Times Of Our Lives: 1980 – Choose Your NME


OK, hands up all those who got a detention for tapping out the intro to ‘Antmusic’ on the school desk? Yeah, me too. I think I got the second detention inside a couple of minutes for singing “We don’t need no educashun” in an act of pseudo-defiance masking a clear case of copping the arse at my musical career being stopped in its tracks.

Which may have been the only occasion that a punishment was meted out for enjoying music and pop culture. Probably not but it felt like it. Still, scoring a volley from the halfway line – returning a goal kick ‘with interest’ – made up for it that lunchtime. You had to be there.

One of the beauties – and I’ll come back to these things when I can fully do them justice – of growing up in ‘my era’ was the proliferation of singles, tapes, eps and flexi-discs which were available with, or through the pages of, music papers.

Yes, younger readers, NME wasn’t always a freebie handed out in HMV. Once upon a time, it was the bible with the books of Record Mirror, Sounds, Melody Maker and even Smash Hits was half-decent. One such item was Adam and the Ants pastiche of the Village People, “A.N.T.S” released on a flexidisc, as well as The Jam’s “Pop Art Poem”.

You recall those flimsy plastic discs which required a coin to balance them out? It wasn’t random, they had a circle marked out where we had to place the money. I have it in mind it was 2p piece but I could be wrong. A random thought which distracts from the memories. A tangent and honestly, reading this back I find I’m about to drift off on another.

I stopped reading NME regularly some years ago; I can’t pinpoint a particular moment but I suspect that getting utterly fed up with commuting played a part in it, as well as one of my periodic disinterests in the current music scene. At those moments, I devour music’s rich past, feeling that I’ve gorged myself until I realise I haven’t even scratched the surface.

But finding the NME reduced to a flimsy rag, a pointless flyer in HMV a couple of years back, levied a feeling of desperation that I find hard to capture in words. Wednesday was the best day of the week; the new paper hit the stands, anticipated with such eagerness that I would arrive at Guildford station thirty minutes early to buy a copy to read with a cup of tea – not coffee – on the platform, ignoring the Portsmouth-bound trains which left before the last I could catch to the office.

I recall meeting one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met over a copy of the NME, deferring to her wishes to pick up a copy before I at the kiosk. Although to be fair, I’d forgotten that moment until now but I also recall the joy of finding the ads for various of my then-favourite bands at the Marquee, Astoria or Aylesbury Friars. Anywhere within the western half of the M25 was fair game.

Happy days which even a flaccid imitaion of the real thing can’t destroy.

Anyway, 1980 a fine and outstanding year for music. I have no idea how to pare this down to 50 songs but I did. Tomorrow, if I compiled it again, I dare say 20 of them would change. The other 30 would be by the Jam…

If the playlist doesn’t open in your Spotify client, click here to open in your browser.

Motörhead Ace of Spades
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Enola Gay
The Ruts Staring At the Rude Boys
Stevie Wonder Master Blaster (Jammin’)
The Clash The Magnificent Seven
The Damned Wait For The Blackout
The Cure A Forest
Secret Affair My World
The Vapors News At Ten
The Teardrop Explodes Treason
Siouxsie and the Banshees Christine
Bruce Springsteen The Ties That Bind
Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime
The Jam Dream Time
Dexys Midnight Runners There There My Dear
Ramones Baby, I Love You
The Police Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Pretenders Stop Your Sobbing
Adam & The Ants Antmusic
Hazel O’Connor Will You?
Joy Division Twenty Four Hours
The Rolling Stones Emotional Rescue
Echo & the Bunnymen Villiers Terrace
U2 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
Split Enz I Got You
UB40 Tyler
The Specials Do Nothing
Blondie Rapture
XTC Sgt Rock Is Going to Help Me
Visage Fade To Grey
The B-52’s Give Me Back My Man
Skids A Woman In Winter
Ultravox Vienna
The Professionals Mods Skins Punks
Thin Lizzy Killer On The Loose
The Piranhas Getting Beaten Up
The Jam That’s Entertainment
Splodgenessabounds Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps
Dead Kennedys Kill The Poor
Kate Bush Army Dreamers
Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart
Stiff Little Fingers Tin Soldiers
The Jam Going Underground
Echo & the Bunnymen Do It Clean
The Beat Mirror in the Bathroom
Skids Masquerade
Ian Dury & The Blockheads Sueperman’s Big Sister
The Chords Something’s Missing
Bob Marley & The Wailers Could You Be Loved
Diana Ross Upside Down
Joy Division Atmosphere
David Bowie Fashion
Magazine A Song From Under The Floorboards
Au Pairs Diet
The Jam Start!
Squeeze Another Nail In My Heart
Adam & The Ants Dog Eat Dog
Comsat Angels Independence Day
Bad Manners Here Comes The Major
The Jam Man In The Corner Shop
Elvis Costello & The Attractions High Fidelity
The Undertones My Perfect Cousin
The Durutti Column Sketch For A Summer
The Cure Killing An Arab
The Psychedelic Furs India
The Feelies Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me And My Monkey)
The Chords So Far Away
The Freshies I’m In Love With A Girl On A Certain Megastore Check-Out Desk
Stiff Little Fingers Back To Front
Pink Floyd Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
Blondie Atomic
The Spinners Working My Way Back to You
Odyssey Use It Up and Wear It Out
Peter Gabriel Biko
The Human League Being Boiled
Madness Embarrassment
The Fall New Face In Hell
The Specials Too Much Too Young
UB40 The Earth Dies Screaming
The Chords The British Way Of Life

2 thoughts on “Times Of Our Lives: 1980 – Choose Your NME

  1. What a great year. The year I started getting into music and brought my first 7in singles. Sgt. Rock was the first, quickly followed by Fade To Grey and then Ashes To Ashes I think. Magnificent. Thank you very much for doing this.


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