I know, I am so late in picking up on the ‘Radio Two Boys’ books but having read Mark Radcliffe’s earlier this year, I had to readdress the balance by reading Maconie’s from 2003..
A different read altogether, although both massive music fans, Maconie being a hardened NME hack from the 80’s – 90s, his stories are markedly different.
Whereas Radcliffe talks about how he met some of his musical ‘heroes’ (No, Stuart, I cannot think of a better word but we will need to invent one) and what an impact they had previously on his young life, Maconie has to remain aloof. An NME hack he otherwise would not be.
I enjoyed the early excitement of his first record, first gig, first band to play in as well as many other firsts including his first hearing of the Beatles but most importantly The Smiths who unusually, always appear to stay the ‘darlings of the NME’ whereas others come and go.
But let’s be honest, the rapid page turning really starts after the absolute joy of having his first review accepted by the NME. For I too was that person when I was a teen and spent many hard earned pennies on postage by sending grovelling letters to the music press and even getting interviewed by Mr David Hepworth. I cannot remember which magazine it was for but they called me in even though there wasn’t a job going because of ‘my enthusiasm’. However, although music is my first love, I loved all media and started working on the best local newspaper and stayed in newspapers for over a decade. Too cut a long story short, I decided I didn’t want to be poor and can return to writing at much later date (now, for example) and if I earn a decent wage, I don’t need to rely on the free gig tickets and albums that a journalist receives.
Back to the page turning, the book lit up as Maconie became a fully fledged NME writer, being sent round the world to interview bands that pick up the tab for the fancy hotel stays, the fancy drinks and any fancies that were deemed necessary.
The first in his case was INXS in America, for which Maconie had to get himself a passport and a visa in a couple of days. How things have changed.
I don’t know when I realised this but Maconie was a fully qualified rock journalist before he realised that the record companies – and therefore the bands, paid for the journalist expenses. The bigger realisation is that bands only did interviews and paid for journalist’s expenses to go and interview them when they had something to promote (Knowledge I must have been born with as I just don’t remember learning it). So basically the journalist expenses come out of the PR and marketing budget but this was a big day for Maconie.
A highlight for me when Maconie meets my own music inspirations, Chic, AKA, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers. In this case, the author did ask them to autograph his record and quite frankly, I would have done the same.
I love that innocence in this book, the reason that no matter how hardened he got Maconie, kept – indeed keeps – his enthusiasm for good music today.
Long may the Radio Two Boys reign
Monday to Wednesday 8-10pm (Sadly no longer Thursdays)
Inspiration factor 9½/10