[Dixielandjazz] The Melody Maker

TBW504 at aol.com TBW504 at aol.com
Mon Dec 29 06:32:40 PST 2003

A few remarks regarding the MM from "The Song for Me" -
In January 1927 the Melody Maker in Britain published a review of "The Chant" 
/ "Black Bottom Stomp" by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers on HMV 
B5164 which contained these imperishable remarks: A band of which I have not 
hitherto heard called Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers is introduced to 
us in "The Chant" and Black-bottom Stomp", both hot Charleston numbers. No one 
can say that the musicians are not wonderful performers. Nevertheless, we are 
treated to an exhibition of blues and jazz, not as it is today, but as it was 
six years ago. The fact that this is about the best record to have come 
across for Charleston dancing, owing to the hot rhythm behind it, certainly does 
excuse the fact that it is crude in organization and poor amusement to listen 
to." Although the MM employed a number of recognised authorities on dance music 
it always retained a somewhat blinkered attitude to jazz as we know it. To a 
certain extent it can be excused as a British publication thousands of miles 
away from its source material, and without the technological advantages in 
communication of today. In the late-1940s there was a unfavourable review of a 
classic King Oliver Creoles release (I think it was "Mabel's Dream" / "Riverside 
Blues") that echoed the vacuous nonsense their 1927 effusion regarding JRM. The 
Melody Maker, founded in the mid-1920s, finally folded in December after 
later years of limping behind its upstart rival from the mid-1950s, the New 
Musical Express. At its height the MM sold around a quarter of a million copies 
weekly and far eclipsed the then Musical Express. Although the MM was principally 
aimed at dance band musicians and their followers it did provide the only 
regular service for jazz enthusiasts with gig listings and record reviews however 
flawed. When the ME was relaunched as the NME , aimed at the growing youth 
market with purchasing power and a taste for rock and roll, the decline of the MM 
became one of the longest death rattles in history.

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