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Explores the inventive and innovative music created in the years following the heyday of punk, looking at the contributions of such bands as Talking Heads, Devo, Joy Division, and Gang of Four to the evolution of modern music.
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 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.
'A fantastic tribute to an amazingly creative musical period . . . An instant pop classic, worthy of a place on your shelves beside the handful of music books that really matter.' John McTernan, Scotland on Sunday Punk revitalized rock in the mid-seventies, but the movement soon degenerated into self-parody. Rip It Up and Start Again is the first book-length celebration of what happened next: post-punk bands who dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution. 1978 - 1984 rivals the sixties for the sheer amount of fabulous music created, the spirit of adventure and possibility that infused it, and the way the sounds felt inextricably connected to the political and social turbulence of the day. Simon Reynolds, acclaimed author of Energy Flash, recreates a time of tremendous urgency and idealism in pop music. Packed with anecdote and insight, populated by charismatic and maverick characters, Rip It Up and Start Again stands as one of the most inspired and inspiring books on popular music ever written. 'I had never expected there to be a book on this subject; had I done so, I would never have dared to hope it could be as good as this.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Book of the Week 'This remarkable and perfectly timed cultural history is required reading.' Q Magazine
With his critically acclaimed Rip It Up and Start Again, renowned music journalist Simon Reynolds applied a unique understanding to an entire generation of musicians working in the wake of punk rock. Spawning artists as singular as Talking Heads, Joy Division, The Specials, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gang of Four, and Devo, postpunk achieved new relevance in the first decade of the twenty-first century through its profound influence on bands such as Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand, and Vampire Weekend. With Totally Wired the conversation continues. The book features thirty-two interviews with postpunk’s most innovative personalities—such as Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, and Lydia Lunch—alongside an “overview” section of further reflections from Reynolds on postpunk’s key icons and crucial scenes. Included among them are John Lydon and PIL, Ian Curtis and Joy Division, and art-school conceptualists and proto-postpunkers Brian Eno and Malcolm McLaren. Reynolds follows these exceptional, often eccentric characters from their beginnings through the highs and lows of postpunk’s heyday. Crackling with argument and anecdote, Totally Wired paints a vivid portrait of individuals struggling against the odds to make their world as interesting as possible, in the process leaving a legacy of artistic ambition and provocation that reverberates to this day.
One of The Telegraph's Best Music Books 2011 We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration. Band re-formations and reunion tours, expanded reissues of classic albums and outtake-crammed box sets, remakes and sequels, tribute albums and mash-ups . . . But what happens when we run out of past? Are we heading toward a sort of culturalecological catastrophe where the archival stream of pop history has been exhausted? Simon Reynolds, one of the finest music writers of his generation, argues that we have indeed reached a tipping point, and that although earlier eras had their own obsessions with antiquity—the Renaissance with its admiration for Roman and Greek classicism, the Gothic movement's invocations of medievalism—never has there been a society so obsessed with the cultural artifacts of its own immediate past. Retromania is the first book to examine the retro industry and ask the question: Is this retromania a death knell for any originality and distinctiveness of our own?
Bring the Noise weaves together interviews, reviews, essays, and features to create a critical history of the last twenty years of pop culture, juxtaposing the voices of many of rock and hip hop’s most provocative artists—Morrissey, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, The Stone Roses, P.J. Harvey, Radiohead—with Reynolds’s own passionate analysis. With all the energy and insight you would expect from the author of Rip It Up and Start Again, Bring the Noise tracks the alternately fraught and fertile relationship between white bohemia and black street music. The selections transmit the immediacy of their moment while offering a running commentary on the broader enduring questions of race and resistance, multiculturalism, and division. From grunge to grime, from Madchester to the Dirty South, Bring the Noise chronicles hip hop and alternative rock’s competing claims to be the cutting edge of innovation and the voice of opposition in an era of conservative backlash. Alert to both the vivid detail and the big picture, Simon Reynolds has shaped a compelling narrative that cuts across a thrillingly turbulent two-decade period of pop music.
NPR Great Read of 2016 From the acclaimed author of Rip It Up and Start Again and Retromania—“the foremost popular music critic of this era (Times Literary Supplement)—comes the definitive cultural history of glam and glitter rock, celebrating its outlandish fashion and outrageous stars, including David Bowie and Alice Cooper, and tracking its vibrant legacy in contemporary pop. Spearheaded by David Bowie, Alice Cooper, T. Rex, and Roxy Music, glam rock reveled in artifice and spectacle. Reacting against the hairy, denim-clad rock bands of the late Sixties, glam was the first true teenage rampage of the new decade. In Shock and Awe, Simon Reynolds takes you on a wild cultural tour through the early Seventies, a period packed with glitzy costumes and alien make-up, thrilling music and larger-than-life personas. Shock and Awe offers a fresh, in-depth look at the glam and glitter phenomenon, placing it the wider Seventies context of social upheaval and political disillusion. It explores how artists like Lou Reed, New York Dolls, and Queen broke with the hippie generation, celebrating illusion and artifice over truth and authenticity. Probing the genre’s major themes—stardom, androgyny, image, decadence, fandom, apocalypse—Reynolds tracks glam’s legacy as it unfolded in subsequent decades, from Eighties art-pop icons like Kate Bush through to twenty-first century idols of outrage such as Lady Gaga. Shock and Awe shows how the original glam artists’ obsessions with fame, extreme fashion, and theatrical excess continue to reverberate through contemporary pop culture.

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