Welcome To The Meeting, Everybody…

by richardflohil on 18/06/2015

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

Hello. My name is Richard.

I’m in trouble. And I need help.

My problem is costing me my sanity, it’s taking too much time from my life that I can’t afford. And it’s ruining me financially. And I am helpless. 

I am hopelessly, helplessly, fascinated by British music magazines.

They are everywhere on the bigger newsstands in Canada’s biggest cities. Check them out:Q. Mojo. Word. Uncut. Record Collector. fRoots. Classic Rock. NME. Maverick.

And they cost, with taxes, $16.00 or $17.00 each. Every month. I can’t give them up. I can’t afford them. I don’t have the time to read them. Ad I buy them all the time. Even worse, I keep them. In piles around my house. Under my desk. Worse, under the bed.

I am an addict.

It started when I was 15, back in England. It was a tabloid newspaper called The Melody Maker. Full of little stories about dance bands, and who’d been replaced in which group, and which jazz bands had broken up, and reformed, and broken up again.  Then along came another one, called the New Musical Express. Same sort of thing, but talking about rock music, rather than crooners and square bands. But they were cheap. Maybe sixpence a week. Even a pitifully paid boy reporter could afford that.

Today? Well, just look around.

My downfall was Q. I started with issue #5 in February 1987, when it called itself “The modern guide to music and more” and I finally gave up 10 years later when what now called itself ”The world’s greatest music magazine” ran The Prodigy (who they?) on the cover.

My waning interest in Q was replaced by Mojo, which began in November 1993 with two standby artists on the cover, Dylan and Lennon. Cleaner layout, stories on artists I liked (and knew something about). Same publishers as Q, who obviously felt that the older part of their demographic still loved music, but were — like myself — being left behind.  And guess who was on the cover of the second issue? k.d. lang, no less. I was hooked.

And Mojo did the trick, until Word came along. By far the least-known of the three, Wordbegan in March 2003, and — initially, at least — covered film, theatre and books, as well as music. Better still, it was — and still is — edited by Mark Ellen, who was Q’s first editor, and then managing editor of Mojo.


All thee magazines share things in common. The first is a summer bramble-bush-dry British sense of humour. Secondly, they like to have neat “regular” stuff — Word’s last page is a collection of outlandish facts, one of which is incorrect. Guess which?  Mojo runs a feature called “Hello Goodbye,” about how the musician of the month joined a band, and later got fired.

And, of course, all three come to your newsstand with a CD attached to the cover by a mucous glue substance (called “snot” in the printing trade, apparently).  These CDs are strange mix of indie artists from all over, most of whom you’ve never heard of. Mojo,however, likes to have themes for its CDs — if Robert Plant is on the cover (and he frequently is) the CD will be of Plant-related music of variable quality.


Finally, a magazine you might not have heard about: Record Collector.

I’ve got 6,000 records and CDs in my living room, even though I sold about a third of my collection earlier this year. I miss them every day, even though I never played most of them. So here comes Record Collector’s December issue. “200 RAREST RECORDS OF ALL TIME” screams the cover. OK. That’ll be $12.50, plus 13% HST.

And, apparently, the rarest record is worth 150,000 quid, and it’s a private pressing of two songs by the Quarrymen, who later went on to become famous.

This is, of course, proof that this magazine’s for nutters! People like me, ready (but unable) to pay $325.00 for a 19-CD box set of everything that Sandy Denny ever recorded (plus a promo poster, a discography, a 1974 press kit, and a notebook of her handwritten lyrics). Or folk who want four CDs in a box called Status Quo Live at the BBC. Only $125.00.

Oh, and there are 21 pages of record reviews, not to mention 14 pages of lists — set in 6 pt. type — of records wanted and records for sale. Record Collector doesn’t have a cover-mounted CD, but a pocket magnifying glass would be useful.


So, people, I need help. This lot costs me about $70 a month. That’s getting horridly close to a grand a year. My children aren’t getting the Christmas presents they deserve. I’ve seriously cut back on my weed intake. I don’t go out as much as I’d like.

My wife would be mad if she knew — but her addiction, now cured, was collecting cooking magazines.

Now, can you people help me?


Oh, go on – you need to know more:








Backstage at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto, December 1981

Goldie Powell, where are you?  Goldie, when I knew him, was a highly accomplished roadie. He could move speaker stacks, amps, drum risers and all sorts of other gear without effort. He was six foot tall, had a bit of potbelly; a Scarborough kid with long stringy blonde hair, and a ready grin.

The attraction tonight is Miles Davis. The show is sold out, and promoter Rob Bennett— never completely happy with a show, even when the artist is easy to deal with — is pacing in the green room at the O’Keefe Centre. Davis, taciturn and grim, says little; his wife at the time, Cicely Tyson, is cheerful, friendly, talkative, and wanders around dragging a $20,000 fur coat behind her.

And here comes Goldie, carrying an 8X10 publicity photograph of tonight’s star. “Would you please sign this for me?” he asks Davis — a request that’s roughly akin to asking Queen Elizabeth for an autograph on an unspecified legal document.

Davis doesn’t look up, grabs a Sharpie from his wife, and draws a trumpet, and then signs, the photograph. Goldie backs out of the room, effusive in his gratitude. “Thank you, thank you so much,” he says. “Thank you, thank you….”

And Davis, in the throaty rasp that passed for his speaking voice, glanced up, and turned to his wife, as Goldie was at the green room door.

“I thought that was some ugly white broad,” he said.

And, at future shows, we always asked whether the ugly white broad was on our team. It was always cool when he was.



Recently, in the middle of a pre-holiday depression, I asked:

“Will someone please explain the origin of the dubious phrase “our record drops next week.” DROPS? WTF does that mean? Well, it’s a dumb word, in this context, that means the record’s been released, or issued, or made available. But what lame-brain was the first to use that word “drops:” in that context???

The answers:

Singer-songwriter Jory Nash suggested: “My guess is that it has its roots in some old record players, where the record ‘dropped’ to the playing surface. Also, the term “drop the needle” (again, with reference to the record player) showed up in hip hop lyrics as far back as Maestro Fresh Wes, and in this context it makes some sense to use the verb ‘drop’ with reference to a recording release.”

Another suggestion came from Terry Fernihough: “I always thought it was a strange shortening of the term ‘drop ship’, which was used to describe the practice of a new record (or book) being released everywhere the same day.”

And singer Heather Morgan came up with “I think it’s pseudo ‘street speak’. The only place I ever originally used to hear that phrase was in the Hip Hop world. If you aren’t urban, or you aren’t using it ironically, I, too, find it irritating.”

The final word came from another independent artist, Luke Jackson, who wrote: “When something is dropped it usually lands somewhere, right? Not so a new album…it drops into the abyss, much like an artist being dropped by a record label.”




Since I mentioned Luke Jackson’s name … a terrific video and a damn good song that any ex-Brit can relate to.  “Goodbye London,” and I still miss the place…



Kathleen Edwards, live at the my favourite bar, the Dakota in Toronto, with my friendsThe Good Lovelies…



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