One of the better music critics around, Simon Reynolds has contributed to such magazines as Melody Maker, Spin, Mojo, Uncut, The New York Times and others. His books range in topics from the cultural history of dance music (Energy Flash, Generation Ecstasy) and hip-hop (Bring the Noise) to a gender-based study of rock and roll (The Sex Revolts).
My personal favorite is 2005’s Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984, which explores the development of bands such as Joy Division, Talking Heads, Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd. and others, whose influence on contemporary bands like Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand is significant. The book’s subject is particularly near and dear to my heart, as it roughly coincides with some of my earliest musical explorations, and Reynolds astutely details the key elements that fueled that particular musical revolution, as told by many of the key participants themselves.
Soft Skull Press has just released an expanded US paperback edition of Reynolds’ latest work, Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. A companion book to Rip It Up and Start Again, this collection features the complete interviews Reynolds used in part in his previous work, which gives an even more personal touch to the era’s musical history.
The participants include such luminaries as David Byrne, influential UK DJ John Peel and impresario Tony Wilson, as well as lesser known but equally significant artists as Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, Slits/Pop Group producer Dennis Bovell, no-wave bandleader James Chance and original Fall guitarist Martin Bramah (fun fact: the book’s title comes from a classic single by The Fall!)
Learn why Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants complained when his band’s singer, Alison Statton, was voted one of the best singers of 1980! Or why David Thomas of Pere Ubu thinks Thomas Edison invented rock music!