Monday, August 19, 2013
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.