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Fear of Music: The Greatest 261 Albums Since Punk and Disco Paperback – 15 Nov 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (15 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752882430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752882437
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 17.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 884,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Companion volume to the hugely popular This is Uncool in which Garry Mulholland moves from singles to albums

About the Author

As well as being the author of This is Uncool: The Greatest 500 Singles Since Punk and Disco, Garry Mulholland has contributed frequently to the Guardian and Time Out. He currently writes for the Observer Music Monthly and Q magazine.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "1984" Orwell said: Whoever controls the past controls the future; whoever controls the present, controls the past. Nowhere is that more true than in 'rock criticism', where a canon of 'greats' has been established over the last quarter century, which is practically 'thought crime' to challenge. Garry Mulholland, first in his celebration of the single "This Is Uncool", and now in its companion volume dedicated to the album, is our own musical Winston Smith, daring to question the rockist Big Brother. Citizen Mulholland dares to think the unthinkable. He is an equal opportunities music lover; pop is as valid as rock, women as lauded as men, gay artists are welcome and 'greatest hits' collections are rightly prized as essential. Mercifully the book starts in 1976, neatly avoiding the need to engage with hoary rock dinosaurs of that decade or the all too familiar 'classics' of the Sixties. As with his singles book the author falls under the spell of rap and hip hop as the 80s end, which, along with the increasing underground and obscure albums chosen for the last ten years of 'Fear of Music', gives the impression of a degree of scraping the bottom of the barrell...either that or an apparent dearth of quality music to be found in the mainstream. Or, whisper it, maybe standards in popular music were just higher in the 70s and 80s.
"Fear of Music" is a great read but also a useful catch-up guide for those who missed out on these albums first time round. With his generous, open-minded tastes Mulholland is the best guide you could wish for. No, there's no Radiohead's "OK Computer" or "Kid A", no "Loveless" by My Bloody Valentine", no Guns & Roses or Metallica. And, yes, he picks three Pet Shop Boys albums and no Nirvana. That is precisely the point he is making. And it sounds good to me. Double plus good, in fact.
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Format: Paperback
I got this for a trade with my mate and decided to read it first.
Its the usual self opinonated codswallop by an author who can hardly write a paragraph without some kind of foul language.Apparantly this plonker is some sort of Born Again Police/Sting fan by his own admission-after 25 years of hating them he suddenly had a conversion.Big deal-I'd have kept quiet over that one
After glancing though the book I didn't somehow think this person is going to nominate anything by an ex Beatle or anything by Loreena McKennit.I think I may have less than 10 of his nominations not that my collecting bears any resemblance to what these rock critic people say you should own
What we have here is basically his tastes and they are nothing to do with folk music or tweepop.
And nothing to do with mine either-this is a book of self indulgency enough to put you off music
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book, precise and fun. Well worth your money. He hits 70% of the right albums with only Few turkeys
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic--great pictures.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91e1345c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91e1b7e0) out of 5 stars One critic's defense of his favorites 29 Dec. 2011
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This starts with the Ramones' debut and halts with 2003. 261 ensures no criterion except what matters to the author. This type of willful individualism makes this attempt to make talking about music fun again; as he warns in the preface, "Critics turned jazz into academia." You won't get song-by-song summaries or who played what; you get him reacting to what he likes, and what goads him on record into having an opinion and making a fuss.

I have a great affection for many of the earlier LPs (as they appeared as such for we who first heard them then) here; Garry Mulholland's less than two years younger than me; he and I bonded, vicariously, over many of these records. Mulholland's keen on the frustrated adolescence, the furtive sex (or lack of) in Pere Ubu, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Elvis Costello, or Wire. He's excellent on revealing what forced Siouxsie and the Banshees, Devo, X-Ray Spex, Young Marble Giants, or Pere Ubu on "Non-Alignment Pact" (discussed at appropriate length) to put what they had to sing and play on vinyl. He channels more his own reflections on growing up in London (and getting to know some of those mentioned here as musicians) through hearing and learning from such recordings, and this combination of subjectivity and objectivity succeeds.

As he matures, and as he continues to intersperse bits of his life into his mini-essays, the music often surges or fades in equivalent interest for me, perhaps since I was paralleling his own trajectory through his albums, rejecting some and embracing others. Since I never gravitated towards the dance-oriented, trip/hip-hop, or mainstream pop that comprise many selections herein, I admit my own tastes differed, more and more as the decades progressed in this volume. Yet, Mulholland strives to sustain the tone that opened his account, with his own teenaged years coinciding, nearly, with punk's first sparks.

He counters the usual critical impositions that fetishize an often hit-and-miss original LP; he adds greatest-hits or compilations. Roxy Music's collection earns deserved acclaim; "Wanna Buy a Bridge" from Rough Trade label's singles (I have it too on LP) typify this expansion. Fine assortments "Hatful of Hollow" by The Smiths, Can's "Cannibalism," Buzzcocks' "Singles Going Steady," Jesus and Mary Chain's "Barbed Wire Kisses," and The Fall's "458489 A-Sides" gain appropriate mention.

Mulholland leans against the usual critical pressure; he defends My Bloody Valentine's "Isn't Anything" rather than "Loveless" and often overlooked works like Young Marble Giants' "Colossal Youth" and Wipers' "Youth of America" prove refreshing choices. Even if The Fall's "Extricate" & "Live at the Witch Trials" or Husker Du's "Candy Apple Grey" appear odd as the only original LPs from these two stalwarts of (post?)punk from this era.

I step aside when it comes to half of the entries. These didn't interest me as much--I'd heard what I liked here long before, and despite Mulholland's introductions to hundred-odd other (mostly British and U.S.) obsessions, they left me unmoved to seek out different genres and markedly new sounds now. I can't fault this volume for that--it takes on a wide swath of modern music. I may not like as much as he continues to admire, that's all.

Maybe it's part of me and Mulholland as contemporaries growing older with the music. I wonder if he'll keep returning to what moved him as a teen or young man, or whether a post-'03 volume will sum up 261 more come 2030? Today's musicians, amidst similar access to recordings, listen more and more of the past. They may try to leave it behind, or improve it, or pay homage to it. Is this a reason to blame this idealistic and impulsive messenger for his own fervent messages about his beloved stacks of wax and shiny discs?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91e1b840) out of 5 stars Great coffee table book. 13 Jan. 2011
By tankgirl27 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I find this Londoner's criticism pretty entertaining. Im glad to say there's some obscure stuff in here. I like the tidbits of band history and stories that are included. However, several friends have argued that there are some essential bands missing from the list, and some that did not deserve to be called "greatest", but this is one man's opinion. Go write yr own!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9210d120) out of 5 stars PROMISES MORE THAN IT DELIVERS 10 Nov. 2009
By Jason P. Farrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Look, I love Best-Albums collections more than anybody. In the Introduction, there's a suggestion by the author that he intends to move beyond the Critical Canon and present a new set of choices that come from both the proletariat and artsy contingents. But then you get in the body of the book, and sure, yes, the ROLLING STONE/Jann Wenner Sixties-As-End-All-And-Be-All Canon is subverted, but it's still full of the standard rock critics bromides: politico foaming instead of telling us things like (oh, I don't know) how the music sounds, albums and artists chosen for their Mainstream-Opposition traits, and predictable choices for a certain kind of British critic from a particular time. And you can list all the house music in the world, but the man on the street that you claim as representational ain't gonna go for it. With good reason.
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