OldStand: NME, December 19, 1981

Take our ink-stained hands and join us at the OldStand, where Jon McMillan goes to remind everyone what an honest-to-goodness music magazine is supposed to look like.

This week the wayback machine (or, as some people call it, eBay) drops us off in Londontown for a lengthy recap of the year in music, 1981. The cover promises an “88 Page Double Xmas Xtra,” which, after the 25 pages of Spandau Ballet references, still leaves plenty of room for the images of the year, a court-mandated feature on David Byrne (he was interviewed in every music-related publication that was published between 1976 and 1988), and enough charts to paper Margaret Thatcher’s outhouse.

Notable features include “Songs Drawn + Quartered,” in which artists are asked to put their own visual spin on the hits of the day (perhaps not the best idea for a newsprint broadsheet with questionable judgment on when to use spot-color, but very creative nonetheless), a sneaky-snarky month-by-month recap of ’81 (March was apparently the month in which Adam Ant’s “magpie combination of warpaint, feathers, leather, brocade and a big black Burundi beat put some pride back into pop.”), and the massive, year-end “Xmas Interrogation,” a 45-question brainbuster that reads, a quarter-century later, like Trivial Pursuit questions from another planet. You can take a crack at it after the jump.

Also: Mark Fairnington’s gives his anime-esque take on “Don’t You Want Me Baby?”, white people get funky, and Meatloaf turns out to be just as big of a dick as you would imagine.




Sadly, Alex Turner won’t be born for another four years.


Months before topping this chart, Human League invented guyliner and MTV.


The writer who made this witty quip was immediately struck by lightning.


“His name is Robert Paulson.”


“It certainly wasn’t the hardest funky stuff of the year, but it never pretended to be.” Suck it, SF-J!



By the end of the decade, Susan Ann Sulley actually was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.


If anybody can answer the (legible) questions correctly, we’ll post the rest of the exam.