Twenty years ago--if not to the day, then very nearly--I received my first paid byline. Not
exactly a grand entrance onto the global stage of rock criticism: a downpage album review, for Melody Maker, twinning releases by Midnight Music luminaries Snake Corps and Sudden Afternoon, both of whom got dispatched with some brutality. Funnily enough, these groups and the next two reviewed (an outfit called Direct Action who were into early-Scritti/Desperate Bicycles-style demystification/cultural democracy/anti-stardom, and had pulled together a various artists comps where none of the artists were actually named, "to avoid egotism"; Peel-circa-1979 favorite Morgan Fisher with a solo album on Cherry Red) involved me castigating what were essentially stragglers from the postpunk era. Soon I was shuttling across London to gigs by The Redskins and The June Brides (both with their own ideological and sonic connections to postpunk), where I'd dissect their failings, master the art of scrawling legibly in a notepad without drawing attention to oneself, and avoid the bar on account of barely having two shillings to rub together. Yes it was a non-glamorous lifestyle early on (in those last two months of 1985 I would have been still on the dole, waiting for my first Lambeth Borough cheque to arrive, sleeping on a horsehair, weird-bumpy couch in my friends' living room in West Norwood) , while music at that point (and indeed most of 1986) seemed at a low ebb, with few rave-worthy opportunities presenting themselves for the making of one's name through audaciously ardent and rashly extravagant claims. But from such humble beginnings do etc etc etc.