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Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 Paperback – 2 Feb 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057121570X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571215706
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"'I had never expected there to be a book on this subject; had I done so, I would never have dared to hope it could be as good as this.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Book of the Week"

Book Description

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, by Simon Reynolds, is the essential book on post-punk music, a must for any serious pop music fan.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I loved this book. The coverage is incredibly broad, and the sheer fascination of the music really comes alive through Reynolds's writing. The other reviewers sum up the great things about this book well, and I agree with what they said. So here are a couple of criticisms: he doesn't contextualise the music in the political and cultural context of the day as well as Jon Savage did for punk 1976-1978 in "England's Dreaming". That's not a surprise, since he is covering so many different, overlapping musical scenes in the UK and the UK, with nods to Germany and Australia. But it does make it more of a music fan's book and less of a cultural history than it promised to be. A second related criticism is that this is definitely a history of the producers of music, not of its consumption. So we get very little insight into the subcultures formed around these musical scenes (such as round Two Tone or Gothic), and the interpretation of the music is very much from the point of the switched on 20 something who went to gigs, rather than the bulk of the record buying or radio listening publics aged 10 to 30. The sheer excitement of hearing "Gangsters" or "Pretty Vacant" or "Sensoria" on your little transitor radio for the first time doesn't quite come across. Nor do you get much of a feel for why, when the Human League or Depeche Mode popped up on Top of the Pops or Radio 1, it felt just like the obvious way to make pop records and nothing would need to change again now we'd got it right! Related to this, thirdly, this is a guy in his late 30s (maybe a shade older) telling us that music was better in his day (and I know he has written about 90s rave culture too, but he says that has gone off as well). Hence the historicising.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Reynolds' prior books 'Blissed Out' & 'Energy Flash' were both excellent and the epitome of the kind of music journalism we lack these days (though like some great music journalism, the writing was sometimes more exciting than some of the records described- notably in 'Energy Flash.')Reynolds has found a niche to write about - what came after punk on both sides of the Atlantic and how that mutated into what was termed 'New Pop' & ultimately fizzled out in the horrific decade that would champion Phil Collins, Thompson Twins & Duran...
It's a vast area Reynolds writes about, choosing to get a handle on it by presenting the book in (i) two halves: Post-Punk and New Pop/New Rock & (ii) writing a chapter on related acts - so we move back and forth, and round and about (there's a great timeline, though sadly a discography in the style of 'Energy Flash' is not in the book- it's on the publisher's website!)Reynolds writes, as his features in 'Uncut' & in prior publications, interestingly and intelligently, taking in such names as PIL, Throbbing Gristle, Wire, Devo, The Slits, The Raincoats, Pere Ubu, Joy Division, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Scritti Politti, Gang of Four, Magazine, Subway Sect, The Pop Group, No-Wave (and in what came after post-punk, such names as Dexys, The Specials, Associates, Malcolm McClaren, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Foetus, Mission of Burma, Husker Du, Meat Puppets and so on...) The only problem with this is that you read about one band, go and put one of their records on, turn a few pages and you're with another band, whose record you go and get and put on (and so on!!!) The answer to this would be a Nuggets-style box-set compiled by Mr Reynolds!
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Format: Paperback
Rip up:
1. The idea that the best period for Pop was the Sixties. Simon Reynolds' elegantly and urgently written survey of post-punk puts that complacent baby boomer myth to rest once and for all. All of Reynolds' books have been essential reading for anyone serious about Pop, and this is no exception. If you are at all interested in how Pop could be challenging, weird and yet compulsive, you really will not be able to put this book down. 'Rip it Up' eloquently and exhaustively makes the case that the 1978-84 period was a pop cultural treasure trove. Reynolds lets us see the usual suspects (PiL, Joy Division, The Fall, The Raincoats, The Slits, Throbbing Gristle, Gang of 4, Cabaret Voltaire) from unusual angles (the anecdote about Martin Hannett making Steve Morris record each drum separately is a wonderful insight into the way in which Joy Division's sound was produced, for instance), as well as re-focusing attention on the forgotten or barely remembered (This Heat, Tuxedomoon).
2. The idea that Pop is essentially to do with music. Reynolds demonstrates that this was a period in which politics, theory and sonic innovation fed into each other in a now scarcely imaginable cocktail of mutual intensification.
3. The idea that Pop has to be entertainment. Reynolds' analysis of postpunk is an implicit broadside against contemporary pop's compulsory trivialization. Pop then was a way of living, not simply a style of consuming.
...and start again:
The book inevitably poses the question - could we ever have it so good again? Can Pop ever return to a Now this urgent, or will it always be yesterday once more? Well, part of what made post-punk so powerful was its unashamed intellectualism.
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