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England's Dreaming [Paperback]

Jon Savage
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

19 May 2005

Jon Savage's Ralph Gleason Award-winning England's Dreaming is the ultimate book on punk, its progenitors, the Sex Pistols, and their time: the late 1970s. Full of anedcote, insight, and exclusive interviews, it tells the sensational story of the meteoric rise and rapid decline of the last great rock'n'roll band and the cultural moment they came to define.

The critical reputation of England's Dreaming has grown over the past decade and a half. This updated edition includes an introduction focusing on the legacy of punk twenty-five years on, an account of the Sex Pistols 1996 reunion, and a comprehensively updated discography.

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England's Dreaming + Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
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Product details

  • Paperback: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Later Edition edition (19 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571227201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571227204
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"'A monumental survey of punk... a good claim to be the definitive work on the definitive work on the subject.' The Times" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jon Savage is the author of England's Dreaming: Sex pistols and Punk Rock and Teenage: The Creation of Youth, 1875 - 1945. He has written sleevesnotes for Wire, St. Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys, among others, and his compilations include: Meridian 1970 (Heavenly/EMI 2005); Queer Noises: From the Closest to the Charts 1961 - 1976 (Trikont 2006); and Dreams Come True: Classic Electro 1982-87 (Domino 2008).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If, like me, you missed the first wave of punk (hey, I was only born in 1973!), but fell in love with the music later, you gotta read this book.
Savage tells the tale of English punk (with some reference to what was happening in the USA, but as the title says, this is _England's_ Dreaming), starting from the backgrounds of those involved, through to the end of the 70's, after the collapse of the Sex Pistols and the death of Sid Vicious.
As you might guess from the title (which is of course from a line in the Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen"), it is the Sex Pistols that are the primary focus of all this. But there's plenty here about The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, and plenty of less famous but essential bands, like The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Siouxsie & The Banshees, etc. And I should add that there is an extensive index with discographies of many, many groups.
I'm not sure exactly what Jon Savage was doing at this time, but he was certainly there and involved. He even appears in one of the photos in the book (police herding punks off the boat after the infamous Jubilee cruise down the Thames, if I recall rightly). His recollections and interviews are interspersed with snippets from his diary from the time. This really is a vivid account, and one that made me curse all the more loudly that I missed the action.
One warning - I thought there was far, far too much about Malcolm McLaren's pre-Pistols activities at the start of the book. This was boring. But fight through it, or skip ahead, you'll really miss out if you get bored and quit in the first couple of chapters.
Also, after reading this book, try to check out Julien Temple's film "The Filth And The Fury" - you'll see footage of a lot of the events described herein.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the Bible of English Punk Rock 17 April 2011
This book deserves every one of the accolades it was awarded at the time. It is a meticulously researched and lucidly written account of the genesis, development and ultimate demise of the late 70s "punk rock" movement spearheaded by The Sex Pistols, a group of working class urchins from London, and their street hustler manager Malcolm McLaren. The casual reader will be more interested in the narratives dealing with McLaren's activities on the avant garde fringe of the sex fetish/fashion industry and the Pistols' rise from a bunch of talentless roughnecks hanging around London's pub rock scene to global notoriety as purveyors of snarling 2 chord nihilism, social antagonism and aggression.
Savage presents near definitive accounts of the early bust ups with law enforcement, the Bill Grundy show expletives episode (which made the Pistols tabloid fodder for the next 2 years), EMI's dumping of the band (which actually hurt the company more than the band), the controversy over "God Save The Queen" (the true No 1 record in the country during Jubilee week in 1977), the chaotic tours, mutual loathing of John Lydon and McLaren and the demise of Sid Vicious from a vulnerable, impressionable teenager to a self-destructive manic depressive hooked for life on hard drugs to the extent that one morning in October 1978 he finds himself charged with knifing his junkie girlfriend in the stomach after a row about their latest smack deal.
However, I was most interested in Savage's eloquent passages about the historical and cultural context of the Pistols and punk rock generally. Early in the book he talks about how post-war mass consumer enfranchisement was exposed as a sham by the 1970s and how the country's social life had degenerated into warring factions. This was the cradle where punk was born.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars England's Wakening 18 July 2006
'England's Dreaming - Sex Pistols and Punk Rock' by Jon Savage is first and foremost a story about the formation of the Sex Pistols. The book starts with a young and ambitious Malcolm Mclaren - inspired by the Parisian student revolts of 1968 - and Vivienne Westwood who, together with Mclaren, created the 'Sex' shop which provided the backdrop to the formation of the Sex Pistols and delivered the aesthetic which symbolised and communicated most directly what punk stood for. A story which, in this case, ends in effect with the predictable demise of Sid Vicious, who in the end came to symbolise more than anything else what Punk Rock meant in the eyes of the mainstream (and to paraphrase Shakespeare) 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

The greatness of this book is that while ostensibly this is a book about the Sex Pistols (and it is) it is much more than that. As someone born in 1980 it is easy to forget that Britain in the 1970s was such a Politicised place, today apathy rules ok, but thirty years ago things were different. The Post War consensus was crumbling, the age of Thatcherism was dawning, the promise of full employment was exposed as a lie as unemployment figures grew, the once proud ruler of most of the worlds surface had to go with begging bowl to the IMF for a loan, union power was rampant, strikes ubiqutious, the far right increasingly evident and, in the words of Savage 'political and social (even behavioural) extremism seemed very attractive as a way out of this impasse.' In other words the time was ripe for Punk.

The history of the Sex Pistols in the 1970s is the history of the U.K in the 1970s, this is what Savage conveys, Punk grew in fertile soil. The word most used in this book is NIHILISM.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars received, many thanks ++++:
received, many thanks ++++ :-)
Published 27 days ago by mandy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read
Published 1 month ago by Samuel Renwick
2.0 out of 5 stars Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
I wanted to like this I really did. Its subject is obviously a fascinating and epoch-making story and being a music journalist at the time the author was, at least to some extent,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lewis Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars England's Dreaming
Great book up to now will get even better anyone who has an interest in England's culture and music from late 60's to the 80's a must read
You know it makes sense cheers... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul Messham
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about Punk
Excellent service via Amazon-Thankyou.Read this book several times when it was first published.My favourite book on Punk and I've read a few. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. Lea
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb behind the scenes account
Read this on hols and can remember the events as if it were yesterday. Jon Savage's brilliant behind the scenes account of the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols (and other related... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kevin W Richardson
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay..ish
Strange book, I got bored 3/4 through and it took me about a year to finish, well I think I finished it, Im still undecided whether I enjoyed it or not... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Steve
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book about the history of the pistols.
Very well written with lots of information that covers everything that happened from the very first to the very last day of there life's together.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. W. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of its genre
A very well written book. Mr Savage is meticulously thorough & his attention detail is faultless. Highly recommended for those that lived through the punk or those that wish to... Read more
Published 17 months ago by P. Woodwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!
Excellent book, well written, informative and plenty to get you feeling like you've been transported back to the 70's. Great for anyone interested in the punk explosion!
Published 22 months ago by Zulu Welshboy
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