I just finished reading RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN: Postpunk 1978-1984, a totally inclusive and insightful book examining that exciting era of music spanning from its inception with Public Image Ltd., and ending with what author Simon Reynolds calls "Punk's last blast", the rise and fall of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Broken into two main parts, "Postpunk" and "New Pop and New Rock", the book explores twenty-two distinct components of what made Postpunk what it was, analyzing the different (and differing) scenes and sub-genres that made that six-year period the last exciting and innovative time in musical evolution.
I've read virtually every book on this period of music, and happened to have experienced much of that period up-close and first-hand having come of legal age squarely in the middle of that time in NYC, according to Reynolds, one of the capitals of Postpunk (along with London, Leeds, Akron, San Francisco, Manchester, Los Angeles, Sheffield, and Coventry). This book not only allowed me to re-live much of the excitement of the times, but taught me a thing or two about some of the rest of the scenes that I'd either never known, forgotten, or blocked-out.
Particularly interesting to me were the chapters on New York's No Wave and Mutant Disco/Punk Funk scenes, the 2-Tone/Ska Resurrection, and the chapter called "Fun N' Frenzy: Postcard Records and The Sound Of Young Scotland", chronicaling the importance of Orange Juice and Josef K to the evolution of the music of that time.
This book is a fantastic study of a great musical period, and a must-read for anyone interested in taking a peek behind the beats and rhythms of those fun days when it was actually OK to dance to rock music.
To help launch the book's release ("Rip It Up..." hits book stores on March 7), the following event is scheduled:
RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN: Postpunk 1978-1984
A panel discussion hosted by Simon Reynolds
2/28 @ Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction
34 Avenue A (between 2nd and 3rd streets)
7 PM, $8
Postpunk innovators James Chance (Contortions, James White & The Blacks), Steven Daly (Orange Juice), and Vivien Goldman (NME, Melody Maker)-with more guests TBA--discuss the wildly adventurous music and radical personalities chronicled in Simon Reynolds' RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN: Postpunk 1978-1984 (Penguin Original; on sale 3/7/06).
Focusing on New York City's downtown scene in the half decade following punk, discussion will range from the unique synergy between musicians, writers, and artists of the era; outside musical influences embraced by postpunk's creators; and the close relationship between the NYC and UK scenes at the end of the '70s.
Singer/saxophonist/leader of the legendary No Wave bands Contortions and James White & The Blacks, downtown stars for their frenzied jazz-punk/punk-funk sound, nihilistic lyrics and confrontational interaction with audiences. Chance still lives and performs in New York.
British music journalist who covered postpunk at the time for NME, Sounds and Melody Maker, with special focus on the intersection between reggae and postpunk groups like The Slits, The Pop Group, and Public Image Ltd. During studio downtime donated by PiL, Goldman recorded the single "Launderette," deemed a treasure of the era by postpunk cultists; she also wrote and sang songs for The Flying Lizards. These days Goldman lives in the East Village of New York and is the author of books like The Black Chord: Visions of the Groove and The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century, the latter due for publication later in 2006. Check out Pitchfork's review of her female postpunk compilation Grlz: Women Ahead of Their Time:
Drummer and conceptualist in Orange Juice, the celebrated Scottish band whose blend of Chic and Velvet Underground bridged the gap between postpunk, New Pop and indie-rock. Now based in Manhattan, these days Daly is a journalist (he's a contributing editor at Vanity Fair) and author (The Rock Snob's Dictionary).
Simon Reynolds, author of RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN
A London-born music journalist living in New York, Simon is the author of several books, including Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, shortlisted for the 1999 Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards. His pop culture writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Details, The Washington Post, Melody Maker, Mojo and many others. A former editor for Spin, he remains a senior contributing writer for the magazine. For more information on Rip It Up, including a full discography and additional musician interviews, visit www.simonreynolds.net or check out Simon's music blog at www.blissblog.blogspot.com
Buy Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 at Amazon.
If you could play the book, here's what a couple of the chapters might sound like:
Public Image Ltd - "This Is Not A Love Song" mp3 buy
Delta 5 - "Now That You've Gone" mp3 buy