ADJUSTING THE STARS :
Music journalism from post-punk London
During the early 1980s, London-based Mick Sinclair met many of the
music scene’s leading – or simply most intriguing – figures and wrote
about them for the major UK publications of the time, such as Sounds,
NME and Zigzag
often commercially neglected but critically acclaimed - and highly
influential – post-punk artists such as The Fall, The Monochrome Set,
Felt, The Triffids, the Go-Betweens, Killing Joke the Cocteau Twins and
the Marine Girls, Sinclair’s journalism brings revealing insights into
the contemporary sounds of those times while also chronicling the ups
and downs of a music journalist’s life.
accessible and entertaining collection of interviews and reviews, some
never previously published, also spans everything from anarcho punk to
stadium rock. Alongside established names, such as Eurythmics, Simple
Minds and Duran Duran, are punk legends Crass, Black Flag, the Ramones
and the Damned, and industrial noise pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten,
Foetus and Test Dept.
diverse subjects include writers Raymond Carver and Kathy Acker, LSD
guru Timothy Leary, explorer Christina Dodwell, historian Christopher
Andrew, film-maker Alex Cox and tabloid editor Derek Jameson.
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Adjusting the Stars:
mostly in major London-based music publications such as Sounds, NME and
Zigzag in the early to mid-1980s, the reviews and features included
here hopefully provide an otherwise hard-to-find contemporary
commentary on the era, revealing much about the music and the music
makers of the time as well as a little about one of the people, myself,
who wrote about it and them.
from complete and certainly not a ‘best of’, it is a collection that
for the most part would fail any test of journalistic quality. At least
early on, I never used one word where several would do, specialised in
sentences without verbs, and did little to challenge the idea that
overwritten, under-punctuated text with strong opinions based on vague
impressions was actually what was required (not least because it often
was what was required).
mitigation, all of it was heartfelt and honest, and driven by
enthusiasm rather than any particular writing ability. None of these
unexpurgated, unadorned pieces was expected to stand the scrutiny of a
month, never mind decades, but bringing them together might at least
help contextualise music that may be more than thirty years old but
often sounds uncannily like it was made yesterday.
to find a name for this collection, I fell asleep one night and dreamt
that I had the following conversation with the late Joe Strummer:
“Joe, what are you up to now you’re dead?”
“I’m adjusting the stars.”
just seemed so right.