Three magazines from my huge archive of 80s stuff – Record Mirror featuring Blondie, My Guy with Steve Strange and No.1 magazine with the faces of 1983. Record Mirror was a good music mag but it never inspired the tribal loyalty that attached to the NME, Melody Maker and Sounds.
In the late 70s, it would publish painted images of pop stars, some of which I’ve framed as they were rather fetching. The mag closed down in 1991 but bizarrely, the name was bought by Giovanni di Stefano – an Italian lawyer most famous for being on Saddam Hussein’s legal defence team!
Here’s a PC dilemma to conjure with. A pop artist produces a song with the word spastic all over it and of course, as a radio station you decide to ban it. Only problem is the artist himself is disabled himself and therefore, not unreasonably, thinks he’s the best judge of what the song should be saying.
And so it came to pass in September 1981 that Ian Drury – punk vocalist and childhood sufferer of polio – came to find himself doing battle with radio DJs because he’d referred to himself as a spastic. Polydor explained in a press release that the record was not getting stocked in shops and being deprived of airplay because of this reason.
The record company, which had decided to go ahead and delete the record, said: “The people who control pop radio seem to consider that this is a word that can’t be used in polite society or in a normal context but only in hushed, serious or reverent terms.”
Ironically, 1981 was the International Year of Disabled People.
It’s strange to recall the thrill of buying a triple pack of AD-C90 TDK tapes at the special purchase price of £4.50 at WH Smith, thinking of all the great sounds that would soon populate them.
WH Smith would also pile on the excitement by entering you for their £3,000 holiday draw. I don’t think the three grand went to one person, it was a load of travel vouchers that got plastered round to lots of winners.
Of course there was little point in getting the C120 because the tape really was thinner and more likely to snarl. A mate of mine used to send me compilation tapes of music because he fancied himself as a font of all musical knowledge and felt he was somehow educating me. They were like cultural Red Cross parcels.
Of course, they were killed off by CDs….though slowly. Personally, I was glad when the iPod came along and I could put my screwdriver away and stop waiting for that awful moment when your music speeded up and you knew the tape was gunged up in your deck.