Saturday, 30 June 2012

Have You Heard The Word?

Like most music obsessed teenagers I was a reader of Smash Hits.  I was also a regular reader of Number One (Smash Hits competitor), Roy Of The Rovers and Shoot.
1985 saw the launch of a new music magazine, The Hit.  Primarily a music magazine, it did touch on other subjects such as football and fashion.  Styling itself as a music & lifestyle magazine, I bought it and enjoyed it, but after a couple of months I returned to the comfort of Smash Hits.

Time moves on and my reading gravitates towards the inkies (NME, Sounds & Melody Maker), and then the glossy monthly magazines, usually Select or Vox, before finally settling (sort of) on a changeable diet of Q, Mojo or Uncut (I'd buy one title for 6 months or so, get bored and buy another title)

Word Magazine was launched in 2003 and offered a fourth way.
Whilst I confess that I didn't buy the first issue (so therefore cannot claim to be "there from the start") I did buy a couple of issues interspersed with the Q/Mojo/Uncut shenanigans.

I first read through a copy in a dentists waiting room, and the content just spoke to me immediately.  It was covering stuff I was interested in, stuff I din;t really know about but might be interested in and stuff that I had no real interest in, but read anyway because it was so brilliantly written.
The Review section didn't employ a star rating, leaving the reader to make up their own mind based on the review they had just read (again, which was really well written).
It also helped that two of the writers in that particular issue were Stuart Maconie and David Quantick, and I would happily read anything written by either of these two

And so in July 2006, I settled on one publication as my monthly cultural digest.
I also signed up as a member of the Word Massive (the blog on the Word website - a thoroughly decent, informative and sometimes irrelevant place to spend an evening).
In the past few years I have been involved discussions on the subject of:
  • What Makes A Perfect Album?
  • The Top 10 Beatles Tracks
  • Fray Bentos Pies
  • How To Solve The Euro Crisis
  • Tommy Cooper Style Jokes

in short, name a subject and the chances are it is being discussed (or has been) on the pages of the website.

The website has provided recommendations for music, films and books that I would ordinarily not know about (names at chosen at random: Len Price 3, Robin Hitchcock, Mumford & Sons, Duckworth Lewis Method, The Imagined Village, First Aid Kit, Parts & Labor, the film Almost Famous.  And most recently I have been introduced to The Mahavishnu Orchestra (I didn't say I like them, I just know who they are and what they sound like now)

Two by-products of being a member of The Massive:
  1. Local Mingles - an evening spent in a pub with other members of the Massive talking about music, films, books, anything.  Sounds boring? No - it's a great way to spend an evening and walk away with a pile a CDs, DVDs and Books (If you go to a London Mingle (which I haven't done yet) you can also get cake.
  2. Writing rubbish and (sometimes) relevant comments on the Word website has given me the confidence to start this Blog.  So if your reading this and are saying to yourself "whats this dullard whittering on about now" you can blame The Word
Also, take a look at the Blogroll links to the right - many of these links go to Blogs of other members of The Massive - some I have met, some I haven't, but all are worthy of reading.

And then yesterday I was just settling down for my usual evening in front of the PC talking about nothing really, making a list of the Top 5 Episodes of On The Buses, and posting YouTube clips of long forgotten bands from Oxfordshire, when I read the announcement that the August issue of the magazine will be its last.
Looks like it's back to finding a suitably august publication to provide me with my monthly cultural sustenance.

Through its website, its events and its podcasts, I have really felt part of the magazine.  I felt a strange chest-puffing pride when I had a letter published in Issue 100, and even more happiness when my review Paul Weller's Sonik Kicks published in Issue 111 and on the website.

The coincidence of the personnel involved in both Smash Hits (when I was reading it) and The Word may be  purely accidental, but there must be something that David Hepworth & Mark Ellen know something about what I want to read about.
Indeed, I also used to regularly watch Whistle Test when they were presenting it.

So, a message of thanks to David & Mark (and all others at Development Hell) for providing me with a highly articulate and readable magazine; an outlet for thoughts, musings and discussions on music & other subjects via your website; the chance to sit in a pub with a bunch of strangers talking rubbish; and for generally feeling part of the whole magazine. 
As the slogan says: "The Word - a magazine, a website, a podcast, a way of life", and I for one will miss you when you're gone.

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