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Rip It Up and Start Again is the first book-length exploration of the wildly adventurous music created in the years after punk. Renowned music journalist Simon Reynolds celebrates the futurist spirit of such bands as Joy Division, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, and Devo, which resulted in endless innovations in music, lyrics, performance, and style and continued into the earRip It Up and Start Again is the first book-length exploration of the wildly adventurous music created in the years after punk. Renowned music journalist Simon Reynolds celebrates the futurist spirit of such bands as Joy Division, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, and Devo, which resulted in endless innovations in music, lyrics, performance, and style and continued into the early eighties with the video-savvy synth-pop of groups such as Human League, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell, whose success coincided with the rise of MTV. Full of insight and anecdotes and populated by charismatic characters, Rip It Up and Start Again re-creates the idealism, urgency, and excitement of one of the most important and challenging periods in the history of popular music....

Title : Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
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ISBN : 9780143036722
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 Reviews

  • Orsodimondo
    2019-01-18 20:09

    DAMAGE GOODS Penso all’idea del rock come forza in grado di cambiare almeno la coscienza del singolo ascoltatore…Il post-punk è stato l’ultimo grande periodo in cui c’è stata una forte ondata di innovazione che riguardasse insieme musica, testi, performance e anche il ruolo generale della musica .Era il tempo dei vinili, e di altri supporti, ma tutti rispettavano la durata di un album. Prima che questa meravigliosa creatura sparisse nel maelstrom dello streaming digitale.Reynolds appare l’uomo giusto al posto giusto: sa di cosa parla e sa come parlarne. Con passione e competenza, senza dimenticare il benedetto contesto, e cioè il resto, quello che accadeva prima e dopo, intorno – la musica, le band sono ben inserite sia nella storia della musica che nella Storia in generale.Tanto più che a casa sua erano gli anni dell’orrida Margaret primo ministro.Johnny ‘Rotten’ Lydon con i Sex Pistols. Il rock'n'roll è la forma espressiva più schifosa, volgare e malefica, è un afrodisiaco pestilenziale, è la musica preferita da tutti i delinquenti della terra, disse Frank Sinatra nel 1957. La prima risposta potrebbe essere quella dei Jefferson Airplane in "We Can Be Together”: Siamo osceni, senza legge, brutti, pericolosi, violenti e giovani del 1969. Alla quale farei seguire questa di qualche anno dopo, 1976, proprio di John Lydon in "Anarchy in The U.k.": I am an anti-christ, I am an anarchistIl post-punk prende l’avvio come reazione agli eccessi del rock, dal fastidio verso il ‘rockismo’. Voglia di cambiare, di opporsi, di sperimentare e di ricominciare da capo, di essere intellettuale avanguardistico o amatoriale come un dilettante (A volte scrivo cose che non riesco a capire, è questo che mi esalta). Voglia di offendere, a cominciare dalla generazione dei padri (vedi per esempio il diffuso ricorso a immagini e riferimenti nazisti, per provocare la generazione che il nazismo aveva conosciuto e imparato a temere). Il punk era troppo primitivo, troppo stradaiolo. E allora via alla sperimentazione sonora attraverso elettronica, rumore (noise), dub, disco, synth…Talking Heads, Human League, Pere Ubu, Pop Group, Scritti Politti, Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, New Order, This Heat, Nick Cave e Birthday Party, PIL, Devo, Residents, Fall, XTC, Cabaret Voltaire, Slits, Gang of Four…Il messia fu forse Johnny ‘Rotten’ Lydon, sutura e rottura tra punk e post-punk con i Sex Pistols prima e i PIL poi. Ma quello che rimane più inciso nella memoria è Ian Curtis, suicida a 24 anni dopo aver inciso due pietre miliari (“Unknown Pleasures”, 1979, e “Closer”, 1980)Johnny Lydon con i PIL, Public Image Limited.Ho ascoltato e riascoltato, scoperto e rinfrescato tanta musica leggendo questo libro bello lungo fitto e importante dove si parla di rock, punk, trip-hop, hip-hop, elettronica, jazz, pop, dance, funk ecc. ma più di tutto, si parla di post-punk, sempre sia lode ai Joy Division.La musica oggi non è più quel veicolo di identità e liberazione che ha forgiato più di una generazione. Amore per la musica e formazione della propria identità non vanno più di pari passo, l’ascolto è diventato eclettico, i gusti sono ‘un po’ di tutto’. Con lo streaming la musica è diventata una fornitura continua, come il gas e l’elettricità, come la televisione. È qualcosa da usare più che qualcosa che chiede il coinvolgimento. Non è più la musica a essere elemento aggregativo, a creare un senso di comunità. Più facile che adesso succeda per gli abiti o certe forme di tecnologia. La musica è retrocessa, battuta dalla concorrenza di altre forme di intrattenimento e di creatività artigianale (videogiochi, youtube…). La musica non conosce più barriere artistiche perché ha superato i generi. Il che da una parte è un bene, ma dove sono finiti brivido e stupore di quando erano gli artisti a superare le barriere? L’ascolto musicale adesso è una poltiglia indifferenziata, dove sono finite l’avventura e la scoperta generate dall’esplorare i generi musicali? Finita l’epoca in cui la musica era iniziazione. Finiti i tempi dei mods contro i rockers, le tribù non esistono più, l’identità non conta, siamo ormai nell’epoca dell’appartenenza. Amen.L’amore ci farà a pezzi: Ian Curtis, leader dei Joy Division. 15.7.1956-18.5.1980. A Ian Curtis è dedicato il bel documentario di Anton Corbijn del 2007, ‘Control’.“When routine bites hard,And ambitions are low,And resentment rides high,But emotions won’t grow,And we’re changing our ways, taking different roads.Then love, love will tear us apart again.”(Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division)

  • Brandon
    2019-01-12 17:22

    Here is a band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Those bands were amazing. There have been no good bands since.

  • David
    2018-12-27 15:06

    The standard narrative of the pop music history of the late 70’s and early 80’s has the bracing musical revolution of punk quickly degenerating into the more commercial and co-optable form of New Wave. Punk is the honest, authentic voice of political and aesthetic revolution, while New Wave is the watered down, corrupted, commercialized version of that impulse. Now there’s a grain of truth to this interpretation, but it misses a few things about punk that were quickly to drive it into an aesthetic dead-end, and it downplays the real virtues of much of the music that followed in its wake. Musically, punk wasn’t anything other than good old guitar-driven rock and roll played louder and faster and with a more aggressive, anti-social, overtly political attitude. Basically it layered a new set of attitudes and fashion statements over an already well-established musical form. Not only that, in a lot of ways it was simply updating and recycling traditional rock poses—macho cock rockers, the rock musician as revolutionary, with the model for revolution being the armed guerilla or street fighter. And punk’s politics—its populism and fetishization of authenticity—worked against musical innovation. One aspect of the founding myth of punk was that it was a cleansing force, washing away the excesses of the bloated, decadent, self-important pop music establishment of the 70’s. Consequently musical innovation and experimentation were suspect. Reynolds takes postpunk out of the shadow of punk rock and presents it as a genre in its own right, distinct it from both punk and New Wave. He shows how little postpunk owed to punk, and how much it owed to other genres (the art rock and experimental music of the 70’s, Reggae and dub, funk) and other cultural and intellectual influences (post-60’s collectivist and communal values, postmodern social and aesthetic theory of the late 70’s and early 80’s). Postpunk was a much less ideologically hidebound, much more sonically adventurous musical form than the punk rock that preceded it. About all it inherited from punk was attitude and energy. Reynolds dates postpunk from 1978-1984, and the book is divided into two parts. The first part, from roughly 78-80ish, recounts the emergence of postpunk, and focuses on the dour, arty, experimental, socially conscious bands that most music nerds associate with postpunk—Gang of Four, The Fall, early Scritti Politti, PIL, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu etc. The second half, on new pop and new rock, follows the evolution of postpunk into the mid-eighties and focuses on the more accessible, commercial, radio-and-dancefloor-friendly turn the genre took in the early 80’s. Some bands make appearances in both sections, most notably Scritti Politti, who were one of the more uncompromising bands of postpunk’s early years, but who later made a conscious decision to record more listener-friendly stuff in order to infiltrate the mainstream. Other bands covered in the second half include: the Specials and other two-tone and ska revival bands, Malcolm McLaren projects like Bow Wow Wow and Adam and the Antz, arty synthpoppers like Gary Numan and Ultravox, NYC Mutant Disco groups, Progressive Punk bands like Black Flag, The Minutemen, and Mission of Burma etc. Reynolds does a fine job of connecting the music to the larger cultural, intellectual and political contexts from which it emerged. Postpunk was born along with Thatcherism in the UK. It also coincided with the rise of postmodernism and critical theory in the universities. It likewise coexisted, in the UK, with a strong tradition of communist and socialist-friendly left-wing politics. There was a bit of this in the US as well, especially in the Reagan 80’s, with bands like The Minutemen proselytizing for the Central American solidarity movement (D. Boon often worked the crowd for CISPES after many Minutemen shows). And, there were certainly strong residues of 60’s and 70’s collectivist, counter-culture politics within postpunk—Factory Records and Rough Trade most notably. And while most pop artists certainly try to manage their careers, and think hard about their self-presentation, the art school refugees and brainy autodidacts who made up the first wave of postpunk were a particularly self-reflective bunch. It would be wrong to describe the music as un-commercial, or to portray the musicians and artists as completely unconcerned with popularity or commercial success, but there was a definite sense of existing to negate the corporate hit-making machinery and the ideology of 70’s corporate rock and pop, at least until New Pop came along and rebelled against postpunk rebellion by emulating the most listener-friendly, anti-rockist pop forms.There’s always a danger in any social-intellectual history of the pop arts of inflating the art form’s significance simply by virtue of placing it within a well-developed reconstruction of the cultural milieu in which it emerged (on the other hand, the mistake many highbrow critics make—are there any of them left?—is to avoid looking beyond the shiny surfaces to the more serious elements embedded in pop art forms). There may be some pop songs, genres, movements about which there really isn’t much of interest to say—bands and scenes that don’t merit more than a glib one-paragraph squib in a music magazine, and that don’t connect to larger trends and issues or ideas in any kind of interesting way. But as Reynolds shows this is certainly not the case with postpunk. One could argue that Reynolds is too much of a fan, and that he overpraises much of the music—as the Vanity Fair critic tapped to review the book for the New York Times did, though it’s hard to take such criticism seriously from someone who writes for what’s essentially a middlebrow version of People—but to me he gets it absolutely right 95% of the time. He convincingly makes the case that, despite the preeminent place punk has occupied in rock-crit mythology, postpunk was by far a more interesting and influential movement—sonically, intellectually and politically. Reynolds comes to praise, rather than bury, postpunk, but his fanboy’s enthusiasm is balanced by a 40-year-old’s sense of how sophomoric much of the politics were and how crappy, ultimately, a lot of the music was, in traditional musical terms. But this is balanced by an admiration for the creativity and idealism of the various scenes, the sense of mission, willingness to experiment, and to bend musical tastes to the bands‘ will rather than simply playing what was popular in order to be rock stars, that characterized much of postpunk. And while he spends almost 600 pages lovingly reconstructing the scene and it’s influences and musical products, he doesn’t make much of an argument for its larger significance outside of the world of pop music. He never loses sight of the fact that the end product, even of the more uncompromising or abrasive variants—like Gang of Four, Throbbing Gristle, Crass, The Minutemen etc.—was one form or another of pop music. I’m not sure how to say this exactly, but the idea, the concept of pop—as something youth-oriented, playful, ephemeral, disposable, commercial, popular, relatively undemanding, not meant to last—is the reality check that keeps Reynolds from overpraising the music. Reynolds, shows how the world shaped the music, but thankfully stops short of arguing that the music changed the world.

  • Paul
    2019-01-11 13:07

    Warning: do not read this book unless you have ready access to Spotify or some other music subscription service that allows you to listen to entire albums without purchasing them, or else you will go bankrupt trying to catch up with the Fall, James Chance and the Contortions, the Associates and a hundred other bands with which you were vaguely familiar but suddenly find fascinating thanks to Simon Reynolds' writing. This is the best work of music history, and one of the best history books, I have ever read. Reynolds is more critic than fan but more fan than sycophant, which makes his examination of what we now call "alternative" music from 1977-1984 both exuberant and objective. He also does an excellent job of evoking the milieus in which various postpunk genres arose -- now I know exactly why Manchester has so much to answer for. Reynolds takes his job as a historian seriously, so when he writes about a band, he describes both its intent and its impact, noting the occasional chasm between the two. His biographical sketches of the artists whom he covers are detailed but brisk and just gossipy enough to be amusing if not horrifying (I'm now convinced that Malcolm McLaren should have been arrested and tried in the Hague for crimes against humanity). If the book has any flaw, it's that Reynolds occasionally overstuffs his chapters with too many references and anecdotes, leaving the reader more interested than informed, and towards the end of the book, he covers some yawn-inducingly familiar territory like the rise of MTV, but even then he's insightful and doesn't lapse into standard cultural critiques even as he quotes people who do. If you care about any late 70s or early 80s music beyond Styx or the Commodores, this book is a must.

  • Tracy Reilly
    2018-12-30 13:06

    So, this book probably was written for me. Those are my years, this is my music. I was a bit surprised at how differently this was written from the usual rock journalism stuff,usually full of that overly cute jargon, with the writer's personality in flamboyant display. Well in a monthly, vying for the short attention span of the audience, this is perhaps a necessary evil. Seminal!!!This book, however, is presented in a less frenzied, leisurely pace. It tends to look at niches of time and place, analyzes what created them on a cultural level--including politics, the socio-economic and educational bent of the given town, how one artist/musician/philosopher, or a group may have started a fire, spread it to the locals, created offshoots or clones, mutated, moved, added new interests, new people, new instruments. Reynolds seems to have special insight into the Northern provinces of Britain, explaining why they frequently became incubators for new music with the combination of dying industries, art schools, and socialist/nationalist ideology. There were a lot of squats and communes. But he also has lots of good thoughts about American schools of postpunk--although he does avoid some of the more well-known scenes like Boston, D.C., and California that have probably been done to death. Mostly, what I got from this book was picking up stray threads of people and places I heard about, perhaps, but now I feel I've got a decently thorough schooling in who they were, what they sounded like, why they existed: their raison d'etre, if that changed, and how that made them get big/fail. Because the inevitability is always the ultimate failure, whether they had a moment at the Top of the Pops, or avoided it out of a sense of purity. It's kind of fascinating how many different ideas and styles got mashed up in these days--one thread that seems to permeate the post-punk era is this one decision--to guitar or no?? Because electric music was a big part of this era of music, of course. I learned a lot. Got me excited about music again. Bands I never heard of, bands I had heard of but never invested in mentally. I had missed a lot, whoo boy.I think my Big Learn here was recognizing the difference in experience for the American Music consumer (me) of that era and the British consumer(not me). The main difference, as I see it, was musicologists like John Peel, whose name appears again and again in this book. Forget Clapton is God---or John Stabb. John Peel was the Lord and Savior of all latter-twentieth century odd and creative music. America didn't have him, and that's a big empty for us. That's why Americans with unusual music taste had to dig deeper, search longer, and ultimately feel both alienated and special. We did not have a John Peel with a national microphone to spread the news.

  • Drew
    2019-01-17 16:18

    This is what happened: I bought the US edition of this book back when it was released, read it, loved it. Six months or so later, I learned that the original UK edition had been cut all to hell for its US release. Something like 200 pages had been removed in order to pare the US edition down to its 400 page final length. I was shocked and appalled, but never knew quite how to get myself a copy of the UK edition, short of doing an international order through Amazon UK, which I told myself would be prohibitively expensive. So that was all there was to it, for a long time.Then, a couple of months ago, I came into a large sum of money (four figures) with which I was free to purchase whatever I wanted. Well, in addition to paying off all of my past due utility bills and purchasing the laptop I'm currently typing this review on (a steal at $450), I went ahead and did the Amazon UK order to obtain the original, director's-cut edition of "Rip It Up And Start Again." Boy, am I glad I did. The 400 page edition that I originally read was thoroughly enjoyable, but it still couldn't compare to the author's original intention. With smaller print, the UK edition still came out to be 125 more pages than the US edition, and where the US edition included no pictures at all, the UK edition presented at least one image every half-dozen pages or so. I finally got to see the Scritti Politti EP cover depicting the squalor in which they lived, as well as photos from Throbbing Gristle and James Chance performances, amongst many other things. And the text was greatly expanded, not just in additional coverage for bands that had been unmentioned in the US text but also in additional sections, sometimes great portions of one chapter or another that were completely removed, which I was now reading for the first time. It was a revelation to me, especially since the sections that were removed often dealt with bands that I'd been far less likely to already know about than the bands that were left in the truncated manuscript.All of this is just a comparison between two editions, though. What's really important here is the work itself, and in reading this book, the first work I ever encountered by Simon Reynolds, I found myself going from barely aware of him to being a huge fan. That experience is only amplified by reading this new, expanded edition. Reynolds is one of the best music writers I've ever read, able to integrate literate, intensely rational analysis of the ideas behind particular groups and their recorded works, with far more emotionally-centered reactions to the feel and sound that those works ultimately emanated. Reynolds is more of a Greil Marcus than a Lester Bangs, but he's able to incorporate the strengths of both of these writers as well as those of many others, including British rock critics that I'm, again, less familiar with than I should be, into an ecumenical overall approach that leaves no stone unturned in its in-depth analysis of bands, scenes, movements, and overall periods in punk/rock history. I say "periods" because this book, despite its subtitular reference to postpunk, covers a great deal more than just that few years after the dissolution of the Sex Pistols in which Joy Division and Public Image Ltd. represented the cream of the creative crop. The book delves deeply into the New Wave/"New Pop" movements of the early 80s, probing the depths of synthpop and fey British "haircut bands" to find the serious ideas and important creative moments that were at the root of a great deal of the era. In so doing, Reynolds makes a persuasive case for the likes of the "Don't You Want Me" era Human League, Duran Duran, and even Culture Club. I almost find myself wanting to give certain era-defining synthpop albums another listen. Almost. Ultimately, that's the biggest tribute to the power of Reynolds's writing here. He not only makes me want to dig out records by groups I like that I haven't heard in quite a while, but also records by groups I've always hated. If his writing unearths a valuable truth or a worthwhile musical moment on the second Culture Club album or in Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax," I feel like I should hear it again, even though I'd ordinarily tell you that I'd be happy if I never heard any of that garbage again. That's enough to tell me that this is a writer worth paying attention to. "Rip It Up And Start Again" may be the first Simon Reynolds book I've ever read, but it won't be the last.

  • Andrew
    2019-01-05 12:24

    A thorough and intellectual (sometimes a little too thorough and intellectual) overview of British and American post-punk art rock and pop. The first half of the book explains the lofty intellectual and musical ideals the drove bands such as Public Image Ltd., Pere Ubu, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and the Pop Group, while the more fractured second half explains how this post-punk movement spawned goth, neo-psychedelia, synth pop, 2-tone, the new romantic scene, and finally the New Rock and New Pop that dominated MTV in the mid-to-late eighties. The path from the droning nihilism of Public Image Ltd's first two albums to Madonna's "Material Girl" doesn't seem clear at first, but Reynolds does a great job of making all the pieces fit. And while Reynolds clearly reveres post-punk for its ambition, innovation, and intellectual depth, he doesn't let its artists off the hook for their many shortcomings: their snobbishness, their political naivete, their stupid fascination with Nazism, and their sometimes condescending views of race. The book is overlong though, and sometimes Reynolds paints in very broad strokes when describing the political/economic/cultural environment from which post-punk emerged. Fewer half-assed attempts at sociology and a little more discussion of the individual personalities that shaped the post-punk scenes would have gone a long way here. Still, any book that can inspire me to listen to Pere Ubu's "Dub Housing" and Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" again can only be a good thing.

  • Lily Rojo
    2018-12-24 18:11

    This is a great read, but definitely meant only for those with previous knowledge of or respect for this era of music history. Newcomers to this genre will most likely be put off by the sheer amount of obscure information that Reynolds includes, while post-punk nerds such as myself will revel in it. However, it should be noted that the US version is highly censored and cut by almost 200 pages, and does not include the original photos of the UK release. Take some time to seek out the original UK publication and, of course, actually listen to the music that it's describing! It makes the whole experience of reading this book so much more enjoyable, you won't regret it!

  • Paul
    2018-12-20 19:20

    This is certainly the best single book so far on post-punk, but it is significantly impaired, firstly by Reynolds' refusal or inability to decide what he means by 'post-punk', and secondly, by his decision to try to include musical developments after punk in the US. He ought to have decided what 'post-punk' meant for him and stuck with it. Similarly, he ought to have limited the ambit of the book to the UK, Ireland & Germany, because his treatment of developments in those countries is generally excellent (albeit with some puzzling omissions and corresponding over-indulgences).The conceptual confusion about what 'post-punk' means is the most glaring general problem, and is signaled by a divergence in usage between the book cover and the text. On the cover & spine, the book is subtitled "Postpunk 1978-1984." In the text, the word is consistently rendered as "post-punk." The difference suggests a confusion between 'postpunk' as genre, and 'post-punk' as purely chronological distinction (anything after punk). This fundamental ambiguity is then underlined by the two parts of the book. Part One is "Post-Punk;" Part Two is "New Pop & New Rock." Part Two probably should have been a separate book.I turn now to the customary remonstrances for sins of omission. The chapter on the development of Goth doesn't so much as mention Dave Vanian & The Damned; I'd have thought they would be the seminal example of a band moving from punk to a particular place in post-punk. Psychedelic Furs are mentioned only in passing (and even then, only as a 'New Wave' band), while Echo & The Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes are discussed in detail. In perhaps the most bizarre oversights, Essential Logic are merely mentioned in passing, while Kleenex/LiLiPUT are not mentioned at all.There is, on the other hand, a sin of emission in his discussions (plural) of The Associates, which are quite frankly embarrassing. There's nothing wrong with having had sexual fantasies about a favorite singer, but all critical distance & judgment go out the window here, borne aloft by his fan-boy ejaculations. Twelve pages are devoted to this relatively unimportant and utterly non-influential band.As an American reader, his uneven and at times down-right shabby treatment of the development of post-punk in the USA is impossible to ignore. He is not American, and so he is completely reliant upon interviews and press coverage. This handicap is most glaringly apparent in the second of two chapters on New York. This chapter contains no writing by Reynolds at all; it is comprised entirely of quotes taken from music magazines, interspersed with some quotes taken from interviews. He does not even attempt an evaluation of the material presented. Why include this chapter at all?Worse, he appears to have decided not to engage with the Los Angeles scene in anything but the most cursory fashion, devoting almost all of his meager coverage to a discussion of L.A. hardcore punk…which had pretty much nothing to do with post-punk, certainly not stylistically.To begin with, his treatment of the San Francisco & Los Angeles scenes is bizarrely inverted; the L.A. post-punk scene was much larger and more diverse, and he fails altogether to mention either The Screamers, one of the great post-punk bands that actually preceded punk (like Pere Ubu, e.g.) or Deadbeats (who were doing New York-style No Wave at least as early as anybody in New York did). When he does gesture towards L.A. post-punk, interesting bands such as 100 Flowers, Human Hands, B-People & Monitor are only mentioned in a list; neither Wall of Voodoo nor the Fibonaccis rates a mention. [He also fails to mention Fear's 'New York's Alright (If You Like Saxophones)', which skewered the wildly over-rated No Wave scene with greater wit than any of the NY bands.]To return briefly to Goth, his treatment is limited to the UK (The Cramps are mentioned as a sartorial influence on one UK band). But the birth of American Goth in Los Angeles is a fascinating chapter in the history of the genre; many of the earliest L.A. Goths were Latino(a), and the role of the sanguinary Mexican style of Catholicism seems significant (and of course it's tempting to include the Aztecs as well).He makes a forehead-smacking error in describing "…basic apolitical hardcore, such as Orange County's TSOL…." TSOL's first record included songs such as 'Property Is Theft', 'Abolish Government/Silent Majority', and 'World War III'. But this error also serves to indicate an even bigger missed opportunity: TSOL's next record (Dance With Me) was explicitly Goth in subject matter and tried to chart a musical course between hardcore and some more expansive form. It isn't a brilliant album by any means, but it serves to underline a certain shoddiness in Reynolds' approach to the American scenes.He is aware of the emergence of hybrid punk/roots forms in Los Angeles in the wake of punk (Blasters, Gun Club, Los Lobos, et al.), but he doesn't seem to think they qualify as 'post-punk' for some reason (while Dexy's Midnight Runners somehow do). Neither does he stop to consider why that development occurred when and where it did.L.A. is, after all, the world capital of surface and appearance, and the themes of presentation, image, authenticity and self-fashioning are central to the book. Could there be a more interesting case study of a musician moving through the promise of punk, the experimental space of post-punk, and a subsequent turn to a pre-existing form than the career of Phranc, who went from Catholic Discipline to Nervous Gender (basically an L.A. band, though they started in San Francisco) to solo folk performer? Or how about the move of the Kinman brothers from the avowedly Marxist punk Dils to cowpunk pioneers Rank And File? Another opportunity missed. He could have considered why the reactions to the dead-end of punk took such different forms in the UK and in L.A. Indeed, a comparison of the UK with Los Angeles would have been much richer conceptually than the utterly predictable and by-the-numbers focus on NY No Wave and its progeny. It seems to have escaped him that No Wave skronk never appealed to more than perhaps 2,000 people, almost all of whom lived on the island of Manhattan, and it had no discernible influence on anybody else anywhere, ever. Compare the L.A. punk-roots hybridization: that birthed an entirely new sub-genre of music that spread across the country over the next few decades, alt-country.Overall, this is a very, very good book on most UK post-punk (qua genre), with a lot of perhaps overly-detailed material on the British pop music that came after post-punk. Perhaps a better, more tightly-focussed book will be written about post-punk someday. Until then, this will suffice as a guide to the curious and a prod to the nostalgic.

  • J.S.
    2018-12-28 13:21

    "I never bought old records during that period. Why would I have? There were so many new records to buy that there was simply no earthly reason to investigate the past." Simon ReynoldsSomewhere I heard that the music you're listening to when you're 14 years old is the music that you love the rest of your life. Well, I was 14 in the early eighties, and I'm still listening to that same music. While my friends were playing air guitar and air drums to the music of Journey, Boston, and REO Speedwagon, I was listening to A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Madness, and Echo & the Bunnymen. While their music heroes were hairy-chested long-haired manly(?) men in jeans and leather, mine were more often than not geeky and effeminate young Brits wearing makeup and sporting foppish hair styles and skinny ties. Needless to say, I endured a significant amount of persecution for my taste in music. So finding someone who champions those new wave artists like Simon Reynolds is like finding a kindred spirit."...it's often implied that nothing of real consequence happened between punk rock and grunge, between Never Mind the Bollocks and Nevermind...In retrospect, as a distinct pop-cultural epoch, 1978-82 rivals that fabled stretch between 1963 and 1967 commonly known as the sixties. The postpunk era makes a fair match for the sixties in terms of the sheer amount of great music created, the spirit of adventure and idealism that infused it, and the way that the music seemed inextricably connected to the political and social turbulence of its era. There was a similar blend of anticipation and anxiety, a mania for all things new and futuristic coupled with a fear of what the future had in store."Reynolds argues that the music that followed the demise of punk was not only highly creative and innovative but also more influential than punk. He chronicles the most notable bands of the time like Public Image Ltd (PiL – Johnny Rotten's new band after the breakup of The Sex Pistols), Joy Division, The Human League, Talking Heads (etc. etc. etc!) as well as the different genres like New Romantic, synthpop, African beats and world music, ska, goth, (etc. etc. etc!). He describes how the DIY mentality of punk was adapted by the postpunk bands, avoiding guitar and drum solos, forming their own labels, and embracing a cleaner sound and cleaner images – at least as far as the way they looked anyway. I was surprised to find that they weren't all one-hit wonders – many were hugely successful in Britain and frequently had chart-topping hits on that side of the Atlantic that didn’t get played on the radio over here. (The up-side of that is that now I'm finding a lot of great new old music.)"The true sign that you're living through a golden age is the feeling that it's never going to end. There's no earthly reason why it should stop. It's an illusion, of course, like the first swoony rush of falling in love, but that's how it felt to be young, British, and besotted with pop music in 1982."The book had me constantly opening Spotify to listen to songs and bands I didn't know (and my new wave playlist has grown to over 29 hours). It was fun to read about bands whose music I loved, but it dragged a bit on others. The US version of the book is abridged from the UK version, but there was still a TON of information. But most of all it was fun to read someone extolling the virtues of my favorite music and bands, and I recommend it for those with similarly refined tastes!

  • Eric
    2019-01-15 14:11

    Okay, I was the kid who ate, drank and dreamed music. Music was always around from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a small club, being the the midst of FEAR riot in downtown L.A., watching Grand Master Flash at the Palace, to catching Love and Rockets on their first tour in the U.S. Yeah, I was that guy who was suspended for sneaking out of class to go stand in the line to get tickets for The Who (with the Clash opening) and swore he would never wash his cheek after Suzanne Hoffs (from the Bangles) kissed it in the middle of the Roxy after congratulating her on their great set. I've never lost my love for music and I'm proud to say that I was one of the first to see the Asian Dub Foundation when the came to the states and I look at you with disdain if you don't know who Linton Kwesi Johnson is.With that said . . . something happened from 1978-1984. I found Two Tone in 1981 and didn't come back for air until about 1987. I guess during that time a lot of shit happened in the post punk era that I completely missed.Luckily, Simon Reynolds fills me in on shit that I either blew off or simply just didn't get. Shit, wanna talk about guilty pleasure, wanna talk about just fucked up certain music groups really were, want an outsiders take on the 2 Tone Revival? You will find it here....Sadly, no chapter on Zig Zig Sputnik. I find it unacceptable that he ignores one of the best practical jokes on the music industry and public ever!

  • Gabe
    2019-01-04 12:06

    Endlessly exhaustive and meticulously researched history of one of the most fertile and creative periods of music since rock and roll expropriated the black blue. There is an interesting parallel in which Reynolds compares the synth-pop Second English Invasion of the early 80s to the original 60s English Invasion - rather than UK bands taking black blues and selling back to the white Americans, it was UK bands taking the recent black innovations of disco and R&B, remaking them in their own image and selling it back to white America all over again. Americans are such suckers for foreign-remade versions of their own music!There are hundreds of bands in this book who are given a small chance, or an entire chapter, to shine. PiL, Talking Heads, Devo/Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, Wire - the major players of the postpunk movement are explored in depth, but it is Reynolds' exploration of the smaller bands - Orange Juice, ABC, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. - that makes this an outstanding and exhaustive work of music journalism. With the endless splintering of groups, radical new ideas thrown around, albums and singles aplenty to explore, this book could easily have been twice and long and still as fascinating. Now that you've read it, I suggest going to your used-record store and buying as many of the artists and albums discussed as possible for a full crash-course on post punk glory. Well done!

  • Ryan
    2018-12-26 12:16

    I bought this book as an ideal airplane book - potentially interesting, but not likely to be particularly taxing. And it was pretty much as a I expected. I'm not a post-punk disciple (born a little late), and know the music mostly from a "looking-back" perspective. Coming from this point of view, the beginnings of the book were pretty interesting, starting with PiL and moving forward. I've always wondered about the story of PiL, and it was well explained by Reynolds.The major problem with this book is the tendency of the chapters to fall into a similar pattern. The basic outline is : first, explain a particular hot spot of post-punk activity (generally geographic, often based upon a well-known label), second go into some detail about the flagship band of that hot spot and then last, quickly move through all the bands this flagship influenced. Clearly, this taxonomic style owes a lot to journalism and appeals to a typically fetish-like view of bands and their influences. But after about 5 chapters, it becomes a little mundane.Minor quibble - the cover of the book claims it to be "NME's Book of the Year". Incidentally, NME is mentioned a number of places in the book as being very influential in the post-punk movement. So it's not particularly surprising they would pick a book for "Book of the Year" that so heavily advertises their street cred.

  • Jesús
    2019-01-19 17:17

    Mastodóntico, enciclopédico, imprescindible. El libro de Reynolds pone orden en aquello que el punk dejó patas arriba y hace que nos preguntemos no ya qué es el post-punk, sino: ¿qué no es post-punk? Es música disco, es reggae, es dub; es negro, es blanco y es africano; es de Nueva York y es de Manchester; es autogestión, es independencia, es política y es baile; es ruido, furia y mierda, pero también es artístico, limpio y minimalista; es frío y es calor; es carne y es metal; es antirock y antiblues; es synthpop, es punk funk, es industrial; es mod, es ska, es feminista; es PIL y es The Pop Group, es Devo y Pere Ubu, es Joy Division y The Fall, es The Human League y es Talking Heads; es Bowie, es The Residents y es Roxy Music; es Simple Minds, es U2 y es Spandau Ballet también. Es algo, me parece, mucho más complejo e interesante que el propio punk porque fueron estas bandas las que realmente llevaron el espíritu de ruptura con la tradición del rock y el cabreo con la sociedad hasta nuevas y estimulantes formas de creación musical.

  • Bernard O'Leary
    2018-12-26 13:27

    It's such a challenge to document the musical landscape after punk, which really was a cultural Year Zero, especially in the British alternative scene. Reynolds takes the correct (imho) approach here of breaking it into two sections: the immediate aftermath, with bands like PiL, Joy Division, Devon and others experimenting with futurism; and the early eighties explosion of new forms like goth, industrial, two-tone and the all-conquering New Pop, with Thatcher's re-election as a natural cultural mid-point. It all hangs together surprisingly well. Reynolds is quite expert at finding the almost invisible threads that connect seemingly unconnected bands and scenes. Loads of superb anecdotes and surprising details, all adding up to a quite wonderful history of an extraordinary period.

  • Khris Sellin
    2019-01-12 12:06

    It took me FOREVER to finish this book, only because I was having such a great time going back & forth between it and YouTube to listen to some of the old favorites from the postpunk era, and some I'd never even heard of before. Lots of interesting stories and great insights about how some of these bands came together and what was going on behind the scenes and their "philosophies" about music and art, etc. So much fun going down memory lane!

  • Amy
    2019-01-08 19:25

    I loved it...I feel like I know everything about post-punk now! This book hits pretty much every one of my all-time favorites: Talking Heads, Devo, Orange Juice, Gang of Four, Joy Division, the Raincoats, etc etc. I've enjoyed reading Simon Reynolds in the past, and this seems like his main passion, so it does not disappoint.

  • Tosh
    2019-01-12 15:16

    Simon Reynolds is a great critic/historian. The 80's! On the surface it seems to be dull time, but alas, not true! Great music works were produced in that era, everything from Adam Ant (Yes!) to Pere Ubu. Public Image, The Slits, Scritti Politti - and lots more are covered in this book. A fascinating read to a world that doesn't exist anymore. That's the nature of 'pop.'

  • Tom O'Grady
    2018-12-28 16:09

    This book is a must read, if you are like me, and always trying to figure out exactly how classic rock, punk, post punk, and new wave evolved. The beauty of it, is with the internet, you can listen to every single artist that Reynolds talks about in this massive journey. There are some gems in there that I immediately purchased on Itunes (How could I not have heard of The New Age Steppers or The Flying Lizards, or Young Marble Giants...)The detailed exploration into the social and philosophical factors involved with the evolution of music in this period shed great light into things. I have had many lingering questions about some post punk artists, and most of them are now answered - I get it now.This book is funny, detailed, and it pays great respect to these creative artists of the post-punk period.Get a hold of this book, fire up your sound system so you can listen as you go, and a great many things in the evolution of music (after the rise and fall of stadium rock 1973) will make sense. It is like a piece of the puzzle that has been missing, is now in place, and the time-line and musical evolution, and the contributing factors, all understandably fit together.

  • Ian Forsyth
    2019-01-02 20:18

    Quotes/Notes:There have been a thousand carefully reasoned theses validating punk's sociocultural import, but if anyone's really honest, the sheer monstrous evil of punk was a huge part of its appeal. In retrospect, as a distinct pop-cultural epoch, 1978-82 rivals that fabled stretch between 63-67 commonly known as the sixties. Nobody has attempted to capture post-punk as what it was, a counterculture that, while fragmented, shared a common belief that music could change the world. Part of this book's argument is that revolutionary movements in pop culture actually have their widest impact after the "moment" has allegedly passed and the ideas spread from the metropolitan bohemian elites and hipster cliques that originally "owned" them into the suburbs and outer regions. By the summer of 1977, punk had become a parody of itself. It was at this point that the fragile unity that punk had forged between working-class kids and arty middle-class bohemians began to fracture. On one side were the populist "real punks" (later to evolve into the Oi! and hardcore movements) who believed that the music needed to stay accessible and unpretentious, to continue to fills its role as the angry voice of the streets. On the other side was the vanguard that came to be known as a chance to make a break with condition. Not everyone in postpunk attended art school, or even college. Self-educated in a scattered, omnivorous fashion, figures like John Lydon or Mark E. Smith of the Fall fit the syndrome of the anti-intellectual intellectual, ravenously well read but scornful of academia and suspicious of art in its institutionalized forms. But really, what could be more arty than wanting to destroy art, to smash the boundaries that keep it sealed off from everyday life?The postpunk years saw the systematic ransacking of modernist art and lit, an attempt to replay virtually every modernist theme and technique via the medium of pop music. Talking Heads turned a Hugo Ball sound poem into a tribal-disco dance track. Gang of Four, inspired by Brecht and Godard's alienation effects, tried to deconstruct rock even as they rocked hard. Duchamp was the patron saint of No Wave. Collage and cut-up were transplanted into music. Postpunks were critical of punk using conventional 50s garage rock n roll to overthrow rock's status quo, "radical content demands radical form". More than anyone else, Bowie was the touchstone inspiration for postpunk's ethos of perpetual change. Independent labels represented a sort of anticorporate microcapitalism based less on left-wing ideology than the conviction that the major labels were too sluggish, unimaginative, and commerce minded to nurture the most crucial music of the day. The intellectual underpinnings of this older rock criticism—notions of male misbehavior as rebellion, madness as genius, the cult of street cred and authenticity—were some of the very things being scrutinized and challenged by the antirockist vanguard. Propagated by Hollywood and popular song, the myth of romantic love gradually replaced religion as the opiate of the people in the 20th Century. There's something special about cities that were once prosperous. The residues of wealth and pride make a rich loam in which bohemia can grow. Former affluence bequeaths a material legacy in the form of handsomely endowed collages, art schools, museums, and galleries. Artists and slackers live cheaply in once grand houses that grown shabby and low-rent, while derelict warehouses and empty factories can be easily repurposed as rehearsal or performance spaces. A scuzzy biker's bar in Cleveland known as Pirate's Cove occupied what had once been John D. Rockerfeller's first warehouse where Pere Ubu performed. Synth player Allen Ravenstine used trust fund money to buy an entire apartment building called the Plaza in downtown Cleveland, and rented its thirty-six rooms out cheaply to artistically minded friends. Another by-product meant Ravenstine bought an expensive EML 200 Synth and took two years off to learn to play it. Living in a house out in the country, Ravenstine clocked in eight hours of practice a day, just as if it were a job. The Styrene's performances featured modern-dance and spoken word elements. Devo felt after Kent State you could either join the Weather Underground and kill some of the evil bastards who'd murdered anyone who'd mattered in the 60s or you could have a kind of whacked out creative Dada art response, which is what they did. Devo fantasized about making an anti-capitalist sci-fi filmCabaret Voltaire used a lot of cut-ups"The finishing touch was the bracelets: two small, individual-portion baked-beans cans, cut out at both ends and then slipped over the wrists."Bathtub speedIn the grand tradition of British misanthropic satire, Smith's [from The Fall] invective seems to come from somewhere outside the class system, a vantage point from which everything seems equally absurd and ludicrous—the privileged upper class and middle-management bourgeoisie with their pretensions and illusions, for sure, but also the proles with their inverted snobberies, escapist pleasures, and grumbling acquiescence to the way things are and forever shall be. Joy Division/Unknown Pleasures Cover: Could Ian Curtis possibly have known that pulsars belong to a distinct class of heavenly bodies known as misanthropic or isolated neutron stars? Industrial music in psychedelia inverted, replacing kissing the sky with gazing vertiginously into the cosmic abyss. Another touchstone for COUM Transmissions outside of Fluxus was the Vienna Aktionists and their ritualistic feats of abjection and self-mutilation. Typical components of a COUM performance included P-Orridge placing severed chicken heads on top of his penis and masturbating, or P-Orridge and Tutti engaging in simultaneous anal and vaginal sex using a double-pronged dildo. Various combinations of of soiled tampons, maggots, black eggs, feathers, and syringes full of milk, blood, or urine figured as props. For instance, P-Orridge might stick a hypodermic into his testicle and then inject the blood into a black egg. Or for a piece de resitance, he might give himself a blood-and-milk enema and then fart out the liquid, splattering the gallery floor. Throbbing Gristle, GP underlined frequently as "anti-music" During one gig in early 1977, GP poured scorn on the jeering punks in the audience: "You can't have anarchy and have music."TG's music in a sense was best understood as a delivery system for their ideas. abstract noise sculptures and found-sound collagesNo Wave resembled the perennial avant-garde urge to physically shatter the performer/audience barrier, to turn a spectacle into a situation Poet turned performance artist Vito Acconci had a piece called Seed Bed where he built a false floor under a gallery. He lay under the floor for a few hours every day and there was a sign on the wall saying, 'The artist is under the floor listening to you, fantasizing, and masturbating while you're in the gallery'. Chris Burden and Hermann Nitsch staged ritualistic, blood-soaked feats of endurance and abjection. Auto-destructive artFor those prepared to live somewhere that looked almost as bombed-out as Beirut, and where heroin was easier to buy than groceries, the Lower East Side was paradise. Tompkins Square Park was really dangerous, recalls Burg. I saw someone shot almost every day, dead bodies just left in the park. Lydia Lunch was a bit like the anti-Patti Smithwhite bohemian self-abasement and cynicism Eno: Art constantly rehearses you for uncertainty There's a photograph of the living room at Scritti Politti's squalid squat in Camden. It's a snapshot of a lifestyle: theory-addled, speed-stoked conversations raging till the crack of dawn, fevered debates about the radical potentials and counterrevolutionary pitfalls of popular music. An anarcho-surrealist tribe called the Metropolitan Indians staged mass shoplifting raids at luxury stores. In the Bologna riots of 1977, the mayor denounced the rioters as bohemian nihilists speed filled blur of book swapping and cerebral frenzycrypto-bourgeoise tendencies Like so many of their postpunk peers, This Heat wanted to awaken listeners to an acutely discomforting awareness of the world's evils. Far less attention has been paid to the third golden age of San Franciscan bohemia, based around punk rock, industrial culture, and art/music synergy in all their most outre manifestations in the late 70s, early 80s.Tuxedomoon's aura of jaded elegance always seemed somehow EuropeanRecords such as Metal Box and Unknown Pleasures, by dint of their very originality, ensure that they'll be copied by lesser groups whose imaginations have been overpowered. In pop, every wave of innovation inevitably installs a host of new cliches and conventions. Kitschedelic In a land where "nothing ever change," Hall sings, "fashion is/my only culture." [England]Where postpunk was resolutely modernist and obsessed with innovation, 2-Tone shared the postmodern sensibility of the New Pop movement that followed. Rather than meticulously re-creating a single, specific genre, 2-Tone sifted through pop's archives and mixed and matched elements of different styles—ska, Northern Soul, easy listening, rockabilly—along with flavors from contemporary music such as disco and dub. Postpunk bands rarely did cover songs, but 2-Tone signposted its sources and reference points with countless remakes and tributes—a citational compulsion shared by New Pop artists that sometimes took the form of wholesale interpolation of lyrics from classic pop singles. Swindle was McLaren's self-aggrandizing rewrite of recent history. The Pistols figured only as puppets with McLaren tugging at the strings. Punk was portrayed not as a movement of working-class kids discovering their own power, but as a tour-de-force of cultural terrorism perpetrated by the arch-strategist McLaren according to a step by step masterplan. Virgin had blithely turned McLaren's punk critique of commodification into a commodity. As a good situationist, McLaren should have known all along that "the spectacle" could absorb any disruption, no matter how noxious, and convert it into profit. McLaren grasped that the rise of portable playback technology (the walkman) would make music more omnipresent in people's lives, but less important, and that it would eventually become mere disposable software for sleekly designed, highly fetishized pleasure-tech devices. McLaren saw himself as a different kind of entrepreneur: not a petty bourgeois bean counter and ledger filler, but a dandy spendthrift, a cunning con man, a pirate upholding the grand British tradition of ransacking other cultures. the situationist fantasy of automation enabling a utopian future of perpetual playAgainst the doom and gloom of politicized postpunk, McLaren imagined a kind of unshackled pleasure principle triumphing over economic reality through style and sheer insouciance. McLaren's master scheme was "to create a child porn scandal implicating as many people as he could."McLaren had conned himself into believing his own retroactive myth of punk as a meticulously planned swindle. He imagined that he could dream up a subculture from scratch and the kids would simply fall in line. McLaren often pontificated in interviews about how punk had liberated kid's energy. But any flesh-and-blood youngsters who fell into his clutches were deceived and dominated. If they showed any signs of independent thought or unwillingness to sacrifice themselves on behalf of his ideas, they were discarded. McLaren firmly believed in the "great man" theory of history, the idea that through sheer will the visionary genius can transform everything. This conception of change as a top-down process, with revolutionary ideas handed down from above, was profoundly anti-democratic and opposed to some of punk's core impulses, such at the DIY ethos. It also misrepresented McLaren's role and the real nature of his genius. During the whole Pistol's adventure, McLaren actually operated as an improviser more than someone who had everything premeditated in detail. McLaren himself talked of his forte as being a mismanager, someone who at crucial moments simply wasn't there. Steve Maas sponsored a club that was less like a discotheque or rock venue than a bohemian salon and performance art space. Kid Creole: "All of my bands were too clever, and it took me ages to understand that 'clever' isn't necessarily it. Truly great rock music is not clever. Don't get me wrong, I love all my records, but they're not elemental like Joy Division or Neil Young." Numan had no time for social realism or everyday subjects, instead adapting his lyrics from a sci fi novel he'd try to write. The saga concerned a city in the near future administered by a "wise" megacomputer originality created by humans to bring their soicety back from the brink of anarchy. The machine decides that humans are actually the problem and embarks on a secret program of elimination. Derrida and his confreres beaverishly gnawed at the roots of Western thought, toppling ideas of progress, reason, truth, and the like. By the late 70s , French thinkers of that sort Green had been devouring were flirting with the once unthinkable (for the left) notion that American capitalism, despite its faults, offered a lot of space for doing it yourself and bending the law. Could it be that "desire" actually had a better time of it in pluralistic, free-market societies than in bureaucratic Euro-socialist states? The true sign that you're living through a golden age is the feeling that it's never going to end. Nesmith went off to make his own "video album," Elephant Parts.August 81 MTV's launch, first clip: the Buggles' "Video killed the Radio Star"Kraftwerk (the icy electronics, the cyborg aura)All those discredited concepts that New Pop tried to retire (authenticity, rebellion, community, transgression, resistance), along with all those outmoded sounds it had presumed dead and buried (distorted electric guitar, the raw-throated snarl), were preparing to strike back. the original Goths, those Germanic barbarians who swarmed over the dying Roman EmpireSiouxsie Sioux crystalized the emerging Goth movement's spirit when she declared her desire to be "a thorn in the side of mediocrity."Those who didn't buy the New Pop dream still pined for a band that represented some sort of vision quest, a band worth being devout about. Along with lyrical and pictorial imagery of natural grandeur, the Big Music groups shared a Celtic connection. They were all from Scotland, or Ireland, or the heavily Irish Liverpool and Manchester. They also often gave the quest for "indefinable glory" a vaguely military or messianic aura. Art of Noise's absurdist collage of beats and pieces, its "flung together" messthetic of "inconsistencies, hyperbole, non sequitar, and conflicting themes," as Dudley put it, was actually much closer to Dada than the carnage-crazy Italian futurists. the realpolitik of eighties popby 1985, "indie" referred to a musical genre, or gaggle of subgenres, with increasingly narrow parameters. "Indie" indicated a distinct sensibility, too, a sort of resentfully impotent opposition to mainstream pop. In the mid80s, most chart pop was glossy, guitar free, black influenced, soulfully strong voiced, dance orientated, high-tech, and ultramodern. Indie made a fetish of the opposite characteristics: scruffy guitars, white-only sources, weak or "pale" folk-based vocals, undanceable rhythms, lo-fi or Luddite production, and a retro (usually 60s) slant. Rave music teemed with futuristic textures and strange noises that came straight out of D.A.F. and Cabaret Volatire, but the context (crazed collective hedonism) and the emotion (euphoria with a mystic tinge) were totally different. Acid house essentially fused postpunk futurism with 60s Dionysian frenzy.How to make politics in pop work without it being preaching to the converted, politically correct, or overearnest was one of postpunk's primary quandaries. Today, it seems that most bands deal with the problem by avoiding it all together. Bands / Albums to Look Into:The Pop Group / 1st AlbumThe Slits / 1st AlbumGang of Four / Entertainment! Pere Ubu / Datapanik in the Year Zero / The Modern Dance / Dub Housing Cabaret VoltaireCanThe FallLou Reed / Metal Machine MusicThrobbing GristlePsychic TVNurse with Wound / Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an UmbrellaMarsTalking Heads / 77; Fear of Music; Remain in Light; Bush of GhostsWire / Pink FlagCompilation album: Wanna Buy a Bridge?Scritti Politti / Cupid and Psyche 85The Residents / EskimoChrome / Songs: "Choromosome Damge" "All Data Lost" "Abstract Nympho" [related to cyberpunk]Dexys / Don't Stand me Down [bizarre comic dialogues such as "This is What she's Like" rants against he English upper classes, and metasoul exercises such as "The Occasional Flicker"]Bow Wow WowJosef KThe Associates: songs: "White Care in Germany" "Q Quarters"Tubeway Army / Replicas [ideas from an unpublished sci fi novel]John Foxx / MetamaticNeubautenThe Birthday Party / "Mutiny in Heaven"Echo and the Bunnymen / Crocodiles / Heaven Up Here / Ocean RainU2 / The Unforgettable FireArt of Noise

  • Scott Holstad
    2019-01-05 16:30

    This was an exhausting book to read, in part, because the author was so exhaustive in his research and, thus, the book is a thorough overview of British, and to a lesser extent, American post-punk rock. It's also a strangely intellectual book, and at times, it felt like I was reading a modern history textbook.Early on, Reynolds discusses the demise of punk and the (odd) opinion that The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" actually signaled the end of punk -- not the height of its glory. He shows post-punk to be distinct from punk and New Wave, among others. The post-punk bands that followed punk wanted to continue the revolution that it began but failed to fulfill. There was a sense of existing to negate the corporate hit-making machinery and ideology of 70s-era prog and commercial rock, or at least until New Pop and New Wave came along and flailed against such post-punk rebellion by emulating the most listener-friendly pop forms. These early post-punk bands began exploring other forms of music, such as experimentation with art rock, electronics, dub, reggae, funk, and even disco. Some of these early post-punk bands wanted to make a wall of noise and often the bands were made up of a collective as opposed to trained musicians. Often, the traditional instruments (guitars, drums, etc.) were completely ignored for synths and tapes, as well as other assorted unknown instruments. If there were even concerts, film and theater often played large roles. Audience participation was often encouraged.The book is divided into two halves: one is pure post-punk and the second is "new pop and new rock." As a result, it read like two distinctly different books. The first chapter is about PIL (Public Image Limited), Johnny Rotten's band he formed after ditching the Sex Pistols. According to Reynolds, PIL was the start of the post-punk movement. However, numerous other bands formed and began playing, such as Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Devo, Gang of Four, Wire, Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle, and tons of bands I've never heard of. The second half begins with The Specials, before moving on to ska and Bow Wow Wow, as well as the New Romantics, such as Adam Ant. The author goes further into groups like Gary Numan, Haircut 100, ABC, Duran Duran, and pretty much ties it all together with Madonna, of all people, at the end of the book. It's a very exhaustive look at hundreds of bands and many scenes throughout the UK and America. And that kind of presents a bit of a problem. The chronology of the book's chapters runs back and forth as different scenes and genres are covered, which was occasionally confusing. Everything was thrown into the mix together -- the bands, band missions, various genres, record stores, record labels, clubs, new types of technology -- everything. It was nearly overwhelming. One of the major problems of the book was its tendency of the chapters to follow a pattern that got a little old fairly soon. Reynolds first discusses a specific post-punk hot spot, often geographically (such as Manchester, Liverpool, NYC, San Francisco, etc.). He then discusses the best band, or several bands, from that scene before mentioning virtually every band possible from that same scene or hot spot. Like I said, it gets a little old....Another major problem I had with the book was its insistence that this second British invasion was the most important musical movement since the first, citing hundreds of bands, most of whom I've never even heard of, and I'd wager many other people never have either. Among the bands Reynolds discusses are The Pop Group, New Age Steppers, Delta 5, The Future, Teenage Jesus, This Heat, Tuxedomoon, Factrix, A Certain Ratio, and so many more. Many of these bands he discusses as so very relevant never even released an album, and those that did usually just released an EP or one debut album that sold something like 5,000 copies and they were never heard from again. I fail to understand why so many of these, frankly, unimportant bands were deemed worthy of inclusion.The book, and many of the bands in it, pay homage to some that came before them, such as Captain Beefheart, Roxy, Bowie, Eno, etc, and that's cool. It's really not a bad read and I learned a lot. I just think a lot of it was unnecessary and I question the author's intentions. Did he just want to expand the book's pages to charge more? I also could have done with a little less (band) name dropping and more detail on some of the more significant bands. However, it was good to see personal favs like Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, and Skinny Puppy mentioned. I'd recommend this book for any 70s music fan and many music enthusiasts, but it's a bit of a cautious recommendation. I think you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff, and that's a bit of a pity -- but it's ultimately worth it.

  • Bunnyhugger
    2019-01-10 19:28

    Update 2I've just finished reading my copy of the US edition which covers a lot of ground despite being 200 pages shorter than the original UK version. Simon Reynolds gives a detailed account of this time period and is enjoyably opinionated which made the text less dry than it could have been. Inevitably, I found some chapters more interesting than others, and felt that he gave some genres too much attention while overlooking others (although this may have been affected by the cuts to this edition.) I recall the 2 Tone/ska revival having a greater impact on the musical scene for example. It's subjective though, I suppose, since most of what I read about the US scene was new to me. I found YouTube videos to be a fun resource while reading this (and made up for the lack of photos in this edition.) It was interesting to read about early MTV and "new pop" (the second British Invasion) and the subsequent backlash with "the familiar Anglophobia/homophobia slippage that equated glamour and synths with effeminacy." I was glad to see the band Japan (my obsession for many years) given its dues even if just for a page. The chronology of the chapters chops back and forth a bit as different threads are covered, which was confusing at times. Bands, genres, missions, record labels, new technology all weaved in. In the afterword, Reynolds lists some of the contemporary post-punk influenced bands: Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, Bloc Party etc. Good stuff.Update 1I don't think I can wait until I've finished to start discussing this book! In Rip It Up and Start Again, music journalist Simon Reynolds examines the 6-year period after punk where bands such as Joy Division, Public Image Limited, Bauhaus, Scritti Politti and others emerged. In the US, they were apparently considered more "underground". In the UK, however, many of these bands could be heard blaring on mainstream radio stations and on the weekly Top of the Pops on BBC1. You were forced to listen to all kinds of music on TOTP while you were waiting for your favorite band to come on: progressive rock, R&B, country, appalling "novelty" songs. It could be maddening but it was a good education. (To give an example of how much of an institution the show was: even at the boarding school I was at for a while, where there was mandatory silent "prep time" after High Tea each night, we had special dispensation on Thursdays starting 7:20 PM.)In the prologue, the author discusses the demise of punk and the opinion that The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" actually signaled the end of the movement not the height of its glory. The postpunk vanguard wanted to continue the revolution that punk began but never fulfilled. It began to experiment with electronics and dub reggae, even disco. I find it quite fascinating to read descriptions of music because I can never find the words myself when trying to explain a genre to someone! For example, regarding guitar, the "fat" sound versus "skinny" guitar. It's also interesting to read about the underlying political philosophies because I'd been too young to be aware of anything but the music. A lot of these groups were a backlash to the new era of right-wing Thatcher politics but eschewing the in-your-face aspect of punk.I've just finished the chapter on John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten) and the creation of Public Image Limited. The group was financed by the fledgling Virgin label - Richard Branson even sent him to Jamaica so he could get inspiration (rastafarianism provided an influence.)Until next time!

  • Adam
    2019-01-10 15:22

    Punk has gotten too many histories and This Band could be your Life gave a history of the American Post hardcore, but my favorite moment in the history has been relatively undocumented until Reynold’s brilliant book. The collision of some of my favorite literature (Kafka, Ballard, Burroughs, New Worlds Science fiction), and music (Krautrock, Roxy Music, Bowie, Captain Beefheart, dub reggae, Parliament/Funkadelic,) the energy and DIY aspects of punk, and the pessimistic political situation of the seventies created some of the most innovative music of the 20th century. The Pop Group, This Heat, The Slits, The Residents, Pere Ubu, Devo, DNA, The Contortions, Mars, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Raincoats, Gang Of Four, Public Image Limited, Joy Division, Mission of Burma, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, and Throbbing Gristle are the canon as far as I am concerned. Reynolds is passionate, erudite writer who captures the narrative perfectly and makes this an irresistible book. Obviously some people are going to disagree with some of his statements (I for one find The Pop Group’s albums brilliant messes rather than ambitious messes and wish Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Birthday Party weren’t discussed only briefly and only in the context of Goth), but for the most part they are well thought out and worth grappling with. This book also provides a backdoor history of the era it covers which is equally fascinating as the music content. I lost a little attentiveness as the music starts to lose interest for me in the early eighties with New Pop and the early MTV generation, it’s sad to see the envelope pushing fade to boring pop and visuals, but Reynolds writing helped me push through. This book is a treat for music lovers and those curious about an era whose influence continues to reverberate. A great book on an exciting era of music and a great book of the how the despair and the hope for reinvention of the seventies gave way to the image based, money obsessed, and conservative eighties.

  • Phil
    2018-12-23 14:05

    I would have given this book five stars if it had a more cohesive sense of continuity, but with the sheer amount of ground Reynolds covers, I don't know if that would have been possible. Each individual chapter, typically covering a group of stylistically or otherwise related artists, usually in a particular city or region, reads more like a standalone article, though the chronological ordering of the chapters and the web of mutual influence among the artists made it inevitable that certain names would pop up throughout the book. There are general themes that Reynolds touches on throughout, perhaps the most fascinating being the fact that the musical climate left in the wake of the '70s punk bands was largely responsible for the development of both noisy, confrontational, disturbing bands like Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse, and groups like The Thompson Twins and Simple Minds, who seemed to personify the most innocuous, disposable pop of the era. I was continually surprised when ideas that were patently absurd on the surface, like Depeche Mode being the recontextualization as pop music of the sounds of metal-banging early industrial groups like Einsturzende Neubauten and Test Dept, made a lot of sense when I really thought about them. If you have any interest at all in the post-punk music that came out between 1978 and 1984, Rip It Up and Start Again is an absolutely essential read. Bands like Joy Division, Wire, Gang of Four, Talking Heads, Public Image Ltd, Pere Ubu, The Fall, Devo, Cabaret Voltaire, and dozens of others are treated in depth, with hundreds more mentioned in passing. It took me months to finish, not because its content wasn't compelling, but because I was constantly stopping to spend weeks tracking down and listening to music from numerous artists who were either unfamiliar to me, or whose more creative (and typically earlier) work I hadn't heard. [Get the British edition, with the yellow cover, if at all possible. A lot of material was cut in the U.S. edition ]

  • Wes Freeman
    2018-12-19 17:06

    Book divided between the underground and mainstream bands of the post-punk era/ethos. Most of 'em are British. I once saw a Yardbirds' documentary where former 'birds guitarist Eric Clapton said, "I just don't think you can start a band on a drawing board." Here is 400 pages of bands that did; highly conceptual bands, all of which seem to have wandered in through the doors punk opened, none of which seem to sound like Eric Clapton. If punk was the Year Zero (author maintains it's not) then these would be the bands from years A.P. 1 through 7, the book literally starting with the Sex Pistols' last show in 1978. These bands played Post-Punk, a music so varied and amorphous that it requires a label defining it in terms of what it is not. Lots of synth in here, heaps of dudes who want to take the roll out of rock. Not everyone has a drummer. Folks are down with mixed-media light shows. Halfway through you meet dudes you still find on jukeboxes like Dexy's Midnight Runners and the Specials. Subtext of the book is that post-punk is about race to a greater extent than is readily apparent, even with hindsight. On both sides of the Atlantic bands hold meetings and decide whether or not they'll pay attention to black music. Pere Ubu says no, Gang of Four says yes, Scritti Politti kinda doesn't, then kinda does. Scritti Politti and Human League are fun to watch as they move from recondite left-leaning noise music to Top of the Pops, charting the path (and vagaries) of success in the early 80s. Book deals with the post-punk music business nearly as much as it deals with the music itself. John Peel is quoted as saying, "I don't even like the music I like." Dust-free studio perfection in the early 80s is explained.

  • Aaron
    2019-01-08 13:19

    It's no secret amongst my friends that I pretty much obsess over the post-punk era. This books seemed short at 500+ pages while containing more information and insight into the scene, how it came about, mutated and ended than seemed possible. Sure there's a million other stories to tell... There's a wealth of information that could be gotten from the artists mouth's themselves (as this book seemed light on direct contact). As the first book I am aware of that tried to broach this topic with any sense of a 'big picture' it does a fine job in sketching out the outline, providing some architecture to understand the shape of the scene.In that, sometimes it felt weird that maybe a band so vital to the definition of post-punk, like Wire, got almost as much column inches as a toss-off novelty of the scene like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but if you look at it as a measure of where the scene started and how it ended, both stories are almost equally relevant.What really surprised me about this book--and perhaps this is unfair--is how thoughtfully a straight (and I'm assuming, white) male addressed feminist and gender issues of that era. His insights often sounded like those closely familiar with currents of gender-politics. It was a striking moment for women in rock that helped redefine the role they could play in bands and how. The era saw the last taboos of gay and bisexual politics breached if not torn down. In that, it was crucial but not guaranteed that the author have not just the requisite sensitivity, but a near-insider's view of these issues. Simon Reynolds rose to that challenge admirably.

  • Julie Mickens
    2018-12-24 12:19

    This is what was cool in that first decade that I was alive, but too young to know anything beyond my parents' country 8-tracks and what was on the car radio. As I gradually began to discover this music in high school and beyond -- anywhere from 5 to 15 years after it was actually made -- it seemed as if I had always known it, as if it were for me. Not in the same way that my contemporary music was known (Kurt, et al). Instead, as if it had entered my little primordial tadpole fetus brain so long ago in the '70s, and as if it had beamed across the miles -- not audibly yet, but only via the collective unconscious -- to a little dusty Iowa kindergarten, so many miles away from Manchester UK, London, New York and even Athens GA. (Coincidence: My American hometown is named Manchester, just like Ian Curtis'.) Extensive survey of post-punk, no wave, new wave, etc., in the UK and USA. The UK side is a bit more thorough and on-the-mark than the American chapters, but it's all enjoyable for a music fan.

  • Autumn
    2019-01-14 19:15

    This incredibly detailed, but very readable, history of the late 70s/early 80s British music scene is a revelation. Simon Reynolds covers all the important (and obscure) postpunk bands and creates a coherent narrative from it. Do you want to know about the leftist roots of Scritti Politti? Does it delight you to know that Echo and the Bunnymen were incredibly scornful of U2 because they were both trying to attract bereft Joy Division fans? Do you want to know exactly how industrial music was invented? Well, here it all is. The best part is discovering the tortured ideological paths certain MTV bands took to chart success. Human League was trying to foment a revolution, at first! Most of these bands were chock full of ideology, synths and a plan for the FUTURE. It seems that the few who became one-hit wonders in the U.S. got there despite their best intentions. So, read this book, gain more respect for bands you already know and look up Josef K on Myspace. This book could really send a resourceful teenager down a very exciting rabbit hole.

  • Ian Mathers
    2018-12-29 12:31

    Technically this was a reread, but I don't have it in Goodreads, my first read was years ago and the UK edition instead of the US, and I _did_ read it this year, so I'm counting it for the reading challenge (so there). I'd probably give the UK edition with the three extra chapters and other missing material five stars, not because it's perfect and not because I agree with Reynolds on everything (and you can definitely spot the roots of some of his errors circa Retromania in the afterword), but it is an excellent historical overview of an era that doesn't get enough attention (or at least didn't until recently). Only some of his overarching themes and points land, but the ones that do are generally excellent, and there's a wealth of amazing music and interesting people/scenes detailed therein. Personally I was only 3 when the era this book covers ends, but the music from it and the influence of it still describes a good chunk of the music I love and the music I grew up on (both when they're the same thing and when they're not...).

  • Jesse
    2019-01-09 18:32

    It would have been easier to read this as it was originally published (serially by chapter and illustrated with photos). Reading the thing through, I was bored by the chapters that focused exclusively or primarily on musicians. The sections that gave a more balanced insight into the workings of the management/artist/journalist triumvirate were more successful, particularly the chapter on ZTT and those that dealt with Malcolm McLaren's various projects. P.S. I have heard that the UK edition is illustrated and includes 200 pages cut from the US version, including a chapter on the mysterious Vic Godard and his Subway Sect. Clearly that is the version (pictured above, with no John Lydon on the cover) to seek out.