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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SIX FORM, 25 May 2012
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This review is from: Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 (Paperback)
There is absolutely no doubting the brillance and genius of this period of music,some genius bands.But in contrast to most of the reviews i found Rip It Up ultimately to be a bit of a flat read,which considering the innovative nature of the bands featured is quite odd.
Its all very dorky,male Mojo magazine reading stuff that fails to capture the sheer visceral entertainment of the bands.Reynolds metaphorical descriptions of songs are awful and by golly does he suffer from some of the same pretensions of some of the artists featured.
There are numerous bands covered called things like Dog Leg who think banging a radiator and throwing bags of poo at an audience is "art".No guv.You just cannot play or write a decent tune.The manifestos of certain bands are almost laughable in their sixth form naivety....."breaking the boundaries of sound and perception".....hmmm.....well if the band does break down all these barriers where does it leave them?Surely if everyone makes a racket,takes the same stance it dilutes your holier then thou statements???It just becomes repetitive and redundant if everyone does exactly what they want.Before you know it working within an infrastructure would become radical.
I firmly believe in barriers in art,self imposed or otherwise.Artists tend to become tragically self indulgent.
Bands such as P.I.L,Joy Division,New Order,Gang Of Four,Devo and many others of this stature are above these criticisms obviously.These groups like the best simply transcend genre tick boxes.
There are chapters when the book suddenly comes alive and colourful,when dealing with the new pop stuff,Throbbing Gristle are very interesting i could read a whole book about them,even though i do not take them as profoundly seriously as they do themselves.
Its an ok book don't get me wrong but i don't think i will be reading further "works" from Reynolds,not my type of guy.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 May 2012 15:36:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 May 2012 15:38:50 BDT
Nelson Viper says:
Good review. I had a similar reaction to this book. I think the thing about Reynolds is that he's trying to make history fit his overview rather than have his overview fit the facts. Why for instance are Devo a post punk band when they predate punk and why aren't bands like Sparks post punk when everything he says post-punk is applies to them as much as it applies to Devo. In fact if you look at that entire era, hip bands and mainstream bands were influenced by the same things. The difference was really that Punk ethics meant that the results were harsher and less commercial sounding. He also states things that are completely wrong. For instance the idea that studio recording became more important. The studio had in fact been the most important tool in the music industry since the late 1960s and the big bands of the era actually toured with masses of equipment to reproduce the sound of their albums live and did not as he believes spend their time recording records that replicated their live sound. Further more bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four sound, from what I can tell, sound almost identical live to their records because the music they made was so stripped back. Historically he misses how widespread electronic mus already was. Its all over film and TV soundtracks from the 70s and 80s , it was not introduced by a bunch of people he interviewed and had a coffee with.
But what the book really suffers from his it's attempt to make what was being written more central than it is. I was a little kid in this era and I can remember my older brother playing stuff from all over the place, the division between rock and pop was not actually that great for ordinary record buyers. And your right, the guy, can't write about what music feels or sounds like.
It's a very snobby book too, not just musically but socially with lots of stuff, about class that isn't born out by the evidence. As more of a rock fan I think he also doesn't understand the way music progressed. Punk, post Punk and Hardcore fed into rock just as much as it did pop as listening to old RATM and NIN records instantly attest.

Posted on 26 May 2012 17:37:54 BDT
mister joe says:
Thanks Nelson for reading,totally agree.Apart from when he spoke about bands i recognised or liked i was pretty unimpressed.I cannot stand revisionism and Reynolds did seem to only really come alive when talking about the more obscure stuff.There was no sense of humour or the naivety of the artists and some of the words!It was clunky stuff.Don't get me wrong it is commendable to try and write a book about this fascinating era but it was a cast of too many,important careers reduced to paragraphs.
I think it would have been better for him to have written a Throbbing Gristle bio,intwined with other bands on the scene.Totally right about the 60s studio thing,i cannot believe he makes such an inaccurate point,Phil Spector,Motown....these were thoroughly studio based.Its one of those books written by someone without any periphary vision.There was a book called Please Kill Me about punk,which whilst featuring omissions,having faults etc was a good read because of the interview format.Maybe thats what Reynolds should have done an oral history,interviews with the people.That would have been infinetly more interesting then his awful attempts at describing songs.
In some ways it was insulting,describing songs a reader of a post punk book was sure to have heard anyway.
There was an unmistakable whiff of ego about this book,it could not have been more from Reynolds opinion unless he pinned you in the corner of a room and read the thing to you.I much prefer a more impartial author,unless they are Lester Bangs,Charlie Brooker i am not interested in the authors over view.I wanted to know what the bands,fans,labels thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 May 2012 19:32:03 BDT
Nelson Viper says:
The Throbbing Gristle story is facinating as is the story of Crass,
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