As much as I slowly fell out of love with The NME from about the mid nineties onwards, though that could just as easily be because I was neither that enthused with grunge or that excited about Brit-pop, admiring greatness has to be a relative thing, something done from a distance. After all Liz Frazer was 19 when The Cocteau Twins made Garlands, as was Kate Bush when she made The Kick Inside and Van Morrison only 23 when he made Astral Weeks.
The point is sometimes artists best work happens because of the energy of youth and you could argue that the paper did its best work in its twenties. Writes Like Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent, Ian McDonald and Mick Farren guided the music fan through the golden age of rock excess, before the likes of Burchill and Parsons gonzoed their way through the punk years.
The eighties were a bit trickier but for every Paul Morley banging on about dead philosophers in a dense and unreadable style, you had a Stephen Wells and his wonderfully antagonistic tirades, a knowledgable Barney Hoskins and a whole host of people who now get wheeled out as talking heads on Sky Arts documentaries.
I read all the other papers too, Sounds for the more rock orientated coverage, Melody Maker for the pop stuff, and between the three of them and the likes of John Peel’s quasi-religious broadcasts, in this pre-internet age, they helped me find bands that I may never have otherwise got acquainted with.
NME may have turned into Just 17 trying to be Rolling Stone magazine in its twilight years but there was always something about the legacy of NME’s early writers, much of which now sits as collected anthologies on my bookshelves. I loved its aloofness, its elitism, its snobbery, its journalistic standards and ability to break the rules, even its own.I loved its depth, its left field stance and writing that made me sit up and take notice of of some great bands. It had been a long time since we last hung out together my old friend and you were a changed entity from one I remember from my youth but I still mourn your passing. Sleep well my snarky little inky.