A celebrity endorsement

Where do cultural icons get their political fix?

Production on the NS culture desk this week has slowed to a crawl as we explore the riches on offer over at the Archived Music Press blog. Some dedicated soul has scanned in pages from old issues of Melody Maker and the New Musical Express, dating from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

A niche area, you might think, but this was a time when the UK music press was a more adventurous beast than it is today. Amid the bad puns and profiles of long-forgotten bands such as Menswear or Lush (whose single an interviewer breathlessly describes as "the 'Wake Up Boo!' of 1996 . . .") there is loads of passionate, clever and wilfully subjective writing.

Among the highlights are Caitlin Moran's interview with Courtney Love in 1994; David Stubbs's prescient review of Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, which deconstructed the band's schtick just as everybody else was going crazy for them; and Everett True's review of a Tricky and P J Harvey gig in 1995. You can also see the work of acclaimed photographers such as Kevin Cummins, whose work we've recently featured.

Oh! But what's this? A 1988 interview with the Fall's Mark E Smith where, in between diatribes on Britain's north-south divide and the state of Labour (good reading for anyone in the current, opposition-bound party), he delivers this choice soundbite:

"When I want to read politics, I buy New Statesman, it's as simple as that."

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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“The Hole-Up”: a poem by Matthew Sweeney

“You could taste the raw / seagull you’d killed and plucked, / the mussels you’d dug from sand, / the jellyfish that wobbled in your / hands as you slobbered it.”

Lying on your mouth and nose
on the hot sand, you recall
a trip in a boat to the island –
the fat rats that skittered about
after god-knows-what dinner,
the chubby seals staring up,
the sudden realisation that a man
on the run had wintered there
while the soldiers scoured
the entire shoreline to no avail –
you knew now you had been him
out there. You could taste the raw
seagull you’d killed and plucked,
the mussels you’d dug from sand,
the jellyfish that wobbled in your
hands as you slobbered it.
You saw again that first flame
those rubbed stones woke in
the driftwood pile, and that rat
you grilled on a spar and found
delicious. Yes, you’d been that man,
and you had to admit now you
missed that time, that life,
though you were very glad you
had no memory of how it ended.


Matthew Sweeney’s Black Moon was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Prize. His latest collection is Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe).

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt