the period 1972 to 1976, it was particularly associated with gonzo journalism, then became closely associated with punk rock through the writings of Julie Burchill, Paul Morley and Tony Parsons. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s and 1990s, changing from newsprint in 1998.
Sounds was a UK weekly pop/rock music newspaper, published from 10 October 1970 to 6 April 1991. It was produced by Spotlight Publications, which was set up by Jack Hutton and Peter Wilkinson, who left Melody Maker to start their own company. Sounds was their first project, a weekly paper devoted to progressive rock and described by Hutton, to those he was attempting to recruit from his former publication, as "a leftwing Melody Maker". Sounds was intended to be a weekly rival to titles such as Melody Maker and New Musical Express (NME). It was well known for giving away posters in the centre of the paper and later for covering heavy metal and Oi! music in its late 1970s–early 1980s heyday.
Uncut magazine, trademarked as UNCUT, is a monthly publication based in London. It is available across the English-speaking world, and focuses on music, but also includes film and books sections. A DVD magazine under the Uncut brand was published quarterly from 2005 to 2006.
The Scream is the debut studio album by British alternative rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees. Recorded in one week and mixed in three during August 1978, it was released on 13 November 1978 by record label Polydor. Before the album's release, the band had developed a strong reputation as a live act, and had achieved a Top 10 UK single with "Hong Kong Garden".
Lucy O'Brien is an author and journalist whose work focuses on women in music.
Change Giver is the debut album by British rock band Shed Seven, released via Polydor Records on 5 September 1994. It was produced by Jessica Corcoran and was issued during the formative year of the britpop movement—a scene that dominated British alternative music in the mid-1990s.
Roy Carr was an English music journalist, covering pop, rock and jazz. He joined the New Musical Express (NME) in the late 1960s, and edited NME, Vox and Melody Maker magazines.
Allan Jones is a British music journalist and editor. Following graduation, Jones took a job in the stock room of Hatchards on Piccadilly. While there he applied for a writing opening at the rock weekly Melody Maker with a letter that concluded, "Melody Maker needs a bullet up its arse. I’m the gun – pull the trigger". He joined the staff in 1974, and became editor ten years later. After he wrote a scathing review of Pink Floyd's The Wall show at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, he was described on stage by Roger Waters as a "stupid shit". During Jones' tenure, Melody Maker provided early publicity for bands ranging from The Stone Roses to Pearl Jam. One of his most significant early decisions was to resist the publisher's instruction to put Kajagoogoo on the cover, choosing instead The Smiths.
Barney Hoskyns is a British music critic and editorial director of the online music journalism archive Rock's Backpages.
A music magazine is a magazine dedicated to music and music culture. Such magazines typically include music news, interviews, photo shoots, essays, record reviews, concert reviews and occasionally have a covermount with recorded music.
This Heat is the debut studio album by English experimental rock band This Heat. Recorded between 1976 and 1978, it was released in September 1979 by record label Piano.
Gala is the debut compilation album by the English alternative rock band Lush, released in 1990 by 4AD as an introduction to the US and Japanese markets, comprising the band's earliest releases in reverse chronological order, plus two additional tracks.
Turn to Red is an EP and the debut release by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 26 October 1979 by record label Malicious Damage. It was re-released as Almost Red on 14 December by record label Island.
The Holy Bible is the third studio album by Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. It was released on 30 August 1994 by record label Epic. At the time the album was written and recorded, lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards was struggling with severe depression, alcohol abuse, self-harm and anorexia nervosa, and its contents are considered by many sources to reflect his mental state. The songs focus on themes relating to politics and human suffering. The Holy Bible was the band's last album released before Edwards' disappearance on 1 February 1995.
The Tronics were a London-based band that released records from 1979 to 1984. The band was formed and fronted by musician, songwriter, and music producer Zarjaz Baby, also known as Ziro Baby.
Mad Love is the debut extended play by the English alternative rock band Lush. It was released on 26 February 1990 by 4AD. Produced by Cocteau Twins guitarist Robin Guthrie, Mad Love was composed of four tracks—including a rerecording of "Thoughtforms", a song from Lush's debut mini-album Scar (1989).
C86 is a cassette compilation released by the British music magazine NME in 1986, featuring new bands licensed from British independent record labels of the time. As a term, C86 quickly evolved into shorthand for a guitar-based musical genre characterized by jangling guitars and melodic power pop song structures, although other musical styles were represented on the tape. In its time, it became a pejorative term for its associations with so-called "shambling" and underachievement. The C86 scene is now recognized as a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK, as was recognized in the subtitle of the compilation's 2006 CD issue: CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop. 2014 saw the original compilation reissued in a 3CD expanded edition from Cherry Red Records; the 2014 box-set came with an 11,500-word book of sleevenotes by one of the tape's original curators, former NME journalist Neil Taylor.