NME Poll Winners 1952-1992 (Part One)

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that we’ve spent the last few weeks working through the history of the NME Polls, from 1952 to 1992. It’s a long and complicated history, and one that pretty much encapsulates the first forty years of modern popular music in the UK. So as a side-step, it’s worth taking a couple of posts to look at them, award by award.

With such a complex history, it’s hard to trace the winners of a particular category through time, so I’ve taken a few liberties here. Essentially anything that seems to be roughly the same category has been treated as the same thing. Also, for the year ranges, there are a few missing years here and there, so for instance 1967-1970 could mean anything between 2 and 3 wins, but it definitely isn’t 4, as we have no information for the poll results from 1969, or even any meaningful confirmation that the poll took place.

Best and Worst Single, Video and Album Categories

Here are all the winners for specific singles, videos, and albums, including the wonderful “Best Dressed Album” (later “Best Dressed Sleeve”) award.

Best British Disc / Single

  • 1959 – Cliff Richard – Living Doll
  • 1960 – The Shadows – Apache
  • 1961 – John Leyton – Johnny Remember Me
  • 1962 – Frank Ifield – I Remember You
  • 1963 – The Beatles – She Loves You
  • 1964 – The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun
  • 1965 – The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  • 1966 – The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
  • 1968 – The Beatles – Hey Jude
  • 1971 – Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime
  • 1972 – George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
  • 1973 – Golden Earring – Radar Love (World) & The Who – 5.15 (British)
  • 1975 – Bad Company – Can’t Get Enough
  • 1976 – Thin Lizzy – The Boys are Back in Town
  • 1977 – Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen
  • 1978 – The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
  • 1979 – The Specials – Gangsters
  • 1980 – The Jam – Going Underground
  • 1981 – The Specials – Ghost Town
  • 1982 – The Jam – Town Called Malice
  • 1983 – New Order – Blue Monday
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
  • 1985 – The Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
  • 1986 – The Smiths – Panic
  • 1987 – Prince – Sign O The Times
  • 1988 – The House of Love – Destroy the Heart
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses – Fool’s Gold
  • 1990 – The Charlatans – The Only One I Know
  • 1991 – Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • 1992 – Suede – The Drowners

Best Dance Record

  • 1982 – Wham! – Young Guns (Go for It)
  • 1986 – Cameo – Word Up
  • 1987 – M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up the Volume
  • 1989 – Happy Mondays – WFL

Worst Record

  • 1991 – Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (I Do It for You)
  • 1992 – The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Best Music Video

  • 1982 – Madness – House of Fun
  • 1983 – Michael Jackson – Thriller
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes
  • 1985 – Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

Best Long Player / Album

  • 1971 – The Beatles – Let it Be
  • 1972 – T. Rex – Electric Warrior & John Lennon – Imagine (tie)
  • 1973 – Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  • 1975 – Rod Stewart – Smiler
  • 1976 – Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same
  • 1977 – Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
  • 1978 – The Jam – All Mod Cons
  • 1979 – The Jam – Setting Sons
  • 1980 – The Jam – Sound Affects
  • 1981 – Echo and the Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
  • 1982 – The Jam – The Gift
  • 1983 – Elvis Costello – Punch the Clock
  • 1984 – Cocteau Twins – Treasure
  • 1985 – The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  • 1986 – The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
  • 1987 – The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
  • 1988 – R.E.M. – Green
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  • 1990 – Happy Mondays – Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches
  • 1991 – Primal Scream – Screamadelica
  • 1992 – R.E.M. – Automatic for the People

Best Dressed Album / Sleeve

  • 1973 – Yes – Yessongs
  • 1975 – Yes – Relayer
  • 1976 – Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same
  • 1978 – The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
  • 1980 – The Jam – Sound Affects
  • 1981 – Echo and the Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
  • 1982 – Siouxsie and the Banshees – A Kiss in the Dreamhouse
  • 1983 – New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome
  • 1985 – The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

Media Categories

The group of media awards, for radio, TV, films, and venues, are particularly fascinating, since other award ceremonies rarely have anything like this.

Best Disc Jockey

  • 1955-1957 – Jack Jackson
  • 1958-1959 – Pete Murray
  • 1960-1963 – David Jacobs
  • 1965-1972 – Jimmy Savile
  • 1973 – John Peel
  • 1975 – Noel Edmonds
  • 1976-1980 – John Peel

Best Music Radio Show

  • 1975-1976 – Alan Freeman
  • 1977-1992 – John Peel

Best TV Show

  • 1965-1972 – Top of the Pops
  • 1973-1977 – The Old Grey Whistle Test
  • 1978 – Revolver
  • 1979 – Fawlty Towers
  • 1980 – Not the Nine O’Clock News
  • 1981 – Coronation Street
  • 1982 – The Young Ones
  • 1983-1984 – The Tube
  • 1985 – The Old Grey Whistle Test
  • 1986 – The Singing Detective
  • 1987-1988 – Brookside
  • 1989 – Blackadder
  • 1990-1991 – Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out
  • 1992 – Have I Got News for You

Best Film

  • 1978 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • 1979 – Quadrophenia
  • 1980 – The Elephant Man
  • 1981 – Gregory’s Girl
  • 1982 – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1983 – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  • 1984 – Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • 1985 – Letter to Brezhnev
  • 1986 – Mona Lisa
  • 1987 – Angel Heart
  • 1988 – A Fish Called Wanda
  • 1989 – Dead Poets’ Society
  • 1990 – Wild at Heart
  • 1991 – The Silence of the Lambs
  • 1992 – Wayne’s World

Best Club / Venue

  • 1986 – Town and Country Club
  • 1989 – The Haçienda
  • 1990-1992 – Town and Country Club

Best Fashion Item

  • 1989 – Flares
  • 1990-1992 – Dr. Marten Boots

People Categories

In later years, the poll included some odd nominations for people, often outside of the world of music, which provide an interesting window on the past.

Most Wonderful Human Being

  • 1976-1977 – Johnny Rotten
  • 1978 – Sid Vicious
  • 1979 – John Peel
  • 1980-1983 – Paul Weller
  • 1984 – Arthur Scargill
  • 1985 – Bob Geldof
  • 1986-1988 – Morrissey

Klutz/Prat/Creep/Bastard of the Year

  • 1975 – Steve Harley
  • 1977 – Freddie Mercury
  • 1978 – John Travolta
  • 1979 – Gary Numan
  • 1980 – Margaret Thatcher
  • 1981 – Adam Ant
  • 1982-1989 – Margaret Thatcher
  • 1990-1991 – Saddam Hussein
  • 1992 – John Major

Best Dressed Male

  • 1979 – Gary Numan
  • 1980 – Adam Ant
  • 1981 – Michael Foot
  • 1982 – Paul Weller
  • 1983 – David Bowie
  • 1984 – Paul Weller
  • 1985 – Morrissey

Best Dressed Female

  • 1982-1983 – Siouxsie Sioux

Worst Dressed Person

  • 1985 – Bob Geldof

Most missed Dead Person

  • 1976 – Jimi Hendrix
  • 1981 – John Lennon

Political and Real World Categories

These are some of the oddest categories – I’m honestly not sure what the “Hype of the Year” category was all about, but it is interesting to see just what was catching people’s eyes at the time.

Event of the Year

  • 1977 – Death of Elvis Presley
  • 1980 – Death of John Lennon
  • 1982 – The Jam Split
  • 1986 – 1986 FIFA World Cup
  • 1987 – Nuclear Agreement
  • 1988 – Nelson Mandela’s Birthday Bash
  • 1989 – Revolution in Eastern Europe
  • 1990 – Margaret Thatcher’s Resignation
  • 1991 – The release of the hostages
  • 1992 – Bill Clinton winning the US election

Pin-Up/Sex SYmbol/Object of Desire

  • 1978 – Debbie Harry
  • 1986 – Joanne Whalley
  • 1988-1989 – Wendy James
  • 1990 – Betty Boo
  • 1991-1992 – Toni Halliday

Bad News of the Year

  • 1987 – Another Conservative Victory at the General Election
  • 1988 – US Election Result

Hype of the Year

  • 1985 – The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • 1989 – Batman
  • 1990 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • 1992 – Madonna – Sex

That concludes part one of the summary of NME Poll Winners. Next week, we’ll look at the artist categories.


Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Live in Your Living Room)

The last year or so has seen a lot of anniversaries for Jean-Michel Jarre, from his debut single La Cage / Erosmachine, which celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary last year, to Oxygène celebrating its fortieth, and its sequel celebrating its twentieth. Many of those have been celebrated here too.

A decade ago, for the thirtieth anniversary of the original release of Oxygène, Jarre went back and re-recorded the whole thing using exactly the same sounds and instrumentation, giving his lawyers a somewhat inevitable headache when his original record company decided to object. But more interesting than that is the DVD which accompanies the New Master Recording of Oxygène. Entitled Live in Your Living Room, it’s a fantastic live experience.

It opens with Prelude, a beautiful jam built around the sounds from Part I and Part II of Oxygène, which wanders along very pleasantly for just a touch over six minutes before passing the baton back to the first side of the original album. While the DVD’s sound quality is far from perfect, it’s a great and refreshing new way to relive an exceptional piece of music.

What I wouldn’t necessarily recommend is the 3D experience – there were four versions of the album when it came out: one free with a famously racist British newspaper; one as a single disc; then a double disc with the live DVD; and a separate double disc with the 3D version of the live DVD. At the time, the latter sounded pretty exotic, but as we now know after a decade or so of being forced to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters in 3D, there’s really very little special about them.

Broadly, these versions are similar enough to the originals, although Part II now has a stomping bass part. But it’s the Variations that really steal the show here – after Part III ends, rather than you having to get up and flip the record over to Side B, you’re treated instead to another gentle piece, rippling along with shades and echoes from the first three tracks. Variation I is really a rather wonderful surprise.

This broader take on the album is expanded out to a full hour, but side B opens, as it should, with Part IV, sounding quite fantastic, again with a large stomping bass part, before the surprising appearance of Variation II, initially sounding a bit like a precursor to Part VI. Much as I love the second and third Oxygène albums, it is perhaps a bit of a shame that the Variations have never yet made it onto a full album release.

After the longest track on the album Part V, we get the last of the new tracks, Variation III, which frankly is brilliant – definitely the best of the new interludes, and possibly even one of the best tracks on here. Honestly, it’s just a continuation of Part V, but whereas the original is long and pensive, this is energetic and beautiful.

All you need after all that is the serene Part VI, and you have an exceptional anniversary celebration – something that’s possibly actually better than the original. Maybe in a decade or so, he could celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Oxygène 7-13 with something similar?

This album is sadly no longer available – hopefully you can find a second-hand copy for a sensible price.

Chart for stowaways – 21 October 2017

Here are the week’s top albums:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Release
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
  4. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
  5. Kraftwerk – 3-D Der Katalog
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Yes
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
  8. a-ha – MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice
  9. Erasure – World Be Gone
  10. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye

NME Poll Winners – The 1990s

For the first half of the 1990s, the NME Poll continued as a quiet annual newspaper poll, focusing very strongly now on indie rock, and ignoring pretty much everything else that was going on in the world of music. But then, in 1994, it suddenly went public, relaunching an annual awards ceremony, The NME Brat Awards. More on that later, so for now, here are the last three years of poll results:

NME Readers’ Poll 1990

  • Best Single: The Charlatans, for The Only One I Know
  • Best LP: Happy Mondays, for Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches
  • Best New Band/Artist: The Charlatans
  • Best Band: Happy Mondays
  • Event of the Year: Margaret Thatcher‘s Resignation
  • Solo Artist: Morrissey
  • Radio Show: John Peel
  • TV Show: Vic Reeves‘ Big Night Out
  • Film of the Year: Wild at Heart
  • Club or Venue: Town and Country Club
  • Hype of the Year: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Fashion Item of the Year: DM Boots
  • Bastard of the Year: Saddam Hussein
  • Object of Desire: Betty Boo
  • Word/Phrase: ‘You wouldn’t let it lie!”

NME Readers’ Poll 1991

  • Best Band: R.E.M.
  • Best LP: Primal Scream, for Screamadelica
  • Best Single: Nirvana, for Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • Best New Band: Kingmaker
  • Best Venue: Town and Country Club
  • Best Solo Artist: Morrissey
  • Bastard of the Year: Saddam Hussein
  • Film of the Year: The Silence of the Lambs
  • Radio Show of the Year: John Peel
  • Fashion Item: DM Boots
  • Event of the Year: The release of the hostages
  • Object of Desire: Toni Halliday
  • TV Show: Vic Reeves‘ Big Night Out
  • Worst Record: Bryan Adams, for (Everything I Do) I Do It for You
  • Word/Phrase: “You fat bastard”

NME Readers’ Poll 1992

  • Best Band: R.E.M.
  • Best Album: R.E.M., for Automatic for the People
  • Solo Artist: Morrissey
  • Venue: Town and Country Club
  • Single: Suede, for The Drowners
  • Worst Record: The Shamen, for Ebeneezer Goode
  • New Band: Suede
  • Event: Bill Clinton winning the US election
  • Fashion Item: Dr. Martens
  • Bastard of the Year: John Major
  • Hype of the Year: Madonna, for Sex
  • TV Show of the Year: Have I Got News for You
  • Word/Phrase of the Year: “Not!”
  • Film of the Year: Wayne’s World
  • Radio Show of the Year: John Peel
  • Object of Desire: Toni Halliday

See also

Erasure – Rain Plus

The non-charting single is a strange phenomenon that only really appeared in the mid-1990s. Remixes were growing in number, and in the US, the response was to make singles last longer and longer, while the UK put stringent limits on the number and duration of tracks that could be included.

Erasure had toyed with the concept a couple of years earlier, with the German and Czech-only single Rock Me Gently, released as a six-track chart-ineligible import in the UK for fans. With the Cowboy album, I suspect they realised that their days of chart domination were over – In My Arms appeared in the classically quiet first week of January, and then outside of Germany, Rain only ever appeared as the eleven-track collection that we’re listening to today – Rain Plus, which was released twenty years ago this week.

Rain is a peculiarly British song though, obsessing about the weather and the effect it might have on one’s demeanour. For the single, Al Stone remixed it and made it punchier, and it surely deserved to be a decent hit.

It would be difficult to believe that Erasure had any idea what they would get with BBE‘s remix of Cowboy‘s lead single In My Arms. Far from being full-on dance, it’s a soft, slightly cheesy pop version which honestly sounds just like anything else on the charts at the time – even the drums take heavy inspiration from Atomic Kitten.

This is an odd collection to say the least, and so the b-side is Erasure‘s attempt at the theme for Star Trek: First Contact. Inspired (that’s an understatement) by Robert Miles, it’s a brilliant piece of dreamy trance that sounds absolutely nothing like anything Erasure ever did before or since. This might be a bold statement, but I think it’s also one of their finest moments.

The tracks on this release do appear to have been sequenced at random, as the next track is a live version of Rain, amusingly picked at random by an audience member at a concert in San Francisco. We then travel to Oxford for two more live tracks, Sometimes and Love to Hate You. All pretty good, although you have to wonder exactly how and why these tracks were picked (most likely is that they were considering three CDs – one with the original version and a couple of other tracks, then a remix CD and a three-track live CD).

Then we’re into the remixes, starting with Jon of the Pleased Wimmin‘s take on the single, a pleasantly beatsy remake full of arpeggios and drum fills. Then John “OO” Fleming turns up with a slightly inexplicable but admittedly catchy vocal trance version of Sometimes, which seems to have been slightly uncomfortably sped up, but is still rather enjoyable.

Someone else taking inspiration from Robert Miles is Dekkard, whose Vocal mix of In My Arms brings a number of elements together. The completely off-beat loop of the vocal sample doesn’t really work, but in some ways this version has actually aged better than the previous ones. Commissioned for the US release of In My Arms earlier in the year, but then spurned in favour of some dreadful house mixes, it finally found its place on this slightly strange but enjoyable compilation single.

Erasure have never really done deep house, but I think the closest they come is with Blue Amazon‘s Twisted Circles remix of Rain, clocking in at just a touch under thirteen minutes in duration. It’s good, and takes influence from a lot of different places, but you have to wonder whether it got played much in clubs at the time. This lengthy excursion closes the single.

According to the track listing, anyway. There’s actually an instrumental version of First Contact hiding at the end, so you get to enjoy it all over again in its entirety, for no particularly obvious reason other than that it’s good.

Which is a reasonable summary of this single, actually. There’s no particular reason for it to exist, apart from a whole load of decent unreleased remixes and oddities lying around at the end of an album. So why not just throw them all together and call it a special “plus” single? I’m not sure I fully understand, but it’s a pretty good collection anyway – especially if you’re a completist.

The original Rain Plus single seems to have fallen out of print at some stage in the last two decades, but you should be able to find a second-hand copy if you poke around.

Preview – a-ha

I’m not exactly sure to what degree the world was crying out for an a-ha unplugged album, but they got one, and by the sounds of things it might actually be pretty good. Summer Solstice was released a couple of weeks ago, and here’s The Living Daylights.

Chart for stowaways – 7 October 2017

Here are the week’s top singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Reunion
  2. Erasure – Love You To The Sky
  3. Kraftwerk – Trans Europa Express
  4. Kraftwerk – Computerliebe
  5. Depeche Mode – Going Backwards
  6. Saint Etienne – Magpie Eyes
  7. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  8. Pet Shop Boys – I’m with Stupid
  9. David Bowie – Heroes
  10. Massive Attack – Ritual Spirit EP