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Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 Paperback – February 17, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the reactionary wake of 1970s punk rock came postpunk, a more complex, fragmented brand of music characterized by stark recordings, synthesizers and often cold, affected vocals. 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. Unfortunately, by the time he gets to bands like Human League and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, his passion is undermined by his subject. 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. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Shed[s] dazzling light on a neglected era of music. The definitive word on the subject." —The Times, London

"Anyone who claims to have read five better books about pop is mad, or a liar." —The Guardian, London


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143036726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143036722
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don't make the mistake of buying the US version
Get the whole story and buy the UK version. It contains chapters on US bands on the SST label, 2nd Gen. Industrial bands (Foetus, Test Dept.) a very important part of the post-punk aural landscape.

Ironic (or maybe typical) that a book on the highly political post-punk era is as cut up and censored as the US edition is.

from Simon Reynold's blog:


* 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

I don't understand this "reason of space" explanation. Wonder if they cut out some words from the dictionary for "reason of space"?
Approximately 200 pages missing from the US edition.

Very Very Lame

Don't waste your money. Get the UK edition and skrew the US publishers.
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Format: Paperback
A definitive history of post-punk has been long in coming. Though this may or may not be that definitive history (one book can't possibly fully address this fertile era), it is well worth a read.

True fans of post-punk should read this book, however they should read the UK version and not this shortened US version. Three chapters have been cut in their entirety and portions of other chapters have been cut or shortened. In total, the US version of the book is nearly 200 pages shorter.

The cover of the UK edition is also much cooler.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me admit right up front that I am not a fan of 95% of the music chronicled in this book. But several of my friends are, so I thought I'd dip into it to see if it would make a nice gift. With that in mind, I read the one chapter that covers music I really love, the chapter about the rapid rise and fall of the 2-Tone ska movement. Those twenty pages were enough to convince me that Reynolds is best kind of music writer, able to write evocatively about the music itself while providing the social, economic, and political context for its creation. He hits the nail firmly on the head in his analysis of The Specials' songs as "cheerless" -- tying them to social-realist cinema and the bleak post-WWII concrete jungle of their native Coventry. Reynolds also does a nice job of describing the origins of ska, it's development in England, and rather complicated ties to the mod and skinhead subcultures. He's also brimming with details about the major bands and why it all fell apart so quickly. Two quibbles do present themselves. One is that some of the transitions are a bit choppy, and I later learned that the US edition I read is an abridged version of the UK edition (nowhere is this obviously stated on the US edition). Some 300+ pages were cut, which would explain some of the choppiness I found, and I have to say that I'll be buying the more expensive UK version for my friends. The second reservation I have with the book is the total lack of documentation. It's great to quote Dammers, Hall, Staple, and all these other musicians, but it would be nice to know where these quotes came from so that one could do follow-up reading or research -- there's not even a bibliography! These cavaets of abrdigement and referencing aside, this appears to be an excellent, well-written account of an overlooked era of music history and should stand as the definitive work for many years to come.
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Format: Paperback
Simon Reynolds' Rip it Up and Start Again is an engaging look at the British side of the collective of genres we call "post-punk": the dub reggae experimenters, the Burundi-beat-plundering New Romantics, the "angular" guitar-wielding do-it-yourselfers.

However, my purpose in writing this review is not to discuss the book. It suffices to say that despite the two-star review, this is really a four-star book, and is highly recommended to anyone with post-punk listening experience who wants to understand the sociopolitical, economic, and musical histories of post-punk. Instead my purpose of this review is to advise you against buying the US edition, since it is an abridged version of the longer (and more comprehensive) UK edition.

What's been cut from the US edition is a little over a hundred pages of material, including three complete chapters. Off the top of my head, there's a chapter on Magazine that got cut, a chapter on industrial music that got cut, and a chapter on the American SST scene that got cut. I'm also told, though I didn't get the chance to do the comparison myself, that there are bits and pieces of the chapters themselves that have been cut out of the US edition.

In short, don't be afraid to spend a couple extra bucks on the UK version for the complete experience.
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