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The History Of Rock 1983

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Welcome to 1983...

David Bowie has decided to stop experimenting. After a dozen years of unpredictable musical strategy, his every move giving rise to – as he has himself put it – “whole schools of pretension”, he has returned, effectively, to earth. Perhaps even gone back in time a little.

That’s the impression this month’s cover star gives when he convenes a press conference to announce his forthcoming live dates. Fatherhood, listening to jazz, new experiences in Australia…it’s all left him with an urge to have his music connect with people in a less intellectual fashion, to speak more from the heart. His new music now nods to soul and R&B.

It’s a noble plan, and one in which Bowie, even if he is ahead of the curve, is not alone. This year, the likes of Paul Weller, U2, Black Flag, Fela Kuti, REM and The Smiths – strange bedfellows otherwise – are all united by a sense of mission, even manifesto in their music. Or as Henry Rollins from Black Flag puts it: “Putting your ass on the line for a bunch of people you don’t even know”.

Their talk is of revelation, personal truth and winning converts, and both Bowie and the enduring Curtis Mayfield, a star for the past 25 years, imply how it all might be achieved with a certain grace. Not that life skating on the surface is all bad. In their different ways, New Order, Duran Duran, Eurythmics and Frankie Goes To Hollywood all show how it might be done while having fun.

This is the world of The History Of Rock, a monthly magazine which follows each turn of the rock revolution. Whether in sleazy dive or huge arena, passionate and increasingly stylish contemporary reporters were there to chronicle events. This publication reaps the benefits of their understanding for the reader decades later, one year at a time. Missed one? You can find out how to rectify that on page 144.

In the pages of this eighteenth edition, dedicated to 1983, you will find verbatim articles from frontline staffers, filed from the thick of the action, wherever that may be.

Perhaps Nick Cave’s sick bed on a sofa in the TV room. It might mean talking gangs with Afrika Bambaata or drink with Shane MacGowan. Even sharing a stately, old- world joke with David Bowie.

“You’re part Swiss?” he enquires of an NME writer. “Which part?”