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Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Oasis VS Blur Cover That Put NME Back on The Map
A 70s punk shocker, messy Madchester in the 80s, a 90s Britpop feud, and the X Factor Grinch in the 00s: on the eve of its 60th birthday next month, four NME editors pick their favourite covers and recall what defined their times....
It was the cover that defined my editorship. It also defined my era and it put NME back on the map as central to what was going on in Britain culturally at the time. And it made us famous for a brief period, so it was all very good.
It began on 24 January 1995, when NME held their Brat awards [its alternative to the Brits] at the Cockney theatre, a little downstairs place on Tottenham Court Road. It was Blur versus Oasis in the room that year, thanks to our reader votes. Blur won four awards and Oasis won three. Liam Gallagher approached Damon Albarn and used some really choice language relating to the female anatomy. And it all kicked off.
From there on no love was lost between the two camps, and Noel Gallagher was saying things such as: "Blur are a bunch of middle-class wankers trying to play hardball with working-class heroes." It was brilliantly fuelled by both bands' cocaine input. They were both at the top of their game and both very competitive. That summer my news team discovered something nobody else had noticed: Blur and Oasis were releasing their forthcoming singles to advertise their forthcoming albums on exactly the same day.
We decided to have a bit of fun with this and make some mischief, so we created this front cover with Damon Albarn on the left looking very arrogant and Liam Gallagher on the right looking very combative, and we modelled it on an old Ali v Fraser boxing poster. We set it up as a proper sporting event.
Then we canvassed an awful lot of people about who should win: Justine Frischmann from Elastica, Gaz from Supergrass; the managers, producers and record label bosses in both camps; the media. Within 24 hours it was all over News at Ten and all the broadsheets and tabloids had picked up on it. Everyone, from people driving white vans to university professors to girls at school, could talk about it: were you in the Blur camp or the Oasis camp? It was the middle of the summer, silly season, there wasn't much going on, and we managed to create a phenomenon.
To follow up, we produced two front covers – one with Oasis victorious, one with Blur victorious – because we honestly didn't know who was going to win. We had to hold the presses that weekend. As it turned out, Blur won: "Country House" beat "Roll With It". It was a soap opera, and soap operas are great for people who work on newspapers and magazines because you can become part of the story and it never really ends. We sold a lot of copies off the back of it, and NME became famous again, and it became synonymous with the glory years of Britpop.
It was a fantastic time to be working for a music paper in London because you could go out any night of the week to any pub and bump into somebody who was going to be on Top of the Pops that week, and buy them a drink. It felt like Britain was the centre of the universe, which was tremendously exciting, and you felt that the readership was very engaged. This was pre-internet so they were hungry for information about what was going on, and waiting for your NME on a Wednesday morning was a big deal. Obviously that's been eroded by the internet to a certain extent but at the time we felt that the magazine was really at the top of its game.
via L4e / source: The Guardian
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