OldStand: Melody Maker, April 11, 1987

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.

It’s spring, 1987, and Melody Maker checks in with The Cure on the eve of Kiss Me (x3). The band is at the height of its powers; nobody is moping, everybody is happy (you would be too if you had just written “Just Like Heaven”). So, how best to capture that wacky Tim Pope vibe? By drawing some whiskers on Robert Smith’s face!

Luckily people didn’t read Melody Maker for the graphic design. They read it for the snarky takedowns, the insider gossip, and, apparently, for the 50 pages of classified ads for used guitars. Also the writing, which is like your ten favorite RSS feeds mashed into one very dusty, impossible-to-scan broadsheet. No it’s not always brilliant, but it’s hard to deny the righteous, music-nerd passion. To wit:

Basically an oddity, [Boy George is] as sweet but as calculating as any man who smears his eyelids with Nutella, and he’ll get the same rough justice as this week’s rocket man, limping in and out of favour according to whichever Janus face he stares us out with.

Now, I have no idea what reviewer Carmen Keats thinks of Culture Club’s Greatest Hits, but damn that must have been fun to write (even if the last clause technically doesn’t make any sense). Unlike the stuffed shirts at Rolling Stone, the Melody Makers weren’t afraid to bring their glocks to the rock fight. Or, as Paul Mathur puts it in his review of an AIDS benefit concert at Wembley:

If the record company gatecrashers who threw up in the lounge want to prove that charity doesn’t necessarily begin up your nose they can start to prove it. You ought to be deeply repulsed by them.

In yer face, music industry blowhounds!

Below: Andrew Ridgeley earns one last paycheck, Mozz dominates the reader poll, and Paul Simon gets smacked down for making an album about “the toilet at the end of Elvis Presley’s boulevard.”

Yes, hello? I’d like to complain about this Communards/Ruby Turner/Terence Trent D’Arby advertisement.

Wow, this guy really hated The Capeman.

Bono started a second riot when he saw how they cropped this photo.

Who the hell are the Smiffs?

The score as of April 11, 1987: Morrissey 2, Bon Jovi 1, Chris DeBurgh -100.


MBV at #4, a sign of good things to come.