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This is Uncool: The 500 Greatest Singles since Punk and Disco [Paperback]

Garry Mulholland
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Oct 2003
In what amounts to a history of the last twenty-five years of popular music, respected music journalist Garry Mulholland has compiled a list of the 500 greatest singles since The Sex Pistols' seminal "Anarchy in the UK". In incisive, outspoken and informative essays, Mulholland challenges the accepted standpoint of music journalism to produce an entertaining, nostalgic and provocative read. Incidentally, the title comes from a 1977 entry in the book by the Rezillos.

Product details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell Illustrated (15 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844031055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844031054
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The vast majority of the singles and artists in this book were brave enough to break out of cool's stultifying grip, and reshape style, language and/or performance in their image.' Garry Mulholland

About the Author

Garry Mulholland is a well-known and well-respected music journalist and has written for many of the popular music publications; he is currently writing for one of the most authoritative, Mojo, and for The Guardian, as well as acting as a Contributing Editor to Time Out.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Cool 5 Oct 2002
Pop lists and polls seem very much ten a penny in the post-High Fidelity music press. Their frequency is understandable. Like the best pop, they're fun and provocative (and so this book is). And in the absence of more imaginative editorial, lists are a safe sell (and so this book is).
But as you flick through the glossy opening pages, and throughout, with their beautifully reproduced images of treasured singles from the past twenty-five years or so, it's clear this is something special.
Mullholland succeeds because he recognises his subject for what it is, writing with a personal passion, perfectly capturing why cheap music is potent, and why, if it is potent enough, it isn't cheap after all.
The implicit attempt in many lists to objectify, analyse, relativise and proselytise is refreshingly absent. Sure, Mullholland doesn't ignore the context, and this is important (singles are listed chronologically, with each year introduced with a neat reminder of events past), but "This Is Uncool" is at it's best when closer to biography than history. The beginning of his story behind the inclusion of Public Enemy's "Rebel Without A Pause" is illustrative: "Brixton High Road was clammy and chaotic as I walked up to the traffic lights..."
His honesty then, (especially in the carefully considered introduction, "where was my version of the story?"), is perhaps the core of what makes this such a delight.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you really agree with the selections - a love of punk, post-punk and indie rock predominates, but Mullholland is equally enlightened enough to give rap, disco and Whigfield their due.
Rather, at the end of the day, it just matters whether you are inspired or not to rediscover the darker recesses of your own music collection, to remember and relive the magic you may not have thought was necessarily always there, but almost certainly is.
This book inspires. This Is Cool.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 something's rejoice 9 Sep 2002
oh my oh my.....it's as if the author ransacked my (long since sold) record collection and then entered the dark recesses of my mind to gather the info for this book
it's just fantastic, beautiful photography of the records (complete with dog eared sleeves) poingniant memories of school discos and cider-fuelled parties fall from every page
if you bought that enormous "punk" coffee table book last year, then you simply MUST have this, if only to stop and wonder at the fantastic music that was produced during the much maligned early 80's (associates/abc/grandmaster flash/specials)...
a stunning labout of love (well, actually, i doubt it WAS a labour somehow..morelike a joy)
mike dutton
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music done justice 25 Jan 2004
Well, you're thinking, most people could write a book like this, so why should I buy this guy's? Well, because in fact very few people could write a book like this: Mulholland's prose is brilliant. Each review is a short burst of genuine excitement that the reader can really feel. And he knows his onions: he's listened to hundreds of thousands of records (and bought a fair few!) in his various music-related jobs. So, even though his tastes differ from mine (and I'd say mine are much uncooler than his!), and I disagree with him here and there, I can see where he's coming from and I can go along with what he's saying. If you grew up with the music of the last 25 years you'll love trawling through this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The last thing we need is another shuffle of the blessed rock canon list. You know, the worthy and dull albums you're supposed to be in awe of but only bought because of critical hype and rarely play. This is a desperately needed antidote to all that rockist tedium. Firstly, the author is choosing singles over the sacred album... heresy, but all the more fabulous for it. Secondly, he has the nerve to really mix it up and his choices will have rock snobs frothing at the mouth. Disco, Madonna, house hits, soul, synthpop, even the Spice Girls all rub shoulders with the more 'credible' stuff. The choices are admirably catholic, much like an issue of the old NME, which is no surprise given that Mulholland was on their payroll in its heyday (long before it became a lamentable comic for 14 year old indie boys). Mulholland fully gets what pop is about - it's that 3 minute gem that grabs you coming from a builder's transistor radio, fairground ride, or youth club disco.
It's hard to fault the man's choices (although his love for hip hop is where we part company and he does get a bit tedious banging on about race). But his writing is very persuasive and well-researched. You think you know these songs but I'll guarantee you'll know them better after reading this book. It's all here, close to three decades of fads, fashions, thrills and, yes, art. From those glorious pop groups (ABBA, Blondie, Pet Shop Boys, the Smiths) to hipster classics, Garry Mulholland's selection of 500 great singles is a 'must have' reference book for any self-respecting music lover. This is beyond cool.
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