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Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews

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"Totally Wired" features 32 interviews with the era's most innovative musicians and colourful personalities. From Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, Green Gartside, Edwyn Collins, it also includes conversations with the most influential of label bosses, managers, record producers, deejays and journalists - such as John Peel and Paul Morley. Crackling with argument and anecdo "Totally Wired" features 32 interviews with the era's most innovative musicians and colourful personalities. From Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, Green Gartside, Edwyn Collins, it also includes conversations with the most influential of label bosses, managers, record producers, deejays and journalists - such as John Peel and Paul Morley. Crackling with argument and anecdote, these conversations bring a rich human dimension to the post-punk story and its exceptional characters, from their earliest days to their glorious and sometimes disastrous musical adventures. Along with interviews, we get 'overviews': further reflections by Simon Reynolds on post-punk's key icons and crucial scenes, including John Lydon and Public Image Ltd, Ian Curtis and Joy Division, and the lineage of glam grotesquerie running from Siouxsie & The Banshees to the New Romantics to Leigh Bowery.


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"Totally Wired" features 32 interviews with the era's most innovative musicians and colourful personalities. From Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, Green Gartside, Edwyn Collins, it also includes conversations with the most influential of label bosses, managers, record producers, deejays and journalists - such as John Peel and Paul Morley. Crackling with argument and anecdo "Totally Wired" features 32 interviews with the era's most innovative musicians and colourful personalities. From Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, Green Gartside, Edwyn Collins, it also includes conversations with the most influential of label bosses, managers, record producers, deejays and journalists - such as John Peel and Paul Morley. Crackling with argument and anecdote, these conversations bring a rich human dimension to the post-punk story and its exceptional characters, from their earliest days to their glorious and sometimes disastrous musical adventures. Along with interviews, we get 'overviews': further reflections by Simon Reynolds on post-punk's key icons and crucial scenes, including John Lydon and Public Image Ltd, Ian Curtis and Joy Division, and the lineage of glam grotesquerie running from Siouxsie & The Banshees to the New Romantics to Leigh Bowery.

30 review for Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This collection of interviews and selected essays about postpunk is incredibly informative and insightful. Simon Reynolds knows and loves his subject, which makes him a successful interviewer. It’s a great companion piece to his similarly excellent Rip it Up and Start Again. Postpunk was truly fertile ground, drawing from 70’s white proto-punk and interacting with contemporary black music sonically (disco beats, emphasis on drum and bass instead of guitar, incorporation of saxophone, etc.), while This collection of interviews and selected essays about postpunk is incredibly informative and insightful. Simon Reynolds knows and loves his subject, which makes him a successful interviewer. It’s a great companion piece to his similarly excellent Rip it Up and Start Again. Postpunk was truly fertile ground, drawing from 70’s white proto-punk and interacting with contemporary black music sonically (disco beats, emphasis on drum and bass instead of guitar, incorporation of saxophone, etc.), while drawing do-it-yourself ethos from punk itself. A major insight is that artists and bands associated with postpunk, particularly from the UK, were consuming Iggy, the Velvets, and Beefheart from the States and Neu!, Can, Amon Düul from Germany. Domestically, they were raised on a diet of glam: Bowie, Bolan, and especially Eno and Roxy. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought this, given that UK postpunk bands didn’t sound much like these groups. But it makes sense when you consider the chronology: this is simply what was going on in the post-60s, early-70s before punk. While US and UK punk bands were principally drawing inspiration from Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry musically and 60s American garage in terms of attitude and style, the postpunk bands looked to early 70s groups instead and shared their avant-garde intellectualism and sonic experimentalism. Even though the pre-punk 70s was the primary source, punk itself was a necessary event for postpunk to happen; primarily for spreading the DIY work ethic. Many of those interviewed here cite the Pistols album for giving them the realization and confidence that they could start bands. Many cited the Buzzcocks’ self-released Spiral Scratch EP for the inspiration that they could then also release their own bands’ records. Thinking again about the UK bands, Reynolds shows how a lot of the mainstream glam of the 70s fueled the later postpunk artists in the UK but not in the States: “…in America, people who are into alternative culture want to situate themselves outside the commercial mainstream. They see that as the domain of the phoney, the kitsch—the showbiz. But in Britain ‘pop’ has never been a dirty word. There’s always more of a feeling that you can get into the charts and weird them up. Glam was huge in Britain, but Bowie and Roxy didn’t make much impression in America. Look at Sparks, who are American, but vastly more successful in Britain than in the US. We have this tradition of odd people becoming pop stars, strange and quirky records being hits. So the pop mainstream doesn’t feel oppressive to British youth like it does to their American counterparts. Pop is seen as an arena for mischief and infiltration” (424-425). Typical is Martin Bramah, guitarist for The Fall’s response to Reynold’s question of how he got into music: “The first singles I bought were Slade and T Rex. Bowie was a big influence on everybody in 1972-3, and then he introduced us through his interviews to Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. From there we got into Krautrock, Can and Neu!, and Beefheart and Velvet Underground. At the time it seemed very underground; no one seemed to know about it but us. That’s what drew those elements of what became The Fall together” (203). Conversely, in the U.S., David Thomas of Pere Ubu places his band in the American 60s rock tradition while also showing how it joined with the European avant-garde : “I was more Midwestern-oriented—I liked MC5, Stooges, and all that sixties garage stuff, like Question Mark, The Music Machine…Beefheart is very close to that sort of approach. At that time, if you were looking for electronic sounds, there was Terry Riley, Beaver & Krause, Silver Apples and all the German stuff. All of that was a component of bands like MC5. There’s always been a relationship between hard Midwest groove rock and pure sound. So it was natural for us to do that” (58). Developing the same point about American postpunk operating out of the mainstream, Thomas explains why they didn’t become popular: “We were on the edge of being popular, but we were fundamentally incapable of being popular because we were fundamentally perverse and uninterested. This is the strength of our upbringing. This is why all adventurous art is done by middle-class people. Because middle-class people don’t care. ‘I’m going to do what I want, because I can do something else better and make more money than this.’ If you sit down and make a list of the people you consider to be adventurous in pop music, I’d bet you lots that the vast majority of them are middle-class” (64). Thomas introduces an provocative point about countercultural music’s class origins. This jives with Reynold’s point of how much of UK postpunk (and punk as well) was made by art students. In fact, it is astonishing how intellectualized so much of post punk was. Here is a member of the (in my opinion, musically uninteresting) Scritti Politti: “There was also a lot of that Gramscian talk around at that time, talking about culture and ideology in a more straightforward Marxist-y way. And finally there was the whole punk thing about control of production and distribution, getting up and doing it yourself. So these were all separate but seamlessly contiguous areas” (182). Indeed, most of the interviewees discussed with Reynolds socialist politics and/or theory in the vein of situationism or dada. While not political, Eno is perhaps the arch-example of this highly conceptual music approach and theorized musical practice. Reynolds’ essays (including the fantastically-titled “Ono, Eno, Arto,” are some of the most spot-on and succinct explanations of that artist: “Eno’s approach was markedly different to Ono’s, however, in that he didn’t have her political and feminist commitments, nor her belief in expressionism (which in the spirit of the sixties tends to equate ‘truth’ with the pre-socialised, the child-like or animalistic). Ideas, Eno argued, counted for far more than craft. But they also counted for more than passion, emotional content, expressive intent. If Ono was a proto-punk, angry and anguished, Eno was proto-post-punk: his critique of rock’s fixation with authenticity and passion anticipated the post-punk interrogation of ‘rockism.’ But in another sense, Eno’s impulse wasn’t anti-rock so much as an attempt to liberate certain potentials in the music. Eno aimed to bypass rock’s ego drama, its ‘adolescent’ (as he saw it) theatre of rebellion and to focus instead on its noise and its mechanistic insistence (‘idiot energy,’ he called it), along with its infringements of taste, logic and proportion (the ‘insanity…clumsiness and grotesqueness’ he valued in Roxy Music….“ (370). And, “The essence of record production, for Eno, was its departure from real time: instead of recording an musical event, you built up a phantasmagorical pseudo-event that could never have happened as a discrete performance-in-time (371). “Eno’s sensibility came from the plastic arts rather than literature; indeed, he rejected ‘rockist’ ideas of expression torn from the heart and soul, often forming his lyrics out of nonsense babble (371). Reynolds uses this explanation for how he differed so greatly from the literary New York punks: Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell, and Patti Smith. Reynolds is also in top form when analyzing Black Flag, evidenced by the following passages: “Formed in 1977, Black Flag started from the most pared-down of existential stances—self as cell, body as cage—and then tried to blast their way to freedom. Greg Ginn, the group’s guitarist and leader, described what they did as modern blues” (382). “Postpunk isn’t really the right word for this music [Black Flag], not when that word refers to bands like PiL or Cabaret Voltaire. The SST bands were too rooted in the hard riffs and heavy rhythms of pre-punk rock. The term ‘progressive punk’ fits better. As they developed, the SST bands shook loose of hardcore’s stylistic straitjacket through exploring hybrid genres, writing longer songs, introducing elements of freeform jamming and extended solos, and recording instrumentals and even concept albums. Unlike the UK postpunk groups, though, the SST groups had almost no interest in the studio-as-instrument approach. Their innovations all took place within the context of the band as performing nit. Essentially live-in-the-studio documents, their records were made with staggering speed and cheapness.. Songs were typically captured in a single take, without overdubs or embellishments. Another SST hallmark was its groups’ unpunk belief in virtuosity. Black Flag set the tone here. Ginn was a sort of guitar anti-hero, specializing in strange stunted and mutilated solos. Propelled by a monstrous work ethic, Ginn drove Black Flag ‘like Patton on steroids,’ according to singer Henry Rollins, enforcing a punishing regime of daily practice sessions. ‘New redneck’ is the term Joe Carducci, the label’s head of marketing and promotion, invented to describe the SST sweat-hog ethos” (383). “1969, the year of the Sharon Tate murders and Altamont, was the foundation of Black Flag’s worldview. Musically, too, it was the ignition point for the group’s two biggest influences, Black Sabbath and the Stooges (whose ‘1969’ seemed to take perverse glee in the ‘war across the USA’). The germ of punk can be traced to that year. 1969 saw the death of the hippie dream. Unlike the other punk bands, though, Black Flag and its SST cohorts didn’t give up on hippie music (Ginn was a Grateful Dead diehard) or its musical concerns (progression, artistic growth, fusion, chops). They kept those pre-punk values and combined them with Black Sabbath songs like ‘War Pigs’ as much as the Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ (385). Meanwhile, Black Flag’s labelmates, Minutemen were more tuned into the postpunk UK: “Unlike Black Flag, who disdained the postpunk coming out of England, The Minutemen loved Wire’s compression (‘really small songs, no solos,’ says Watt), the Pop Group’s mashup of ‘Beefheart and Funkadelic,’ and The Fall’s half-sung/half-spoken rants. In classic postpunk fashion, the group conceieved of their sound as a democracy. Bass and drums were on equal footing with the guitar, which definitely wasn’t the lead instrument….The paradox of the Minutemen is that they’re a groove band but the songs are so short and delivered so fast that the effect isn’t exactly groovy, it’s more haywire—an uncontainable explosion of ideas, musical and lyrical” (387).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Evan Brown

    Simon Reynolds is one of the most critically acclaimed music journalists of the past decade and has found himself the authority on both 90′s electronic dance music and the post-punk movement of the late 70′s and early 80′s. If his 2006 release "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984" is mashed potatoes, it’s companion, "Totally Wired," is the gravy. In "Rip It Up" Reynolds documents six extremely exciting and important years in musical history that were previously unspoken for. As sugges Simon Reynolds is one of the most critically acclaimed music journalists of the past decade and has found himself the authority on both 90′s electronic dance music and the post-punk movement of the late 70′s and early 80′s. If his 2006 release "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984" is mashed potatoes, it’s companion, "Totally Wired," is the gravy. In "Rip It Up" Reynolds documents six extremely exciting and important years in musical history that were previously unspoken for. As suggested by the sub-title, the bulk of "Totally Wired" four years later is interviews with musicians, producers and icons. While doing research for "Rip It Up" Reynolds conducted numerous interviews; he culled the list down to the best thirty-two, and those with Jah Wobble (PiL, bassist), Alan Vega (Suicide, singer), David Thomas (Pere Ubu, singer and poignant yet jingoistic prick), David Byrne (Talking Heads, singer/guitarist), Lydia Lunch (Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, singer/guitarist), Steven Morris (Joy Division, drummer/New Order, drum programmer) and Paul Haig (Josef K, singer) are most captivating. There are some anecdotal redundancies with its preceding narrative treatment, but it is much more interesting to hear the stories straight from the post-punk horses’ mouths. To highlight the stories would spoil this read. Several of the artists are extremely well-spoken (and well-read!) and Reynolds is a talented and clearly well-researched interviewer. Aside from shedding light on countless personal backgrounds, band drama and musical/literary influences, "Totally Wired" also offers multiple sides to some post-punk coins, for instance producer Dennis Bovell’s approach and in-studio treatment of The Slits’ Ari Up and The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart. Reynolds packages the interviews in such a fashion that each story runs into the next with recurring characters, themes or scenes, creating a sense of cohesion unless he’s forcing a counterpoint. The last quarter of the book is dedicated to a handful of critical essays and Reynolds’ self-interview. The essays on topics including John Lydon and PiL, the two Joy Division movies of the 2000′s and art/concept rock are a bit lackluster. It isn’t that the subject matter itself is boring; instead the essays feel like term papers cut short which is a bit surprising considering Reynolds’ somewhat regular slips into verbosity in "Rip It Up." The self-interview is rather self-serving (go figure) and it could have been more compelling, but Reynolds does highlight some important concepts. First of all, he pays ample homage to those music journalists that came before him writing for publications like NME, Melody Maker and Sounds. The music industry has changed so much in the past three decades with the emergence of MTV, the internet and file sharing. Without the influential publications of the 70′s/80′s mentioned above and the likes of icons like Radio One DJ John Peel (also interviewed for the book), it would have been nearly impossible for anybody to discover these great bands. Another of Reynolds’ accomplishments in his self-interview is providing a logical connection between post-punk and New Pop, a concept that was glossed over in "Rip It Up." The musical edginess of post-punk bands like Gang of Four and Swell Maps sounds virtually nothing like New Pop’s ABC and Orange Juice, but Reynolds maintains that there is an aesthetic dovetailing. According to Reynolds, “pop” was never a “dirty word” in Great Britain, but rather a market to be infiltrated. The idea was to be as weird and challenging as one so chose and still hit the Top of the Pops. This message was garbled crossing the Atlantic, sublimating influential New Pop bands like The Human League into the realm of one-hit-wonderdom, sandwiched between American New Pop shlock. Other bands were simply transitioning and/or exploring, though sometimes viewed as selling out; think Joy Division’s shuffle to New Order after the death of leading man Ian Curtis or, as Reynolds would say, Scritti [Politti] Mark I and Scritti Mark II. * * * I would definitely recommend "Totally Wired;" however, I would first recommend reading "Rip It Up" and Start Again if unfamiliar with the post-punk scene for some frame of reference. After all, gravy isn’t much good unless you have something pour it over. With the possible exception of highly informed musicomaniacs that lived through the period covered, "Rip It Up" is the type of book that will introduce at least a half-dozen artists worth discovering. "Totally Wired" is meant to place those artists in a more personal, artistic and socio-political context. It could stand on its own, but it wouldn’t be nearly as amusing. If you liked this review, please visit my website at selfhatinghipster.com for more reviews on books, music and more!

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Parkinson

    I read and thoroughly enjoyed Reynolds earlier analysis of the post-punk music scene Rip it Up so this book (which Reynolds regards as a companion to that tome),really was a must read. The first half of the book is a collection of interviews with key players in the scene conducted years after the events themselves (Jah Wobble on the making of PIL's Metal Box, Green Gartside on the mutation of Scritti Politti from punk anarchists collective to polished pop machine and the list goes on, but not to I read and thoroughly enjoyed Reynolds earlier analysis of the post-punk music scene Rip it Up so this book (which Reynolds regards as a companion to that tome),really was a must read. The first half of the book is a collection of interviews with key players in the scene conducted years after the events themselves (Jah Wobble on the making of PIL's Metal Box, Green Gartside on the mutation of Scritti Politti from punk anarchists collective to polished pop machine and the list goes on, but not too much for this reader). These interviews apparently informed the Rip it up, and so the books definitely need to be read together to get the whole picture. The period covered is a key one in terms of my own musical development, both as a participant and listener, and Reynolds really catches the vibe of the times. As an "I was there" document its totally believable. The interviews are well conducted and Reynolds asks the right questions almost every time. I learned a lot and even obtained some useful listening recommendations for bands that had somehow passed me by (which says a lot about the sheer amount of quality music being made around that time, both in the uk and abroad. the second half of the book contains a number of essays where Reynolds assesses the drivers behind the approaches to music making that appeared during the period. I found this sections perhaps less engaging than the interviews themselves, but have to agree with pretty much all he has to say about the how the context (political, social etc.) helped shape the work of these really quite cutting edge creatives in the wake of the punk 'revolution'. This book also took me back to a time when the music press of the day (NME, Melody Maker and Sounds) were a provincial lifeline and contained a level of writing quality not exceeded (and in the main not reached) since. Reynolds is spot on about how rock music has probably used up it potential to innovate and how the post punk period represents the final authentic revolution for guitar based rock. Will probably now get hold of his writing on Hip Hop and Rap on the basis of his work in this book and its companion. Thoroughly recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    Not only did Simon Reynolds wrote the ultimate history of Post-Punk, but maybe the only one? Nevertheless "Totally Wired" is a perfect brother or sister to his "Rip It Up." Basically a collection of interviews with the key players of Post-Punk - all British except for David Thomas, Lydia Lunch, and the great James Chance/White. The subject matter of both books are interesting, but what makes it really shine is Reynolds intelligence and asking the right question to the right person. All interview Not only did Simon Reynolds wrote the ultimate history of Post-Punk, but maybe the only one? Nevertheless "Totally Wired" is a perfect brother or sister to his "Rip It Up." Basically a collection of interviews with the key players of Post-Punk - all British except for David Thomas, Lydia Lunch, and the great James Chance/White. The subject matter of both books are interesting, but what makes it really shine is Reynolds intelligence and asking the right question to the right person. All interviewees are superb, intelligent, the cloudy area of early 80's music is given much deserved focus. Meaning groups like Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd, Slits, etc. It was an exciting time for music because Punk opened up the door, but who did what and how once that door was opened is an interesting subject matter. For me as a listener it was a paradise of sorts with beautiful graphics and wonderful fashion. But beyond that was heavy thinking, heavy fun, and weird beautiful recordings. Post-Punk is a huge canvas and Reynolds does a good job in covering the major thinkers and stars and almost stars. I wished there was something on my favorite, Cowboys International, but alas, another book perhaps.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Wonder what Dennis Bovell thought of the Slits? (No?) Just can't get enough of Rip It Up & Start Again? If so, you should check this out. Wonder what Dennis Bovell thought of the Slits? (No?) Just can't get enough of Rip It Up & Start Again? If so, you should check this out.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    So, it took me a while to get through this. Honestly, I skimmed a lot of it. I appreciate this as a reference book for any punk/music collection, but since it’s a) an oral history; b) doesn’t cover my *favorite* parts of punk history; c) I’ve done a ton of other reading covering this section of music history; and d) some of the narrators are very full of themselves dudes, I found it to be a difficult through-read. But like I said, I stand by it as a reference book for any music person who skews So, it took me a while to get through this. Honestly, I skimmed a lot of it. I appreciate this as a reference book for any punk/music collection, but since it’s a) an oral history; b) doesn’t cover my *favorite* parts of punk history; c) I’ve done a ton of other reading covering this section of music history; and d) some of the narrators are very full of themselves dudes, I found it to be a difficult through-read. But like I said, I stand by it as a reference book for any music person who skews toward building a library of books on the topic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    Less impressive collection, but his love of the music shines through, and his scepticism about the more wanky post-punks helps considerably. David Byrne and Green Gartside come across particularly well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    AaronL

    Excellent companion piece to Rip It Up and Start Again, with a bunch of extra information that couldn't fit naturally into the narratives of the previous book. I wish every book I liked had an accompanying 'miscellaneous extras' follow-up like this for the super-nerds.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Javier Otaduy

    Great book for one who wants to understand the postpunk Era, only a little negative with new wave and techno pop great bands and their greatest influence...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Hebron

    'Totally Wired' takes the post-punk exploration of 'Rip It Up and Start Again' to new depths by seeking out the visionaries who shaped critical theory, literary references, radical politics, paranoia, defiance, joy, electronics, funk, and dub, into the most potent musical form to emerge in the west since Johnny Rotten stared down the audience like he wanted to be inside each of their heads and do something very unfortunate indeed. Musicians, label owners, producers, and broadcasters divulge the 'Totally Wired' takes the post-punk exploration of 'Rip It Up and Start Again' to new depths by seeking out the visionaries who shaped critical theory, literary references, radical politics, paranoia, defiance, joy, electronics, funk, and dub, into the most potent musical form to emerge in the west since Johnny Rotten stared down the audience like he wanted to be inside each of their heads and do something very unfortunate indeed. Musicians, label owners, producers, and broadcasters divulge the pathways, experiments, and personal histories that generated music unparalleled for its uncompromising modernity (or the tortured pseudo-modernism of New Pop). The transcripts of Reynolds' interviews are distilled down into their essence, very readable and as informative of the interviewees' character as of their feelings towards their music. For anyone interested in the individual bands or scenes the book is essential as some of the insights shine clear through the nonsense touted by hagiographers, or more perniciously, property developers (see Owen Hatherley's chapter on Manchester in his brilliant 'New Ruins of Great Britain', investigating the intersecting of neoliberal architecture and the misappropriation of the city's music history). Reynolds uses the interviews as raw material to inform and form his own (probably the definitive) take on the history of post-punk, the only regrets are that: a) despite probably heroic efforts, key figures like Mark E. Smith or Grace Jones are unavailable for comment, and b) interviews, if only briefly, with punk precursors like Eno or Bowie would have been enlightening, as their names return to haunt the narrative over and over again. Overall this is an excellent piece of work, clearly a work of dedication, well worth reading.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rog Harrison

    I saw this cheap so thought I'd buy it. I don't think I have read any other books by Simon Reynolds though I do have the CD "Rip it up". I have just had a look at the CD and I don't think I can have listened to it much because the names of the songs and indeed some of the bands did not seem familiar. This book consists of 343 pages of interviews and 80 pages of overviews. I enjoyed the interviews even though some of them were with people I had not heard of and even though some of the music and ba I saw this cheap so thought I'd buy it. I don't think I have read any other books by Simon Reynolds though I do have the CD "Rip it up". I have just had a look at the CD and I don't think I can have listened to it much because the names of the songs and indeed some of the bands did not seem familiar. This book consists of 343 pages of interviews and 80 pages of overviews. I enjoyed the interviews even though some of them were with people I had not heard of and even though some of the music and bands discussed I was not familiar with. Though to be fair I had heard of most of the bands even if I had not heard much of their music or even in some cases any of their music. I found the interviews compelling and once I had started I read them all in one sitting. I read the overviews this morning and was less engaged possibly because I had not even heard of some of the artists mentioned especially the ones from the USA. Still I did enjoy this and will certainly listen to the "Rip it up" CD again and will look out for the book too. Also at the same time I bought this book I also bought "Bring the noise" by the same author which is now in my pile of books to read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gaelan D'costa

    I can never fill myself with enough background information on the post-punk era. If you liked Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, this book is great. It contains probably no insight into a larger artistic process or greater truth, but like Rip It Up... it captures background and a list of bands to check out in a magical era of music that I love dearly. Whereas Rip It Up... was a series of curated paragraphs, the selections here are interviews, and often the content from one interview wi I can never fill myself with enough background information on the post-punk era. If you liked Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, this book is great. It contains probably no insight into a larger artistic process or greater truth, but like Rip It Up... it captures background and a list of bands to check out in a magical era of music that I love dearly. Whereas Rip It Up... was a series of curated paragraphs, the selections here are interviews, and often the content from one interview will connect with the subject of the next, suggesting a scene narrative even just by sequence. -- At the end of the book there is a "self-interview" of sorts by the author himself about what he feels about post-punk, which is fascinating and sometimes belies the sense one gets from the two books as a whole as he works out his own not-always-unified view on the era which he himself loves clearly and has looked over with a critical eye.

  13. 5 out of 5

    K.

    Jah Wobble - Music is an interesting interface between dark and light. With PiL there's a great darkness. It's like Blake's paintings: they're very dark, but there's a luminosity to the darkness. The darkness glows. Rather than pop music, which is major key, smile-smile-smile, or Shostakovich, which is sad and sombre, I like the in-between thing which you get with modal music or with impressionism. Light and dark diffusing; spirit meets matter. Alison Statton - I can remember being mesmerised by Jah Wobble - Music is an interesting interface between dark and light. With PiL there's a great darkness. It's like Blake's paintings: they're very dark, but there's a luminosity to the darkness. The darkness glows. Rather than pop music, which is major key, smile-smile-smile, or Shostakovich, which is sad and sombre, I like the in-between thing which you get with modal music or with impressionism. Light and dark diffusing; spirit meets matter. Alison Statton - I can remember being mesmerised by the church organ in the Scottish Presbyterian church on a Sunday, and can still hear the detail of a dropped hymn book echoing or a stifled cough when it stopped and silence fell once again . . . It's always been the points of sound in silence that get my attention most of all: the ticking of the clock and crackle of the fire in Mr Morgan's parlour, the rain on a window pane or an owl at night. Those are the sounds that have an exquisite intensity for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rod

    A fantastic companion volume to Rip it Up and Start Again, this is comprised almost entirely of interviews with the musicians and other figures who were the subject of the preceding book. Reynolds just presents these interviews in raw Q&A format, and lets the interview subjects speak for themselves, often very revealingly. Particularly interesting so far is the very irascible and wilfully difficult David Thomas of Pere Ubu. Has has some opinions that kind of make your head hurt, but he's no less A fantastic companion volume to Rip it Up and Start Again, this is comprised almost entirely of interviews with the musicians and other figures who were the subject of the preceding book. Reynolds just presents these interviews in raw Q&A format, and lets the interview subjects speak for themselves, often very revealingly. Particularly interesting so far is the very irascible and wilfully difficult David Thomas of Pere Ubu. Has has some opinions that kind of make your head hurt, but he's no less engaging for all that, although I wouldn't much like to have been the interviewer. The Reynolds essays and the interview were slightly disappointing, but the interviews with the musicians were excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    If you enjoyed "Rip It Up & Start Again," this is a collection of the raw (slightly edited) interviews that the book was made from. Also, a few overviews of topics that didn't make it into the book, most notably SST Records. And, in case you were wondering if Simon Reynolds is as self-absorbed as he seems, it ends with him interviewing...Simon Reynolds. For 24 pages. All that said, it's definitely recommended if you're interested in any of these musicians. Even some of the folks I didn't think I If you enjoyed "Rip It Up & Start Again," this is a collection of the raw (slightly edited) interviews that the book was made from. Also, a few overviews of topics that didn't make it into the book, most notably SST Records. And, in case you were wondering if Simon Reynolds is as self-absorbed as he seems, it ends with him interviewing...Simon Reynolds. For 24 pages. All that said, it's definitely recommended if you're interested in any of these musicians. Even some of the folks I didn't think I cared about (Steven Severin of Siouxsie & the Banshees; producer Martin Rushent; Ludus frontwoman Linder Sterling) turned out to be pretty thoughtful and interesting. Also, he and David Thomas have a bit of a heated debate about US vs. UK rock and roll that's well worth your time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gus Casals

    This superb book is essential reading, both as a companion to Rip it up and start again, Reynold's definite book on post punk, but also as a stand alone piece to understand from the creators themselves what was the intent during that creative pinnacle of the late seventies and early eighties. It´s also a great guide to a discovery of the music of the era, specially if you don´t have the comprehensive knowledge and record collection of Reynolds. I dare you to read it and not feel compelled to sound This superb book is essential reading, both as a companion to Rip it up and start again, Reynold's definite book on post punk, but also as a stand alone piece to understand from the creators themselves what was the intent during that creative pinnacle of the late seventies and early eighties. It´s also a great guide to a discovery of the music of the era, specially if you don´t have the comprehensive knowledge and record collection of Reynolds. I dare you to read it and not feel compelled to soundtrack it (or to watch some videos, pick up some old copies of the NME or watch for the upteenth time 24 hour party people or Control).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Oscar

    The companion book to Rip it Up and Start Again, also by Simon Reynolds, containing a bunch of the source interviews conducted while researching it as well as some additional essays and articles on the same subject. The interviews themselves - comprising the meat of the book - are with a mixture of musicians, producers, label heads and journalists. Examples would be Jah Wobble and Richard H. Kirk, Dennis Bovell and Martin Rushent, Tony Wilson and Trevor Horn as well as Paul Morley and John Peel. I The companion book to Rip it Up and Start Again, also by Simon Reynolds, containing a bunch of the source interviews conducted while researching it as well as some additional essays and articles on the same subject. The interviews themselves - comprising the meat of the book - are with a mixture of musicians, producers, label heads and journalists. Examples would be Jah Wobble and Richard H. Kirk, Dennis Bovell and Martin Rushent, Tony Wilson and Trevor Horn as well as Paul Morley and John Peel. If Rip it Up was your thing, this will be required reading. If not, it might just be more of the same, unfortunately. To each his own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eve Kay

    I'm not a genre specialist, but I know a thing or do and am in a relationship with someone who is very genre-savvy. Hence, I hear a lot about what is post-punk and what is not. I'm not saying Reynolds doesn't know their stuff, I'm just saying in my view, some of these bands shouldn't be here.It did honestly feel like I was reading about (my) music from a perspective of someone who did not share my enthusiasm. And it was missing some of the big ones (for me). Just sayin'.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Jackson

    Excellent volume of interviews with post-punk luminaries including David Byrne, Ari Up, Lydia Lunch, Alan Vega, Jah Wobble, Mark Stewart, Andy Gill, Gina Birch of the Raincoats, Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, and more. It serves as a companion to Reynold's essential "Rip It Up and Start Again," so you'll want to start there for the full post-punk story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A good companion book to the same author's better "Rip it up & start again". This has longer interviews with some of the key people, but less analysis. Alan Vega, Phil Oakey and Edwyn Collins shine, as does Steven Daly. The book is somewhat encumbered by several reviews of related books and films tacked on at the end, all in "Director's Cut" format A good companion book to the same author's better "Rip it up & start again". This has longer interviews with some of the key people, but less analysis. Alan Vega, Phil Oakey and Edwyn Collins shine, as does Steven Daly. The book is somewhat encumbered by several reviews of related books and films tacked on at the end, all in "Director's Cut" format

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gregarious cline

    Having read this and the "prequel" Rip it Up..., I'm going to try and read everything Simon Reynolds has written. Amazing form and pacing and insights and interviews and and and ...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Oscar

    An even better better companion to rip it up in a that reynolds appears as less intrusive.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  24. 4 out of 5

    Droydicus Malojan

  25. 5 out of 5

    blair corbett

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  27. 4 out of 5

    Phil Brett

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alfonso

  29. 4 out of 5

    Arris Roordink

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian Carney

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