I come to this book as someone who loved the NME from about 1977 up until the early 1990s. Pat Long has done a very thorough job of detailing the paper's origins from, quite surprisingly, a paper about accordion music (apparently there was a massive accordion craze in the 1930s - who knew?) through to the digital age of www.nme.com.
Not surprisingly there is greatest focus on the paper's glory days of the 1970s when writers such as Mick Farren, Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent were almost as well known as the artists they wrote about, and when there was an appetite for in depth pieces on music and culture.
I came away from this book reminded at how much has changed in the way we listen to, read about, and relate to music since people first able to enjoy records in their homes in the mid-twentieth century. The fortunes of NME providing a great way for Pat Long to tell this wider story of changing tastes, and the impact of technology and changes in society.
Although the paper managed to reinvent itself at several key points in its history, and whilst Pat Long concludes by stating that he think the NME will still be around in 60 years, I came away with a feeling of sadness as it now seems clear that popular music is unlikely to ever again hold people in thrall in the same numbers as it did in the 70s, 80s and 90s and is now reduced to just another entertainment alternative trying to compete with computer games, DVDs, social media, and so on - a bit like the NME itself. The NME is still hanging on in there but who would really care if it was closed down tomorrow?
That said, this is a book that is worth reading for anyone who is interested in music, popular culture, and most especially for anyone who has ever felt an affinity with the NME.