For those who were there in 1971, the shock of seeing Faust's eponymous debut LP remains starkly etched in the mind's eye. You could see right through it! Not only was the vinyl transparent, but it came packaged in a plastic representation of an X-Ray print of a hand. The next brain warp came when the(...)


Madchester (so named because it originated in Manchester in the north of England) was the dominant force in British rock during the late 80s and early 90s. A fusion of acid-house dance rhythms and melodic pop, "Madchester" was distinguished by its loping beats, psychedelic flourishes, and hooky choruses, but while the song structures were familiar, the arrangements(...)


Let's get one thing clear before we begin: The Beatles did not create Merseybeat, it created them. And although they are by far the most famous of the city's sons, Liverpool would have become a focal point for the music industry even if The Beatles had emigrated to Australia in 1961. By 1962, some 350 groups were(...)

Mod Revival

Summer 1978 - England: Two years on, punk has exploded from its roots in grubby Sex Pistols gigs to shock exposés, hit singles, high street fashion and cartoon punks like Sham 69. It has lost its bite. The Jam, part of punk's first wave, also appeared to have lost their edge, but as the year wears on, they emerge with(...)

New Romantic

Each decade of popular music so far has its merits and its embarrassments. But perhaps the most derided of them all is the Eighties. Looking back on this most confused of eras - a juxtaposition of gloom (urban decay in Sheffield) and luminescence (the fluorescent socks your auntie bought you in 1983) - it's easy(...)

New Wave

New Wave is often remembered more for skinny ties and silly haircuts than for musical merits. The Police, Elvis Costello, The Cars and Blondie all lent some respect to the genre, peaking in 1983 when The Police's Synchronicity went Number One worldwide. So what exactly was New Wave? Well, essentially it was all post-punk era music (starting circa 1977) that journalists, record label(...)

New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM)

In the early 1980s, UK rock magazine Sounds ardently promoted (and christened) the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal -  the acronym of which is spelt NWOBHM and pronounced "nuh'wobbum". Decades on from its humble beginnings in scabby working men's clubs, pubs and nightclubs across England's ravaged industrial heartlands, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal seems(...)

Northern Soul

A musical movement born in the industrial North of England, the Northern Soul phenomenon grew out of club-goers passion for black American dance music. It morphed eventually into a craze for rare (and by extension, very expensive) records, and even lionised some quirky artists and even quirkier records. Eventually the scene spread way beyond the(...)

Oi! Music

By the end of the 1970s, punk in Britain was splintering into several distinct strains, most of them quite "arty". Oi! music was an attempt to keep punk a populist, street-level phenomenon, and most of it came from the working class of South London and the cockney East End. When Garry Bushell, then features editor at Sounds, coined(...)

Power Pop

While it is very easy to dismiss this sub-genre of music, the fact remains that power pop (even at its most commercially manipulated) had a longer history than many people realise, producing some terrific bands and absolutely classic music. The musical source for nearly all power pop is The Beatles. Virtually all stylistic appropriations begin with them.(...)

Prog Rock

Without Prog Rock the world would certainly be a duller place. Men in robes; songs about astronomy, mythology and numerology; banks of Moogs and Mellotrons and church organs - You could certainly never call Prog "drab", though it has always been (and still is) routinely derided as the moment when rock traded its heart for(...)

Protest Music

Jazz and blues have always attacked injustice, as in Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, written in 1938 about the lynching of black Americans. But the pop protest song kicked off in the 1960s when artists like Bob Dylan began to write and sing songs like The Death Of Emmett Till about a race killing. By the end of 1965, Protest Music was "in"(...)

Pub Rock

The full story of Pub Rock can be read in Will Birch's excellent book No Sleep Till Canvey Island (Virgin). In it, the former Kursaal Flyers drummer recounts how an American band called Eggs Over Easy blagged themselves a gig at the Tally Ho pub, a former jazz club on Fortress Road in Kentish Town, London (sadly now demolished to make(...)


In 1977, merely suggesting that the Queen was a moron (or a potential H Bomb) would get you banned from the charts. These days The Sex Pistols could duet with Eminem, three strippers and a donkey, and roll Her Majesty around Trafalgar Square in a barrel and nobody would give a damn. Times have changed. Punk took(...)

Rap/Hip Hop

Rap and Hip Hop started out as black New York underground movements at the start of the 1980s, but by the end of the decade had infiltrated pop, cross bred with heavy metal, installed itself in the charts, dominated dance, and totally taken over the fashion world with an explosion of track suits, trainers and(...)

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