As a child of the late 80’s & 90’s I used to read NME. And in NME there were many writers – from the wispy and fey Everett True (just like his beard) and the funnily bizarre yet removed David Quantick there was only one writer, Steven Wells.
Sadly Swells (aka Susan Williams and Seething Wells at various points) died a few days ago of cancer aged 49…he enraged and irritated people as much as made them laugh and think, being from a Marxist left and red skin persuasion, but was usually right, exposing homophobia and racism as much as swearing and WRITING IN CAPITALS!!!! writing about music, sports and generally winding up liberal Grauniad readers and indie-fey students and Radiohead fans which is A GOOD THING.
You can read his last column for Philadelphia Weekly here – as well as checking out the last line (he must be cacking himself, wherever he is over the Jackson thing – not that he is cos he didn’t believe in that complete codswallop, quite rightly too) check out the comments which are from many journos and writers from his history, it’s very moving.
Two things that have come up though:
1) James Brown you useless FUCK. No interest in music? Utter bullshit you useless toerag-piece-of-shit. It’s obvious from reading more than his name that Swells he loved music, just hated musicians and those who wanked over them without thinking about it. He loved the music that was against the grain, POP music or just damn unloved. Very like Peel in this respect, unlike Peel who lovingly bumbled about it, Swells was happy to get into verbal fisticuffs about it COS IT MATTERED.
2) Mikerichi you are a utter cuntmare, you snivelling shit. Yes let’s flag up Swells Wikipedia entry for deletion as ‘Recent death does not establish notability.’ -I wonder if your recent death will establish YOUR notoriety? Let’s find out shall we, with the anal application of a large FUCK OFF chainsaw. Swells would’ve liked that, you fucking ponce. Really I think Wikipedia has a real problem, these devolved excuses for humanity who patrol Wikipedia like some SS Nazi compound, they’ve terrorised people who WERE ACTUALLY THERE AND HAVE LIVES and have actually done shit. What have they done apart from sit at a computer getting fat and spotty, FFS? Wikitrolls, Fuck OFF.
Yes let’s remember Swells with ANGER and RAGE and kicking the shit out of these people for a start, none of this liberal panty-waist ‘oh he was a good bloke’ crap. Yes he was, that was blatantly obvious if you looked past the swearing and the music at the politics and what he stood for. He FUCKING CARED. Unlike most of the sad excuses for music journalism who are all about ‘managing their brand‘, FFS.
Ones that lest we not forget, operated a colour bar for many years on anything other than pasty-white dishevelled sub-teens on their cover (yes NME did that, saying their audience was racist, or didn’t like buying those issues. Well then DO something about it, you cunts. Rock Against Racism? Remember that? Oh you only create ‘specials’ for it now, but don’t really want to actually push against the insipid racism and homophobia inside the music industry, only from a limp middleclass liberal stance from the VIP area) and age bars – they won’t usually cover new bands over 23, and only established ones over that age – hence unless you are Kele from Bloc Party (one of the few exceptions) or that bloke from Flaming Lips, you are completely fucked.
So what killed the NME for me and many people was this idea that you have a brand director, you have a TV station, you have gigs, but no real idea for what the paper stood for anymore, at least until they saw $$$ signs in Rock Against Racism mk2 ‘Love Music Hate Racism’ – but even back in the day they were more the problem rather than the solution, and even more so now.
So I salute you Steven Wells, and those punks and ex-punks and people who actually gave a fuck about more than music, and understood music could say and mean much more than ‘Shoobydoolanglang’.
You’re a dying breed, as music becomes just another ‘pathway’ and soundtrack to video games and inane mobile commercials, which is why it’s sad when we lose someone like this, who always ranted at the dying of the light, kept it real like Peel, like Hicks never sold out, unlike some of his contemporaries who now litter the sad pathetic excuses for digital TV and radio stations. I raise a drink to you, Swells.