Sounds (magazine)

Last updated

Sounds 2451980.jpg
Cover of Sounds (24 May 1980)
CategoriesMusic newspaper
First issue10 October 1970
Final issue6 April 1991
Company United Newspapers
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon

Sounds was a UK weekly pop/rock music newspaper, published from 10 October 1970 to 6 April 1991. It was known for giving away posters in the centre of the paper (initially black and white, then colour from late 1971) and later for covering heavy metal (especially the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM)) [1] and punk and Oi! music in its late 1970s–early 1980s heyday. [2]



It was produced by Spotlight Publications (part of Morgan Grampian), which was set up by John Thompson and Jo Saul with 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).

Sounds was one of the first music papers to cover punk. [3] Mick Middles covered the Manchester music scene for Sounds from 1978 to 1982 writing about many of the up and coming bands of the time from Buzzcocks and Slaughter & The Dogs to The Fall and Joy Division. [4] John Robb joined in 1987 and used the term "Britpop" [nb 1] to refer to bands such as the La's, the Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets, [6] although it did not develop into the Britpop genre/movement at that time (as these acts were grouped under labels such as Baggy, Madchester and indie-dance).

Keith Cameron wrote about Nirvana after Robb carried out the first interview with them. [7]

The Obscurist Chart ran for about a year, first appearing on 5 September 1981 issue, [8] as an alternative to the main, sales-driven record charts, allowing bands and music outside the mainstream to be recognised. [8] The chart was started by Paul Platypus, who played with Mark Perry in The Reflections and compiled the first nine charts. The last chart appeared in 11 December 1982 issue. [8]

In 1987, Morgan-Grampian had been acquired by United News and Media (later to become United Business Media), first as part of the United Advertising Publications (UAP) division and later as part of the then CMP Information portfolio. A legacy of Sounds was the creation of the heavy metal/rock magazine Kerrang! , which was originally issued as a supplement before being spun off as a separate publication. [1]

Sounds was one of the trinity of British music weeklies, along with NME and Melody Maker, that were colloquially known as 'The Inkies'. [9] Sounds folded in 1991 after the parent company, United Newspapers, decided to concentrate on trade papers like Music Week and so sold most of their consumer magazines titles to EMAP Metro, with Sounds being closed at the same time as its sister music magazine, the more chart and dance music oriented Record Mirror .


Contributors included Garry Bushell, Sandy Robertson, Giovanni Dadomo, Mick Middles, Geoff Barton, John Robb, Phil Bell, Mick Sinclair, [10] Caroline Coon, Antonella Gambotto, Vivien Goldman, Jonh Ingham, Alan Moore (a.k.a. "Curt Vile"), [11] Lizo Mzimba, [12] John Peel, Barbara Charone, Edwin Pouncey (a.k.a. "Savage Pencil"), Cathi Unsworth, Jon Ronson, Jon Savage, Sylvie Simmons, Penny Valentine, Marguerite Van Cook, Mary Anne Hobbs, Mat Snow, Johnny Waller, James Brown (who went on to form Loaded ), Andy Ross (who wrote as "Andy Hurt" and went on to form Food Records), Steve Lamacq, Kev F. Sutherland and Russ Carvell's UT strip, and photographers Michael Putland, Ian Dickson, Jill Furmanovsky, Andy Phillips, Steve Payne, Virginia Turbett, Tony Mottram, Ross Halfin and Janette Beckman. [13]


  1. Journalist and BBC Radio 6 Music radio presenter Stuart Maconie is credited with first using the term Britpop in 1993 in relation to a new "Great British pop" movement which would counteract the success of alt. rock and grunge from America. The term "Britpop" arose when the media were drawing on the success of the Young British Artists, collectively also referred to as "Britart", and applied a "Britart-esque" label to a number of new British indie musicians, coming up with "Britpop", though recounting the event in a BBC Radio 2 programme from 2020, Maconie believed "Britpop" was a term used in the 1960s, around the time of the British Invasion. [5]

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  1. 1 2 Tucker, John (2006). "Denim and Leather – 1979". Suzie Smiles... The New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Church Stretton, Shropshire, UK: Independent Music Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN   978-0-9549704-7-5. Sounds (...) produced more and more features as the editorial staff realised that metal was one of the main reasons the paper sold
  2. "Cockney Rejects: History and Pictures / Oi Music / Punk Rock". Archived from the original on 28 August 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  3. Bushell, Garry (2016). Sounds of Glory: The Punk and Ska Years review. ISBN   978-1910705469.
  4. Middles, Mick. "Rock's Back Pages: Mick Middles" . Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  5. "The Britpop Top 50 with Jo Whiley". Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  6. "'I had no idea they would be so big' – John Robb on Manchester music, Britpop, and being the first to interview Nirvana". Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  7. Robb, John (25 October 2009). "Classic Interview: Nirvana 1989". Clash . Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  8. 1 2 3 Platypus, Paul (15 August 2010). "Obscurist Chart Archive" . Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  9. "From weekly to weakly". . 3 February 2002.
  10. "The Mick Sinclair Archive" . Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  11. "The Sounds Collection". The Alan Moore Store. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  12. Display Ad Awakenings The Observer; 17 March 1991
  13. "ACAPULCO GOLD INTERVIEW: JANETTE BECKMAN". Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008.