Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the hype on Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 by Simon Reynolds

#61 in Billboard's 100 Greatest Music Books

"For British music critic Reynolds, punk was the musically regressive precursor to the real revolution found in the music that followed in its wake. Postpunk served up catnip to critics, with its arty provocations, political theory and Top 40 subversions; Reynolds particularly delights in big thinkers like Gang of Four and Scritti Politti. Inevitably diffuse, Rip It Up coheres around its embrace of music with limitless possibility."

NME's 20 Essential Music Books
"Reynolds traces the history of the post-punk era in this high-minded account."

[from Premiere's Les 12 meilleurs livres jamais publiés sur la musique ]

Parce qu'il fut élevé à l'école visionnaire et futuriste du post-punk, Simon Reynolds (voir ici notre entretien) fait parti de ces critiques musicales qui ont toujours devancé les tendances. Collaborateur de longue date au Melody Maker ou chez Wire, pionnier des journalistes électro, l’anglais est toujours à la pointe, et ce depuis le début. Au commencement des années 90, il s'investit totalement en tant que rédacteur freelance dans la scène house, techno et jungle. Une passion jamais démentie qui prend sa source dans les expérimentations post-punk et disco-punk justement, des années 1978-1984 qui, de Cabaret Voltaire à Throbbing Gristle en passant par Suicide, Gang of Four, Telex ou la synth-pop, préfiguraient largement ce qu'allait devenir la musique électronique telle que nous la connaissons aujourd'hui. La parution chez Allia en 2007 de son livre Rip it Up and Start Again fut un véritable événement, ainsi qu’un retour aux sources de ce qui fait de Reynolds un journaliste unique. En explorant la production foisonnante de ces années post-punk sous l’angle de la musique mais aussi de la politique et de la philosophie, Reynolds initie un journalisme musical à tendance sociologique et lui donne une nouvelle dimension. Incontournable

[from Pitchfork's Words and Music: Our 60 Favorite Music Books]"For all its filth and fury, punk music-- at least the back-to-basics rock 'n' roll the Sex Pistols dished out on Never Mind the Bollocks-- wasn't terribly far removed from AC/DC. The weird stuff happened later. With Rip it Up and Start Again, Simon Reynolds provides the definitive history of what came after punk's initial explosion-- when kids in far-flung cities and suburbs took the movement's troublemaking ideals and ran with them. This book is for, and about, the people who weren't there at the right time and place (in punk's case, London and New York circa 1976), but who nonetheless refused to believe it was all over and done with before they joined in," writes Reynolds in the book's intro. And a lot of people wanted to join in. Rip It Up runs over with heady analysis and record-nerd esoterica as Reynolds finds a narrative thread in the exploits of characters who reinvented themselves throughout the period like former Sex Pistol John Lydon and Scritti Politti frontman Green Gartside. He revels in the funny, awkward moments that often act as precursors to innovation-- Phil Oakey passing his Human League audition by singing lyrics about slaughtering silkworms, Genesis P-Orridge's stomach-churning gigs with the performance art collective COUM Transmissions. Punk's initial scope was narrow, but, ultimately, open to interpretation. Rip It Up and Start Again shows just how limitless the possibilities were." --Aaron Leitko, Pitchfork

"An early contender for best rock book of 2006"--Rolling Stone

"During the last few years... by far the most impressive music book has been Rip It Up and Start Again.... A work of music history both forensic and enthusiastic, its mixture of intelligence and brio is perfectly matched to the genre whose story it tells: so-called "post-punk", which drew to a close sometime in the mid-1980s. It had the same addictive effect on me as Lipstick Traces, and brought home a realisation: that though serious music writing was born well away from the bookshelf, that's exactly where its future may lie"--John Harris, The Guardian

"The next night, I will be back on the air live on KCRW and I have a really great show that I hope you get a chance to check out. The whole show is based around the book Rip It Up And Start Again by Simon Reynolds. I think it’s one of the most interesting sets I have ever put together. I can’t really take any credit for it as the show is based on this very cool book but I did have all the records already, so perhaps that counts for something"-- Henry Rollins, Dispatches blog, 04-19-09

“Reynolds emerges as that rarity among British music writers, an author capable of putting the music into a political and social context… Not just a great study of a remarkable musical era, but one of the first important historical studies of the Eighties.’ Tom Lappin, The Scotsman

‘An exhaustive, liberating argument that this stuff matters – not just the neglected music itself, but the act of writing about music … It is rare to find a piece of music writing so sustained and so eloquent”-- Andy Miller, The Daily Telegraph

"Reynolds has shed dazzling light on a neglected era of music... The definitive word on the subject"--Adam Sweeting, The Sunday Times (London)

Number 13 in MOG's The Top 20 Music Books of All Time
"So you think you know everything about post-punk? Are you sure? In this seminal text, music critic and writer Reynolds documents the history of punk's artier child, shedding new light on bands we've never heard of, and on those we think we've heard of but may never read anything else about. His exhaustive account tells us everything we need to know about post-punk, before examining the intertwining pop and rock era that followed the early-'80s explosion. Reynolds makes the case for the intellectual side of the music, puts it into context of time and place in history, and demonstrates just how much of a way of life it was. The book is absolutely perfect for the music nerd in you. And it's also painfully perfect for those of us who where born some years too late to experience weirdo rock's most exciting era." (Anna Zerkidou)

"[IMAGE Daily 5 Books About Music] 1.  Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds Simon Reynolds eats and breathes music as well as writing it - and his enduring love for the small details and gossipy minutiae of post-punk music as well as the tunes themselves are blindingly evident in Rip It Up And Start Again. Postpunk is the genre that shaped not only what we listen to but how we listen to it today.  Told in chapters exploring the history and impact of bands in Europe and North America, it’s incredibly compelling - and much more informal than the title would leave you to believe"- Sarah Waldron, IMAGE Daily.

"Rip It Up And Start Again, Simon Reynolds' exhaustive study of the British and American post-punk scene between 1978 and 1984, has very few serious rivals as the greatest music book of this decade. Even those whose musical tastes wouldn't stretch to accommodate most of the bands featured in its pages are urged to pick up a copy, as it manages to be both an astonishing feat of research and a breathtakingly illuminating piece of writing."-- Sunday Business Post (Ireland).

“The two books of cultural criticism that have provided the most insight, stimulation, and reading excitement for me this year are Rip It Up by Simon Reynolds, which does for post-punk (PiL, Talking Heads, Wire, Bow Wow Wow) what Roger Shattuck's The Banquet Years did for the pre-WWI French avant-garde, and Roger Copeland's Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance,”--James Wolcott,

Chosen as Book of the Year--New Musical Express annual critics poll 2005; “Mind opening.”

#2 music book of the Year, Observer Music Monthly; “the definitive account of the post-punk era and the music of that time….”

Editors’s Choice--New York Times

"Exhilarating... a perfect alchemy of lightly worn erudition and focused enthusiasm"--Village Voice

"Not just a terrific rock book, but a really satisfying social history"--Newsday

"Reynolds' prose is clear-eyed, agile and just plain fun to read"--Time Out New York

“Reynolds masterfully captures the excitement of this period, when every week seemed to bring a new musical advancement”--The Tampa Tribune

“"Rip It Up and Start Again" strikes just the right balance between history and criticism, between serious sociology and casual opinion-slinging…Whether you agree with everything he says or not, Reynolds is as well-informed a guide to this distressingly obscure era as you could hope to find. Score: 10/10”--Arizona Wildcat

#6 in Entertainment Weekly’s The Must List: “Devo, Joy Division, and other oft-neglected post-punk trailblazers get a fresh look in this passionate, insightful history of early-80s rock on the cusp of MTV”

Selected as one of Time Out (London)’s Best Books of the Year (fiction and non-fiction); “The last of a dying breed of music journalists who know what they’re talking about, Reynolds celebrates post-punk from The Fall to the new pop of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Read it and weep for a time when pop music had political balls and intellectual content.”

#2 Book of the Year (Non-Fiction and Fiction) -- Uncut magazine

Selected as one of the best Pop Books of 2005 --Sunday Times; “…delightfully knowledgeable survey of a period of British pop that rivaled the 1960s for inventiveness (synth pop, white reggae and ‘industrial music’ were just three of its coinages) as well as producing some of its greatest characters, including John Lydon, Mark E Smith of The Fall and Bono”--Robert Sandall

Selected as one of the best Music Books of the Year--The Times (London); “a passionate account of Post Punk — not a movement exactly, but a gleefully chaotic period from 1978 to 1982 in which dub, funk, industrial and German electronic music meshed. Gang of Four, Joy Division, Scritti Politti and the Specials jumped into the void. For fans of Jon Savage’s punk anthology England’s Dreaming, this is a natural companion.”--Bob Stanley

Chosen as Book of the Year by DJ Taylor in the Times Literary Supplement;
“As someone whose adolescent evenings were spent in the company of the late John Peel, I relished Simon Reynolds's companion volume Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 (Faber), an urgent dispatch from that brief period in popular musical history when the mainstream was colonized by the experimental and weird time-signatures and off-kilter attitudes could be found in the Top 30.”

# 3 in Blender magazine’s top books of 2005; “focusing on still-revered, genre-busting bands like Talking Heads, Devo and Gang of Four, this import traces how big-brained art-school renegades bridged the gap between ragged ’70s punk and made-for-MTV pop.”

“Illuminating… Although it's the first book to deal with postpunk, this book stands as a peer among substantive punk histories like Jon Savage's England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond and Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain's Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Warmly recommended for all libraries.”--Library Journal

“We got a copy of the U.S. version of Simon Reynolds' Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 this weekend. We're at about the midway point and are already convinced that it's the best music book we'll read this year. The writing is informative and accessible, so even if you know nothing about some of the bands he mentions, you're still able to follow along”--The Minor Lift, the Major Fall.

“Much like Sweet Soul Music, Peter Guralnick's history of rhythm and blues, Rip It Up is a dazzling, rich, definitive work, and I am certain that it will serve as both encyclopedia and bible on the subject for many years to come"--William Pym, Artforum

“Postpunk stands as "a fair match for the Sixties," argues Reynolds, both in terms of the amount of great music created as well as the music's connection to the "social and political turbulence" of its era (the early 1980s). Seeking to address a gap in music and pop culture history, Reynolds (Generation Ecstasy) has penned an ambitious, cerebral effort to establish a high place in rock history for bands such as Joy Division, Devo, Talking Heads, Mission of Burma and, of course, Public Image Limited (PiL), fronted by former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten). Reynolds, an energetic writer, especially captures the postpunk ethic in telling the story of PiL's short journey from record company darlings to utter oblivion…. Reynolds succeeds in depicting the icons and the richness of an era that clearly manifests itself as a primary influence among a new generation of musicians.” -- Publisher’s Weekly

"A fantastic tribute to an amazingly creative musical period. It is an instant pop classic, worthy of a place on your shelves beside the handful of music books that really matter"----John McTernan, Scotland on Sunday

‘Reynolds makes his case with expansive intelligence, pristine prose and occasional bleary wit. Anyone who claims to have read five better books about pop is mad, or a liar”-- Andrew Mueller, The Guide (Guardian).

"This is a monumental book, something of a labor of love for Reynolds... His success is to produce a guide that's never dry, but is instead both highly personal and authoritative--a new addition to the handful of essential pop books”--Robert Yates, GQ.

"As monumentally entertaining an edifice of great quotes, fine critical judgments, painstaking research and elegantly traced aesthetic bloodlines as could possibly have been hoped for”--Ben Thompson, The Independent on Sunday (London)

‘A compelling reminder of a time when clever, mischievous, creative people formed bands--and wrote about them. Rip it up and Start Again is his most accessible book... Much of it is taken up by a detailed chronicle of the myriad bands and scenes of the late Seventies and early Eighties, the flow of ideas channeled along by traditional narrative and some magnificent research”-- Kitty Empire, The Observer (London)

"A radiant stroll through the underground music scene of 1978 to 1984, elements of which have inspired today's wave of angular pop. Simon Reynolds rightly describes the period as a golden age, thrilling in its optimism and radical verve .. It's enthralling, but the book's real triumph is in its exposition of the concealed plumbing and wiring of these moments in time, the ideas and undercurrents that fuelled the post-punk dream: Marxism, postmodernism, futurism, and all the other isms debated endlessly and passionately in the 1980s squats, collectives and art colleges. Reynolds makes the connections and fixes the era in all its richness, squalor and splendour"---Richard Cabut, The Daily Telegraph

‘A wonderfully rich treatise on what might be termed “The short eighties” – stretching from 1978 to 1984 … he sounds an increasingly rare voice in pop writing, grappling with music’s subtext and hidden agendas, constantly noting that the best records ooze intellectual substance”--John Harris, The Times (London)

"Reynolds's enthusiasm and seemingly infinite knowledge of the music scene provide the glue for his thesis. He masterfully covers the shifting political context and the rise of independent labels like Rough Trade, Factory and Mute. He even finds space for "cassette bands" that scorned vinyl, like God & the Turds and the Scrotum Poles. Glorious"--Ian Pindar, The Guardian Review

"As an act of cultural archaeology, Simon Reynolds's wonderful new compendium
takes some beating. Taking the post-punk and new wave bands of the late
Seventies and early Eighties as his subject, Reynolds delivers a musical
encyclopedia in which Cabaret Voltaire jostle for space alongside Public Image
Ltd, Throbbing Gristle and Soft Cell. Drawn naturally to the overlooked,
neglected and just plain offbeat, Reynolds makes his opinions plain without ever
descending into insult. A fascinating treasure trove of a time when brains and beats worked in glorious - and occasionally hilarious - harmony."--Robert Colvile, Observer (Review)

"Rip It Up and Start Again... is proof that reading about music can be as good as listening to it. His knowledge of the post-punk scene is remarkable and his critical ear as impressive as his writing."--Davide Ferrauto, Personal Book Favorites of
2005,The Guardian

info on Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 by Simon Reynolds

Punk's raw power rejuvenated rock, but by summer 1977 it had become a parody of itself. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 is a celebration of what happened next--bands like Joy Division, Gang of Four, Wire, Contortions, Talking Heads, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League--who dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution. Based on over 125 interviews, Rip It Up offers a panoramic survey of the seven year period following punk, taking in everything from PIL to ABC to SST to ZTT, and dealing with genres including industrial, 2-Tone, synthpop, and goth.

buy the UK edition here

buy the US edition here

Contents Page of the UK edition


Author's Note




Public Image Ltd

2/ OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING: Howard Devoto and Vic Godard

Buzzcocks. Magazine. Subway Sect.

3/ FEAR AND LOATHING IN OHIO: Pere Ubu, Devo and the Cleveland-Akron scene

Pere Ubu. Devo.


James Chance and the Contortions. Suicide. Lydia Lunch. DNA. Mars. Lounge Lizards.

5/ TRIBAL REVIVAL: The Pop Group and The Slits

The Pop Group. Alternative TV. The Slits. New Age Steppers. Rip Rip & Panic.

6/ AUTONOMY IN THE U.K.: Independent Labels and the DIY movement

New Hormones. Fast Product. Factory. Rough Trade. Cherry Red. Desperate Bicyles. Thomas Leer. The Normal. Mute. Swell Maps.

7/ MILITANT ENTERTAINMENT: Gang of Four and The Leeds Scene

Gang of Four. The Mekons. Delta 5. Au Pairs.

8/ ART ATTACK: Talking Heads and Wire
Talking Heads. David Byrne & Brian Eno. Wire. Dome.

9/ LIVING FOR THE FUTURE: Cabaret Voltaire, the Human League and the Sheffield Scene

Cabaret Voltaire. The Future/Human League.

10/ JUST STEP SIDEWAYS: The Fall, Joy Division and the Manchester Scene

The Fall. Joy Division. Martin Hannett. The Passage. Factory Records. A Certain Ratio. Durutti Column.

11/ MESSTHETICS: The London vanguard

Scritti Politti. LMC. Flying Lizards. This Heat. Rough Trade. The Raincoats. The Red Krayola. Young Marble Giants. John Peel.

12/ INDUSTRIAL DEVOLUTION: Throbbing Gristle’s Music from the Death Factory

Throbbing Gristle. Whitehouse. Nurse With Wound. Clock DVA. 23 Skidoo.

13/ FREAK SCENE: San Francisco

The Residents. Tuxedomoon. Factrix. Chrome. The Sleepers. Flipper.

14/ CAREERING: PiL and Postpunk’s Peak and Fall

Public Image Ltd.


15/ GHOST DANCE: 2-Tone and the Ska Resurrection

The Specials. Madness. The Beat. The Selecter. Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

16/ SEX GANG CHILDREN: Malcolm McLaren, the Pied Piper of Pantomime Pop

Bow Wow Wow. Adam and the Ants.


Human League. Gary Numan. Ultravox. John Foxx. Visage. Spandau Ballet. Martin Rushent. Soft Cell. Japan. DAF.

18/ FUN ’N’ FRENZY: Postcard Records and the Sound of Young Scotland

Orange Juice. Josef K. The Fire Engines. The Associates.

19/ PLAY TO WIN: The Pioneers of New Pop

Scritti Politti. Heaven 17. Trevor Horn. ABC.

20/ MUTANT DISCO AND PUNK-FUNK: Crosstown Traffic in early Eighties New York (and Beyond…)[an oral history]
B-52s. Pylon. Club 57. Mudd Club. Jean-Michel Basquiat. ZE Records. Kid Creole & The Coconuts. Was (Not Was). Material. 99 Records. Bush Tetras. ESG. Liquid Liquid. A Certain Ratio. New Order. Arthur Baker. Sonic Youth.

21/ NEW GOLD DREAMS 81-82-83-84: The Peak and Fall of New Pop
The Associates. Altered Images. Simple Minds. Haircut 100. Orange Juice. Duran Duran. Eurythmics. Thompson Twins. Wham!. Culture Club. ABC. Human League. Scritti Politti.

22/ DARK THINGS: Goth and the Return of Rock
Bauhaus. Siouxsie & The Banshees. The Cure. The Birthday Party. Killing Joke. Virgin Prunes. Theatre of Hate. Sisters of Mercy. Southern Death Cult.

23/ GLORY BOYS: Liverpool, New Psychedelia, and the Big Music

Echo & The Bunnymen. Wah! Heat. The Teardrop Explodes. The Blue Orchids. Big Country. Simple Minds. U2.

24/ THE BLASTING CONCEPT: Progressive Punk from SST Records to Mission of Burma

SST Records. Black Flag. The Minutemen. Husker Du. Mission of Burma. Meat Puppets.

25/ CONFORM TO DEFORM: The Second-Wave Industrial Infiltrators

Psychic TV. Cabaret Voltaire. Coil. Foetus. Einsturzende Neubauten. Test Dept. Swans. Depeche Mode.

26/ RAIDING THE 20TH CENTURY: ZTT and Frankiemania

Malcolm McLaren. Trevor Horn. The Art of Noise. Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Propaganda. Grace Jones.


Appendix: MTV and the Second British Invasion




Contents Page of US edition

[nb chapter sequence differs from the UK one for reasons of narrative flow]


Prologue: The Unfinished Revolution


2/ AUTONOMY IN THE U.K: DIY and the British Independent Label

3/ TRIBAL REVIVAL: The Pop Group and The Slits

4/ MILITANT ENTERTAINMENT: Gang of Four and The Leeds Scene

5/ UNCONTROLLABLE URGE: the Industrial Grotesquerie of Pere Ubu

6/ LIVING FOR THE FUTURE: Cabaret Voltaire, the Human League and the

7/ JUST STEP SIDEWAYS: The Fall, Joy Division and the Manchester Scene

8/ INDUSTRIAL DEVOLUTION: Throbbing Gristle, Nurse with wound, Whitehouse, Clock DVA, 23 Skidoo


10/ ART ATTACK: Talking Heads, Wire, and Mission of Burma

11/ MESSTHETICS: The London vanguard (Scritti, Flying Lizards, This Heat, young Marble Giants, Raincoats, DIY, John Peel)

12/ FREAK SCENE: San Francisco -- Tuxedomoon, Chrome, Residents, Flipper, Factrix etc

13/ CAREERING: PiL and Postpunk’s Peak and Fall

14/ GHOST DANCE: 2-Tone and the Ska Resurrection

15/ SEX GANG CHILDREN: Malcolm McLaren, Adam and Ants, Bow Wow Wow etc

16/ MUTANT DISCO AND PUNK-FUNK [a written chapter, not an oral history unlike UK]
B-52s. Pylon. Club 57. Mudd Club. Jean-Michel Basquiat. ZE Records. Kid Creole & The Coconuts. Was (Not Was). Material. 99 Records. Bush Tetras. ESG. Liquid Liquid. A Certain Ratio. New Order. Arthur Baker. Sonic Youth.

17/ ELECTRIC DREAMS: Synthpop -- human league, gary numan, Japan, soft cell, DAF etc

18/ FUN ’N’ FRENZY: Postcard Records and the Sound of Young Scotland

19/ PLAY TO WIN: The Pioneers of New Pop -- ABC, Scritti, Heaven 17

20/ NEW GOLD DREAMS 81-82-83-84: New Pop’s Peak, the Second British Invasion, and the Rise of MTV
The Associates. Altered Images. Simple Minds. Haircut 100. Orange Juice. Duran Duran. Eurythmics. Thompson Twins. Wham!. Culture Club. ABC. Human League. Scritti Politti.

21/ DARK THINGS AND GLORY BOYS: Goth, the New Psychedelia, and the Return of Rock
-- Siouxsie and Banshees, Killing Joke, The Cult, Sisters of Mercy -- Echo & the Bunnymen, U2, Blue Orchids etc

22/ RAIDING THE 20TH CENTURY: ZTT, The Art of Noise, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood




* the chapter sequence is different from the UK version

* three chapters are cut for reasons of space: the Devoto/Subway Sect chapter; the Conform to Deform Second Wave of Industrial chapter; and the SST/Blasting Concept chapter

* two chapters compressed into one for reasons of space, the Goth chapter and the Glory Boys/Big Music chapter

* Timeline is absent for reason of space

* in the US edition, the Appendix on MTV and the Second British Invasion is folded into the chapter on New Pop's peak

* no illustrations in the US edition

* the Mutant Disco chapter is written up as proper historical prose in the US edition, as opposed to the oral history in the UK edition

* no bibliography in the US edition