Paul Morley

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Paul Morley
Christopher Austin Paul Morley.jpg
Paul Morley (left) with Chris Austin, in rehearsal for Morley's "Yet another example of the porousness of certain borders" at the Royal Academy of Music
Background information
Birth namePaul Robert Morley
Born (1957-03-26) 26 March 1957 (age 62)
Farnham, Surrey, England, UK
Occupation(s)Journalist, writer, music producer
Associated acts Art of Noise, Infantjoy

Paul Robert Morley [1] (born 26 March 1957) is an English music journalist. He wrote for the New Musical Express from 1977 to 1983 and has since written for a wide range of publications. He was a co-founder of the record label ZTT Records and was a member of the synthpop group Art of Noise. He has also been a band manager, promoter and television presenter.

ZTT Records is a British record label founded in 1983 by record producer Trevor Horn, Horn's wife, businesswoman Jill Sinclair, and NME journalist Paul Morley. The label's name was also printed as "Zang Tumb Tuum" and "Zang Tuum Tumb" on various releases.

Art of Noise British band

Art of Noise were an English avant-garde synth-pop group formed in early 1983 by engineer/producer Gary Langan and programmer J. J. Jeczalik, along with arranger Anne Dudley, producer Trevor Horn and music journalist Paul Morley. The group had international Top 20 hits with "Kiss" and the instrumental "Peter Gunn", which won a 1986 Grammy Award.


Early life

Morley was born in Farnham, Surrey, [2] and moved with his family to Reddish, Stockport, before starting school. [3] He was educated at Stockport Grammar School, at the time a direct grant grammar school, and the Royal Academy of Music. In his later teenage years, he would travel to London "in search of music, and new experience". [4]

Farnham town in Surrey, England

Farnham is a town in Surrey, England, within the Borough of Waverley. The town is 34.5 miles (55.5 km) southwest of London in the extreme west of Surrey, adjacent to the border with Hampshire. By road, Guildford is 11 miles (17 km) to the east and Winchester a further 28 miles (45 km) along the same axis as London. Farnham is the second largest town in Waverley, and one of the five largest conurbations in Surrey. It is of historic interest, with many old buildings, including a number of Georgian houses. Farnham Castle overlooks the town. A short distance southeast of the town centre are the ruins of Waverley Abbey, Moor Park House and Mother Ludlam's Cave. Farnham is twinned with Andernach in Germany. It is drained by the River Wey which is navigable only to canoes at this point.

Reddish area of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, in Greater Manchester, England

Reddish is an area of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, Greater Manchester, England, 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Stockport and 4.6 miles (7.4 km) southeast of Manchester. At the 2011 Census, the population was 28,052. Historically part of Lancashire, Reddish grew rapidly in the Industrial Revolution and still retains landmarks from that period, such as Houldsworth Mill, a former textile mill.

Stockport town in Greater Manchester, England

Stockport is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Manchester city centre, where the River Goyt and Tame merge to create the River Mersey, and the largest in the metropolitan borough of the same name.


Morley wrote for three Manchester area magazines in the late 1970s, Penetration, Out There and Girl Trouble. [5] He then went on to write for NME, where he and colleagues such as Ian Penman developed an innovative style of music criticism that drew on critical theory and other non-musical sources. [6] Whilst working at NME, he lived in NW London in between Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road. [4] After leaving the NME, he was a regular contributor to BLITZ magazine from 1984 to 1987, penning a monthly television column as well as a series of interviews.

Ian Penman is a British writer, music journalist, and critic. He began his career as a writer for the NME in 1977, later contributing to various publications including Uncut, Sight & Sound, The Wire, The Face, and The Guardian. He is the author of Vital Signs: Music, Movies, and Other Manias.

Critical theory Philosophy that sociological understandings primarily use should be social reform

Critical theory is the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. Critical theory has origins in sociology and also in literary criticism. The sociologist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."

<i>BLITZ</i> British fashion and culture magazine

BLITZ was a British fashion and culture magazine published between 1980 and 1991.

For a period of time, Morley produced and managed Manchester punk band the Drones. [7] However, he first came to wider attention with a brief appearance in the video for ABC's "The Look of Love" (in which he mimes the words "what's that?" in a call-and-response routine with singer Martin Fry), and some fame as co-founder, with Trevor Horn, of ZTT Records and electronic group Art of Noise.

ABC (band) English New Romantic band

ABC are an English pop band that formed in Sheffield in 1980. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Martin Fry, guitarist and keyboardist Mark White, saxophonist Stephen Singleton and drummer David Palmer.

The Look of Love (ABC song) single

"The Look of Love" is a song by English band ABC, released as a single in 1982. It was the band's highest charting hit in the UK, peaking at No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart. It was included on their debut studio album, The Lexicon of Love.

Martin Fry British singer

Martin David Fry is an English singer, songwriter, composer, musician, and record producer.

Morley is credited with steering the marketing and promotion of the phenomenal early success of ZTT's biggest act, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, heavily influenced by Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft's image for Alles Ist Gut . [8] Although it has never been confirmed, it is claimed that Morley authored the provocative slogans on the band's T-shirts (e.g. "Frankie Say Arm the Unemployed", "Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself").[ citation needed ]

Frankie Goes to Hollywood British band

Frankie Goes to Hollywood were a British band formed in Liverpool, England in the 1980s. The group was fronted by Holly Johnson (vocals), with Paul Rutherford (vocals), Peter Gill, Mark O'Toole, and Brian Nash (guitar).

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft German band

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft or D.A.F. is an influential German electropunk/Neue Deutsche Welle band from Düsseldorf, formed in 1978 featuring Gabriel "Gabi" Delgado-López (vocals), Robert Görl, Kurt "Pyrolator" Dahlke, Michael Kemner (bass-guitar) and Wolfgang Spelmans (guitar). Kurt Dahlke was replaced by Chrislo Haas in 1979. Since 1981, the band has consisted of Delgado-López and Görl.

<i>Alles Ist Gut</i> 1981 studio album by Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft

Alles ist gut is the third album by the electropunk band Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. It was released in 1981 and was the band's first album on the Virgin Records label. It includes the hit single "Der Mussolini". The album was a massive hit in Germany, charting for 46 weeks.

He was the first presenter of BBC Two's The Late Show , and has appeared as a music pundit on a number of other programmes. For the short-lived Channel 4 arts strand Without Walls he wrote and presented a documentary on boredom. Morley regularly appeared on BBC's The Review Show .[ citation needed ]

BBC Two Second television channel operated by the BBC

BBC Two is the second flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tends to broadcast more "highbrow" programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio channels, it is funded by the television licence, and is therefore free of commercial advertising. It is a comparatively well-funded public-service network, regularly attaining a much higher audience share than most public-service networks worldwide.

Channel 4 British free-to-air television channel

Channel 4 is a British public-service free-to-air television network headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It began transmission on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the station is now owned and operated by Channel Four Television Corporation, a public corporation of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which was established in 1990 and came into operation in 1993. With the conversion of the Wenvoe transmitter group in Wales to digital terrestrial broadcasting on 31 March 2010, Channel 4 became a UK-wide television channel for the first time.

The Review Show is a British discussion programme dedicated to the arts which ran, under several titles, from 1994 to 2014. The programme featured a panel of guests who reviewed developments in the world of the arts and culture.

He was the focus of BBC Two's How to Be a Composer , in which he spent a year at the Royal Academy of Music attempting to learn to compose classical music, despite being unable to read music or play an instrument.

Morley is the author of Words and Music: the history of pop in the shape of a city. The book is a journey through the history of pop; it seeks to trace the connection between Alvin Lucier's experimental audio recording, "I Am Sitting in a Room" and Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head". A synthetic Kylie features as the central character of the book. The book was later turned into the hour-long epic musical track "Raiding the 20th Century" by DJ Food, which features Morley reading from his book and speculating on the cultural significance of the mashup, amidst the sounds of those very mashups.

His other books include Ask: The Chatter of Pop (a collection of his music journalism) and Nothing, concerning his father's suicide and that of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis and such unhappy experience as the time Morley spent at Stockport Grammar School.

Morley teamed up with the Auteurs' James Banbury to form the band Infantjoy and in 2005 released an album entitled Where the Night Goes on Sony BMG. With, an album featuring collaborations with Tunng, Isan and other musicians, was released in October 2006 on Morley and Banbury's own label ServiceAV.

Morley is a fan of the jazz musician John Surman and conducted an interview with the artist for The Guardian newspaper. [9]

Personal life

Morley was married to Claudia Brücken with whom he has a son and a daughter. [10]

He is the brother of filmmaker Carol Morley. [11]

Cultural references

The Cure played a version of their song "Grinding Halt", retitled for that performance as "Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation", on the John Peel radio show, [12] with new lyrics parodying Morley's writing style after an unfavourable review of their debut album Three Imaginary Boys . A 2010s post-punk band, Desperate Journalist, have adapted this as their name.


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  1. "Paul Morley, Esq Authorised Biography". Debrett's People of Today. 26 March 1957. Archived from the original on 22 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  2. "Results for England & Wales Births 1837–2006 – Paul R Morley". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  3. Morley, Paul (2013). The North: (And Almost Everything in It). Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 187. ISBN   9780747578161.
  4. 1 2 Morley, Paul (2013). The Bakerloo Line: Earthbound. London: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN   978-1-846-14645-9.
  6. frieze Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  7. The Drones' band biography at Allmusic
  8. Reynolds, Simon (February 2006). "Chapter 22: Raiding The Twentieth Century: ZTT, The Art Of Noise, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood". Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 (paperback) (US ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN   1-4295-2667-X.
  9. "... John Surman" The Guardian 26 March 2010 Retrieved 11 October 2011
  10. "THE ELECTRICITY CLUB – CLAUDIA BRUCKEN INTERVIEW". Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  11. "Profile: Carol Morley". The List. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  12. "The Quietus – News – LISTEN: Desperate Journalist – Organ". The Quietus. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  13. Sarah Crompton (2 July 2013). "The North (And Almost Everything in It) by Paul Morley, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  14. "Paperback reivew: [sic] Earthbound, By Paul Morely". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2015.