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Monday, July 25, 2011

Quite a Roll -- The New Musical Express

The New Musical Express (better known as the NME) is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It began as a newspaper and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 80s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles chart, in the November 14 1952 edition. In the 1970s it became the best-selling British music newspaper.

The NME Awards is an annual music awards show in the United Kingdom, founded by the music magazine. It features artists voted as most popular by the paper's readers. The awards began as the NME Poll Winners Concert and awards ceremonies in 1952/1953.

During the 1960s the paper championed the new British groups emerging at the time. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were frequently featured on the front cover. These and other artists also appeared at the NME Poll Winners Concert.

The concert also featured the awards ceremony where the poll winners would collect their awards. Venues included the Royal Albert Hall, Olympia and the Empire Pool Wembley. From 1964 onwards they were filmed, edited and then transmitted on British television a few weeks after they had taken place.

A look at these historic concert recordings from 1964-1966 is a wonderful, first-hand rock music experience. To view these legendary performers in their early early years is to breathe the essence of the bands that launched the British Invasion. Great vitality and drive punctuate each live musical execution. These NME Poll Winners Concerts capture the spirit of the rise of the rock band. They offer a rare, raw look of many legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists.

One of the observations I made while watching the NME concerts was the power of simple, straightforward rock songs. Many songs were covers of American rock hits, R&B recordings, and blues songs -- "Not Fade Away," "Twist and Shout," "Boom, Boom, Boom," "Hey, Bo Diddley"-- performed with genuine joy.

The music, unclouded by production and seething with rhythm, was upfront and hot. The bands put their personal "group" stamp on each tune, whether it was a cover or an original. The result was infectious. The  "fever" spread to the audience, and they loved it. 

If this is your first view of British '60s rock in action, you will find the NME concerts are great places for discovery. And, if you want to relive memories of the Invasion, the NME concerts will surely accommodate your wishes. What a time! What music! What simple revelry!

Here are some NME bands (1964-1966). Enjoy the post.

The Beatles

The Rolling Stones

The Kinks

The Yardbirds

The Animals

Manfred Mann

The Moody Blues

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