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Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of COUM Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle: The Story of Coum Transmissions and "Throbbing Gristle" Paperback – 27 Feb 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog Publishing Ltd (27 Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901033600
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901033601
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 773,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 2000
Format: Paperback
An entertaining discourse on contemporary art history & "underground" music which pushes back the boundaries of critique, biography and reportage in much the same way as Coum & TG challenged the borders of taste, respectability and technical & musical possibility. A mine of information/disinformation which will educate the uninitiated and extend the database of the already informed. An engaging read and a real treat.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Barrie on 3 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent account of where music meets art, rather than Manahlos and Red Tags, the story of a bunch of worried, art-conscious drifters from Hull who sought expressionism in music. Great illustrations. Compellingly straight-forward writing. The book's only weakness is that the story of COUM is so well told that you're left wanting more on the Fortress years of TG and the moment the wheels came off the P-Orridge cart.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nightchill@cableinet.co.uk on 19 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
i am into surrealist art and when reading a record collector one day the band throbbing gristle were being interviewed this made me seek out some info on this underground band and this book says it all fantastic brilliant keeps you reading for hours
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Very good overview of TG/Coum 25 Nov. 2002
By JRBruun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It took me all of 1999 to get hold of this book, and finally amazon.com sold me a slightly damaged copy for $32. People are waiting for a second printing and/or a US edition. The cover looks cheap, white with a cut-out and rearranged photo of TG members from the «20 Jazz Funk Greats» album cover. But that's about the only negative thing I could say about the book. This will stand as the definitive work on the subject for a LONG time. It's incredibly thorough, and with many picures and illustrations never or rarely seen before, including many photos of the pre-TG hippie version of Genesis P-Orridge. It tells the full story from GPO's birth in 1950 up to the split of TG in 1981.
While TG has been the subject of quite a lot of writing before, in two of the RE/Search books and many music mags, the performance art COUM period has had very little attention and critique. This is fully rectified here. When TG put out their first LP, you're more than halfway thru the book. Ford's unfolding chronological work is strong on both personal biographical detail and assessment of COUM/TG's place in art history.
I see TG/GPO as much stronger conceptualists than actual artists, much like their mentor William Burroughs. But as such, they have wielded an extremely strong influence on others, and sown the seeds of whole new genres of art and music. The unorthodox use of synths, «industrial» noise and cut-ups are now commonplace, while in the 70's it could cause riots when presented to an audience most used to the popular music of the time.
The COUM group's extreme use of bodily fluids and food in performance could be viewed as a continuation of the ground-breaking work of people like Hermann Nitsch and Otto Mühl. Coum did some far out stuff, but were in my opinion not as much pioneers in their field as TG was. But the scandalous 1976 «Prostitution» show at the ICA in London must have been a lot of fun. Backed by tax-payers' money, Cosey Fanni Tutti tore out nude pics of herself from men's magazines she had posed in, and presented them as art. If it's in a gallery, it must be art, right? Not quite. The exhibition created a massive moral outrage.
For record-collecting geeks, a full discography listing ALL releases (official, semi-official and bootlegs) is included in the back of the book, but in the book itself only the recordings released while TG was active are discussed. Which is a perfectly valid decision, as these are the original «manifestos» authorized by all TG members.
An indispensable book for anyone with an interest in 20th century art and music history.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Another Story 16 July 2001
By Foxtrot Echo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having been a member of COUM TRANSMISSIONS from 1971 to 1976 I must say that Simon Ford has done a commendable job in his overview of the work of COUM and TG.I have corresponded with the author and he recognises that there still remains more to be told.There certainly is much about performances and first hand experiences that needs to be added.Hopefully in a subsequent edition ,or in a new contribution by another author, this will be addressed. Another reviewer asked the question "what became of Foxtrot Echo and Fizzy Paet?".We are alive and well and living lateraly,as allways, in England.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Industrial music's origin finally explained perfectly 26 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Simon Ford interviewed Genesis P-Orridge, Chiris and Cosey and Sleazy at length over 3 years. For the very first time ever the actual origin of the musical genre that has since spawned Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM and a host of other Industrial bands is explained. It is hard for us in 1999 to realise that until Genesis P-Orridge and Monte Cazazza invented the words Industrial Music to describe their radical new ideas on how popular music could sound, there was NO such thing as Industrial music. Simon Ford puts all this in perspective. From Genesis' birth in Manchester, to his explorations in late 60's Swinging London, to government sponsored art shows in Milan with Gilbert and George through the formation of TG and on until their demise in 1981. It is a great read. Almost like a detective novel, or acheological mystery. It is hard to imagine a world of music without having had Throbbing Gristle fanatically propose Industrial Music as a concept, an aesthetic and a way of life. We'd have no depeche Mode, (good!) and no techno, no so much that it boggles the mind. Yet they are still seen as a "cult group". Finally this book put Genesis P-Orridge in particular, and Throbbing Gristle and COUM the sexual performance action group rightfully at center stage in our art and rock music history. Bravo to Simon Ford. This book is so essential you can't imagine. It is about an entire FORM of music being invented as it happened. That is like being in the delta when the first blues music was played. it's that vital to knowing your own youth culture and understanding how the media are affected by radical change in the arts and minds of a generation.
Bryin Dall
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Essential Reading 17 Jun. 2001
By kk33deg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Anybody interested in truly subversive music / art / anti-art needs to read this. This obsessively documented and well written tome lays out the attempts by Coum Transmissions / Throbbing Gristle to wreck civilization, and for good reason. Dadaists P-Orridge, Tutti, Sleazy and Carter meet in post industrial collapsed welfare state Britain and decide that things must be changed or at least destroyed and set about to do so. Musically influenced by the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, 50-Foot Hose, Nico and a number of other artistes you've never heard of, t/g created the soundtrack for industrial society's post-mortem. On the surface apolitical, t/g was severely antiauthoritarian on all levels, deconstructing the 20th century while advocating a true revolution of the cortex, where everyone would be free to think for themselves without the restraints of normality or even sanity. Simon Ford does a very good job of putting t/g in context, and reminding us blase 21st century dwellers just how provoking they were. These four people shook the art and music world, and the reverberations affect people who've never heard of them, let alone the many that have heard of but never heard them. Read this while listening to "Second Annual Report", "Special Treatment", "Rafters" and "D.O.A." Can the world be as sad as it seems? Don't worry, t/g is long gone and civilization is safe.
Industrial Pioneers 26 Jan. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Can I just say that the constant linking of Throbbing Gristle to modern day "industrial" acts is totally fallacious. TG have nothing to do with these groups, the only possible link is in the use of loud aggressive electronic music (which was only a part of TG's oeuvre) - but then Faust (even Hawkwind!) were doing that schtick long before TG. True, TG did coin the phrase, "Industrial Music For Industrial People" -but with a socio-political/ cultural intent and meaning far beyond the ken of a bunch of spoilt American middle class kids trying to shock their "moms". Read the book.
Speaking of the book. Looks great and is generally very well researched and highly recommended. For me, the COUM Transmissions part was the most interesting 'cos the least documented - even so it would have been interesting to hear from other COUM participants such as Fizzy Paet and Foxtrot Echo, also to find out what these people are doing now. The TG part told few stories that I hadn't heard before but did confirm that, sometime around 1979-1980, Genesis P-Orridge seriously lost the plot: I'm afraid the comments on Hitler and Nazism from this period are ill-informed, naive and plain stupid - not worthy of a man who, I have on good authority, is actually an extremely nice person. All in all, I was left feeling rather sorry for Gen, who seems a bit too artistic and sensitive for this nasty old world of ours.
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