Monday, September 05, 2016


Mostly from the other side of the Atlantic, this is a kick-ass book that deals with a Brit-centric view of post punk (c. 1978 - 1984).  Good stuff.  Well-written, seems like a lot of research was done, plus this appears to be the music of the author's own personal musical coming-of-age.  Always a plus.

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Unlike OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE, this collection attempts to tackle the whole genre in a giant, semi-chronological overview instead of focusing on the stories of specific bands as microcosms of a bigger picture.

The drawbacks to this approach are:

a) the occasional descent into geeky fanboy-dom, where the author raves about personal fave groups who, realistically, are sub-footnotes in the history of all this nonsense.  Of course, ALL bands will eventually be nothing more than footnotes, when you get down to it, and that includes the Beatles and the Stones.  And, as a fan of all this hideously obscure music myself, I understand how people tend to get rabid about the largely unknown groups they like.  Still, to give The Associates more space than the Banshees or (much more than ) Killing Joke is a little annoying.

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and b)  The term post-punk itself is a little tricky, of course.   Sure, it probably started w/ PiL and the upstart bands who dug the attitude of punk but not the non-ironic conformity (Joy Division, Banshees, etc etc), but then it exploded into a million sub-genres.  One of the illustrations in this book is the Rolling Stone cover of Boy George, when all the UK new wave bands got huge thanks to MTV and swept into America.  I have to draw the line there.  Culture Club as post-punk?  Not gonna happen.  Human League?  Sure.  Listen to their pre- "Don't You want Me" work.  Frankie Goes to Hollywood?  I'm not sure an updated version of the Monkees is going to fly as a "post-punk" band.

So, as I've stated, the author decides to deal with 1978-84.  Sounds about right for the start date, but any cut-off date you pick will be fairly arbitrary, of course.  Why include anything past 1980?  Why not go until 1985, so you can wedge The Jesus and Mary Chain in there?  They make it into the post-script of the book, but they definitely fit the bill conceptually to be major players.

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This is where the Associates come in, though, and Simple Minds which, in the context of this book, is a personal peeve of mine.  Sure New Gold Dream was a great album but, goddamn, these boys were OUT OF THEIR HEADS AWESOME for 4 freaking albums before NGD, and this dude just glosses over them, only mentioning one by name!

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OMD, oddly enough, get pretty much written off, referred to on page 334 as "highly melodic, slightly wet and increasingly pretentious", despite this bit coming after admiring bits about Human league and Ultravox, who were taking pretentiousness to new levels at the time.

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This is what I mean by rabid fans.  We take this shit personally.

All in all, though, a very good book, sheds light on an excellent period of music that spent a lot of time getting written off by many baby-boomer douchebag critics who seemed unable to accept that Jackson Browne and James Taylor's ultrabland heydays had come and gone......

You know these kinds of people.  The ones who were the same age then as I am now.

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