Early 80's Smash Hits - was it any good?

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I've heard many glowing testimonials of this British teen pop mag, which apparently was very good indeed during most of the eighties and then suddenly went shit around 1990 or something. Was it really any good?

Chris Lyons, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yes!!! Yes!!! It was amazing! Except it was called Star Hits in the States for some inexplicable reason. It would have articles about the Jesus and Mary Chain sandwiched in next to articles about Tiffany Gibson. It changed my early teenage life! I can still quote you articles from it verbatim.

masonic boom, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, it was actually good. Not quite as fantastic reading old copies now as it seemed when I was 12 but it did its job very, very well indeed. Of course it helped that the pop star 'interview' was much less pr-controlled then.

Tom, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

They had a fellow called Red Starr (Ian Cranna? I think so) who used to enthuse wildly over the Fall and the Swell Maps and suchlike. It had a specialist disco page (with BPM and everything) and a specialist indie page (where you'd see oddities like the Kamikaze Pilots crop up alongside better known stuff like Postcard releases... NB is suspect this is historically inaccurate but you know what I mean). It would also go MAD slavering crazy over the popstar flavours of the month which was also great. And songwords, too. It all seemed completely natural at the time but I suppose in retrospect was quite special. By 86 or so it was really only useful for the mad-slavering- crazy over pop side of things, with occasional forays into chart indies like the Smiths or the JAMC.

The coverage was probably quite shallow, but that's OK. It was also very exciting. For me. But then, I was little.

Tim, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

i liked it when they printed lyrics. of, like, the cocteau twins and stuff...

gareth, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I might be in the minority here, but I still think they do a pretty decent job with the pop starz of the day. I'd much rather read 2001 Smash Hits than 2001 NME, etc.

Nicole, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

They also invented grate a grate pop language: Kylie was a Vixtress, and, er, I can't remember much more. Help me out.

mark s, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Foxtress

Also possibly foxtrel.

Dame David Bowie of course was theirs.

Grrr, there are more on the tip of my brain.

Tom, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

When someone was washed up they'd call them "down the dumpster", which I always liked.

Nicole, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

"IS MARILYN DOWN THE DUMPER?" - deemed worthy of excerption in Penguin Book Of Rock And Roll Writing, as I recall.

Tom, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Down the dumper = correct term. My poor brane has failed yet again in recalling the correct phrase.

Should I start a "IS RADIOHEAD DOWN THE DUMPER????" thread on ILM?

Nicole, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Fab Macca Wacky Thumbsaloft (circa Live Aid / "Pipes of Peace", I'm guessing).

Robin Carmody, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The Smash Hits used to be good?! That doesn't compute for me, being a young lad. I read it in my naive days back in the early 90's, getting it after my sister (who bought it to check up on the New Kids on the Block.... ah, those were the days.) But yeah, it still wasn't any good, obviously!! I assume it had a different readership back then?

Jamie Morrison, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I believe the Smash Hits speak -- 'spook', 'soaraway', 'swoonsome' etc -- was developed by Sylvia Patterson, who later switched to the NME but found its less playful, less ironic attitude unconducive to further development of the lingo, which could have become a pop Palare.

80s Smash Hits was pretty good. They even managed to include a little article about me in an oddly homoerotic feature about album covers inspired by classical art. I think it read: 'Momus explains that the naked male body could be an erotic subject for painters of the renaissance. Spook!'

Ian 'Jocky' Cranna was, at one point, Orange Juice's manager, which explains the focus on the Postcard groups (Edwyn even had a cover once). I used to hang out at the office on Carnaby Street late at night and watch them selecting the trannies (yes, slides of Dead or Alive) because I was dating the art editor.

Momus, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Didn't Tom Hibbert used to write for the Hits? He always used Hitspeak even when he wrote for the Observer. Like how he always, ALWAYS said "Tony 'Hi guys call me Tony' Blair". Well except for a brief post-Diana period where he refered to him as "Tony 'Hi guys call me Tony even in this time of national grief and mourning' Blair". And no matter what he was writing about, he'd use words like "wonky" or "Yoinks!"

Kipper Williams was good too. He does the cartoons on the financial pages of the Evening Bastard now doesn't he?

jamesmichaelward, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Hibbert also contributed to Ver Hits as editor of the letters page AKA "Black Type". Crivvens!

stevie t, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

didn't Neil Tennant once edit 'Ver Hits? and the ubiquitous Kate Thornton?

'Herbacious borders' was always a favourite.

JC, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

damn you cairns, you stole my herbacious border... but i give you um bongo um bongo they drink it in the congo. and why was lloyd cole and the commotions always an answer in the crossword? hmmm

barton, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Black Type also provided my all-time favourite Ver Hits moment, when a reader wrote in with a lyrical analysis of "I Just Called To Say I Love You", trying to work out what day Stevie W was calling his honey. A pointless popcrit pinnacle.

Tom, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

hehe...oh the scissors i have blunted cutting pages out of ver hits to decorate my room. all in the past i hasten to add. tennant was certainly a scribe, dunno about ed

sean, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

ACTUALLY, the PSBs 2nd lp is so-titled after Ver Hits vogue for over- using the word, and spelling it ACK-CHER-LOI!!! Jings!

stevie t, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

other bits of smash hits lingo circa 84-90:

putting 'puh-lease' at the end of sentences (started by the boy tennant, and the title of psb's 1st album), referring to rock as 'rawk' and heavy metal types as 'muthas', calling billy idol and cliff Sir William of Idol and Sir Cliffard of Richard, saying 'fancy that!' all the time, calling pop divas 'songstress' and the like, putting 'ver' at the start of bands' names (as an alternative to 'the', but originated by a shortenening of the 'vanilla' bit in 'vanilla fudge') referring to the comeback of pop types as them coming 'back! back!! back!!!' etc.

All the 80's writers (chris heath, mat snow, Hibbert, Mark Ellen Dave Cavannagh, etc.) all write for the papers and 'proper' rawk mags and the like. oh puh-lease.

piscesboy, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

they hav all been majorly rubbish outside of ver hits: i think this was Government by Unsung Genius Sub-Editor.
Ian Cranna = a nice man

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

"calling billy idol and cliff Sir William of Idol and Sir Cliffard of Richard"

Also Lord Freddie of Mercurydom

Madchen, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The more I read this thread, the more that I realise how much of my life and very personality were shaped by teenage reading of Ver Hits. What are the kids of today going to have their minds molded by? Sigh.

masonic boom, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

"What are the kids of today going to have their minds molded by?" = Freaky Trigger & ILM/E hurrah!

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I fear for society... ::ducks::

masonic boom, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

No Rock 'N Roll Fun reprints a vintage Ver Hits from '81. cool.

Sterling Clover, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft! HAH! Thanks for that reminder Robin. Totally forgot about that.

Remember some amusing picture story about winsurfing the "Paul Young way" tho.... and those year end editions with the calendar spreads incl. spoofy rainy day craft projects.

Didn't they also have a near unhealthy obsession with the Beastie Boys for a few years there? Always seemed to be a photo of them overturning a car in Montreaux or some such. Could just be me.

Kim, Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...
music started and ended in the 80's .It would've been amazing to know Neil Tennant before the Pet shop boys...did he interview anyone?

petshop girl, Wednesday, 1 December 2004 02:09 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Tricky Disco - Tricky Disco

Wooh Yeah! (Repeat x32)

Tricky Disco!

Wooh Yeah! (Repeat x16)

dog latin (dog latin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 02:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I still have a clipped Smash Hits lyric page of "Some Candy Talking" by The Jesus and Mary Chain! I mean, this is a song about cunnilingus/heroin!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 02:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

would've been amazing to know Neil Tennant before the Pet shop boys...did he interview anyone?

first UK interview with Madonna!

kit brash (kit brash), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 10:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I remember him interviewing Ver Style Council, just after the video for 'Long Hot Summer', trying to get Paul Weller to admit he was gay.

Before he worked at Smash Hits, he also edited 'The Unigate Bumper Book of Household Hints for Housewives'*.

* May not be actual title.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 10:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink

And the words to "New face in hell" the Fall.

It's not Smash Hits' fault the stuff around now is not as vibrant/visible.

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 10:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"It would've been amazing to know Neil Tennant before the Pet shop boys...did he interview anyone?"

EMAP published a paperback anthology Best of Smash Hits in the late 80s. Includes classic NT interviews with Kajagoogoo, The Police and more. Also features the work of Dave Rimmer, Tom Hibbert, etc.

m coleman (lovebug starski), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 13:27 (twelve years ago) Permalink

My favourite Smash Hits catchphrase was, “Puh-lease! It’s like punk never happened!” (Also coined by Tennant, I think.)

Palomino (Palomino), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 13:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

tell me more about Tom Hibbert in the early 80s someone please?

Frankenstein On Ice (blueski), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 13:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Here's a funny interview with Tennant by Hibbert: http://www.chrislowe.co.uk/interviews_neil_times.html

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 14:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am Boris Becker and i claim my 500 pounds!

OleM (OleM), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 14:26 (twelve years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

Feel free to flash back and judge for yourself.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 1 February 2010 15:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

Wow! Thanx a lot for the link, Ned! I could only find these sporadically in the States and those were well after the Tennant years.

Kevin John Bozelka, Monday, 1 February 2010 18:30 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Every copy of Smash Hits (apparently) -

http://likepunkneverhappened.blogspot.com/

progressive cuts (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:25 (six years ago) Permalink

good lord

for all the fucked-up children of this world we give you 1p3 (history mayne), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:26 (six years ago) Permalink

WS early 80s Terry Hall

Nulty By Nature (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:45 (six years ago) Permalink

"calling billy idol and cliff Sir William of Idol and Sir Cliffard of Richard"
Also Lord Freddie of Mercurydom

also Freddie Mercury = Lord Lucan

communist kickball (m coleman), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 16:13 (six years ago) Permalink

oh wow

I have a couple books that have lots of Smash Hits covers and articles in them but this is sort of incredible.

ENBB, Wednesday, 23 February 2011 16:28 (six years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

Following on from that earlier blog link, the whole 1983 yearbook

http://www.flickr.com/photos/51106326@N00/sets/72157632080126607/

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 March 2013 17:49 (four years ago) Permalink

omg I had that book

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Friday, 15 March 2013 22:15 (four years ago) Permalink

surprisingly little colour.

piscesx, Friday, 15 March 2013 22:28 (four years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

here's a look back at the v early days of Smash Hits' US "cousin" (or stepchild) Star Hits. much more to come!

https://markwrite57.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/new-pop-prelude/

busy bee starski (m coleman), Wednesday, 12 July 2017 22:56 (four months ago) Permalink


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