Recently finished reading A Hidden Landscape Once a Week: The Unruly Curiosity of the UK Music Press in the 1960s-80s, which Wire magazine has helpfully reprinted excerpts from. Carefully compiled and edited by Mark Sinker, funded through Kickstarter, this bulky compendium of essays, interviews, and panel discussions opens up the story of the British music press during its pre- and post-punk heyday, focusing primarily (though not exclusively) on the popular weeklies, NME, Melody Maker, and Sounds. As a long ago (roughly 1981-85) reader and collector (a fan, if not exactly a fanatic) of NME, Smash Hits, et al., I found A Hidden Landscape to be an absorbing read, and the format plays up to the strengths of what the book really is: an extended, oft-argumentative dialogue between a number of critics (some familiar to me, many not) grappling with what they did (and why) back when what they did mattered in ways they are collectively struggling to understand now. It’s a book that taught me a lot about stuff I knew nothing about, stuff I knew only a little about, and it raised a lot of questions for me too. Which I will have opportunity to ask Sinker personally, as I will be interviewing him soon for this site… Stay tuned.
A couple critics featured in rockcritics eons ago are prominent in the book: Richard Williams (including an excerpt from his 2002 interview with Simon Warner) and Simon Frith (American rock criticism’s “token Englishman,” to lift a phrase from his Stranded bio).
More good info about the book here. (Click on the photo above for purchasing options.)