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The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-1993 Paperback – 15 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (15 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057123271X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571232710
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'The Dark Stuff is a mighty tome, containing some of the best music journalism ever written." Spectator

Book Description

The Dark Stuff, by Nick Kent, is a seminal collection of rock journalism, updated with new material.

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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
The Dark Stuff was first published in Britain in 1994 and always available in the USA since its 1996 publication. In the UK the book had been out-of-print for eight years until the 2007 edition appeared. Compiled from 1970s interviews for the New Musical Express plus 1980s magazine articles, this new edition includes the essays Sly Stone's Evil Ways & Phil Spector's Long Fall From Grace, a portrait of French pop icon Serge Gainsbourg, a recent interview with Iggy Pop and a concluding essay titled Self-destruction in Rock and Elsewhere. All in all twenty-two of the most talented and self-destructive artists in rock history are profiled.

Kent was the New Musical Express's star attraction in the 1970s at a time when the publication was selling 300,000 copies per week. It was at the forefront of reporting on the punk explosion, punk personalities, the style and its offshoots. The NME's influential position gave Kent unique opportunities as a rock writer. Kent may be older & wiser but there's something to be said for the energy and enthusiasm of youth, since the recent stuff amongst the new additions is less gripping than the original writings from the 70s and 80s for NME and magazines like The Face, Arena and Spin.

The value of each chapter is directly proportional to the communication skills of those interviewed: that is why the Guns 'N' Roses piece is a complete waste of time and paper and shouldn't even have been included, whilst I loved the Roy Orbison interview although I've never really been into his music. I found the Brian Wilson piece too long and disagree with the author's assessment of the Rolling Stones after the 1960s.
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of journalistic pieces for those like myself (and no doubt many others) with a voyeuristic interest in the self-destructive lives of rock'n'roll. Written by Nick Kent over the decades, it provides an interesting insight into the tortured lives, dysfunction and general unpleasantness of many key figures of popular music.

Such lives tend to be littered with self-destruction and the concept of rock and roll may indeed be defined by variable degrees of self-destruction and "dark stuff". Nick Kent's book title therefore is somewhat misleading, suggesting that he is covering new ground where others have covered the "light stuff". However, although much of this biographical information is in the public domain without the help of Kent's writing, the latter is funny and natural in a way that many other writers' self-conscious lean towards sarcasm and meaningless criticism is not. Kent often provides a fresh and less air-brushed perspective on certain icons that seem to be generally untouchable, in what might be considered rock blasphemy, for example his darker and less forgiving take on Kurt Cobain, and this de-glamourisation of cult heroes might be what he refers to as the dark stuff.

This is not more than a collection of previously published magazine interviews/ articles and so there may be much you've read about before, however this is nevertheless an interesting and well-written collection of rock biography that is well worth a read.
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The first half of this book concerns itself with those who, either by dint of their essential personality or by succumbing to drink and (especially) drugs, died at a very young age or simply never recovered from the trials of their psychological damage. So we get insights into the likes of Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett, Johnny Thunders, Jerry Lee Lewis and Brain Jones.
The book then covers those artists who survived against all the odds such as Iggy Pop (who gets numerous articles), Keith Richards, Shane McGowan, Neil Young and Lou Reed.
Finally we get some insights into a few angry young men (no women appear at all) such as Morrissey and Elvis Costello.
The author is well placed to write these stories by virtue of both being present and partaking of various substances himself - although he seemed more often than not to know when to stop!
There are some depressing traits that all the above seem to have in common such as anger, incredible levels of irresponsibility (to themselves and others), self-hate and a real drive to prove the world wrong. I would have really liked Kent to have offered the reader some insights as to whether or not he thought these ubiquitous traits were necessary in the creation of the music. Indeed, the weakness in this book is that Nick Kent doesn't seem to offer any judgements about any of the appalling events covered in this book - although I can see that some people may see that as a strength.
Having said that, this is probably as good a book about the dark side of rock and roll as we are likely to get.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 70s VINE VOICE on 26 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well observed and taughtly written this book will be of interest to all music lovers. Stories of the great and not so great woven into a series of articles that lift the stone and look underneath. Private moments and an insight into the mind of folks like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, are fascinating. I casn heartily recommend this book
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