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England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond
England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond
by Jon Savage
Edition: Paperback
55 used & new from $0.12

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punk As Sociology 101: England's Dreaming, January 11, 2000
Punk Rock is an oft-misunderstood musical genre, usually seen as one-dimensional, inarticulate, and musically incompetent, made by angry young kids who have no regard for anyone but themselves. This all may be true, but to dismiss it as such is to miss a vital element of rock'n'roll. 'England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond' stands as the best book on its subject, and as one of the finest books on the sociology of music in general.
Jon Savage was prescient enough to have kept his teenage journal from those long-ago days of London in the mid-to-late-70s, he is able to present us with a thorough, first-hand account to spice up his in-depth journalism. Throughout this work he quotes from it, giving us impressionistic, colorful glimpses of the time:
"30.10.76: I go see my first proper punk group. I know what it's going to be like: I've been waiting for years, and this year most of all: something to match the explosions in my head. The group are called the Clash; everybody I talk to says they're the best.... Within ten seconds I'm transfixed; within thirty, changed forever.
23.11.76...fascism here won't be like in Germany. It'll be English: ratty, mean, pinched, hand in glove with Thatcher as mother sadist over all her whimpering public schoolboys.
25.12.76: A party... in the kitchen downstairs, members of the Damned, the Clash and the Sex Pistols sit around a large table.... Halfway through the evening, the Heartbreakers arrive, and install themselves in a tight corner near the telephone, which Johnny Thunders uses to make hour-long calls to the US. Not collect.
25.12.78: Public Image Ltd, Rainbow Theatre, London. this, as expected, is mainly Rotten's show. Except now there is a new element of whining and self-justification...."
Savage goes so much deeper than just his own observations, deeper than any writer on British punk ever has or ever probably will. First he examines the British pop/youth cultural movements after World War 2, like the Mods and the skins and the Teddy Boys, before coming to that little shop at 430 King's Road. We get some myth-destroying insights into the origins of Malcolm McLaren's relationships with the burgeoning Sex Pistols; namely, that it originally was 18-year-old guitarist Steve Jones' band. Savage debunks the notion that the Pistols were--as is the common, popular perception today--the *NSync of their day. McLaren was great at hindsight, saying "Oh, I meant that to happen" when really it was all out of control. Quite a bit of the book deals with the utter contempt and frustration with which Johnny Rotten and later Sid Vicious felt towards this Fagin-esque character.
Savage also looks the punk scene in surrounding towns, such as the Buzzcocks in Manchester; the difficulty in getting clubs to book the bands; the sudden liberation (but not quite) young women felt, resulting in "stars" such as Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, and the Slits; the (sometimes fake, sometimes real) competition between the Pistols and their rivals the Clash; the utterly disastrous tour of southern American states by the Pistols; the fashion, the art, the impact the movement had on the rigidly structured British class system. His account of the Jubilee summer (1977 was the 25th year of Queen Elizabeth's reign), and the attendant boat ride up the Thames--the Sex Pistols performed "God Save the Queen," their inflammatory anti-royalty statement just as the boat passed Parliament--makes you realize that Punk gave a new meaning to "civil disobedience."
The self-immolation of the notoriously doomed Sid Vicious (and McLaren's ultimate exploitation of it) is dealt with by Savage tenderly:
"What happened next will always be a blur. In an account given by Vicious shortly before his death, he woke up from a Tuinol stupor in the light of the morning to find a trail of blood leading from a soaked bed to the bathroom.... he found Nancy lying under the sink with a hunting knife sticking in her side... Vicious went into complete shock--from which he would barely recover for the rest of his life. As the realization of what had occurred sank in, he panicked totally: the only person had ever cared for him was dead, by his knife, and he couldn't remember a thing."
Whew.
Another interesting aspect of the book are the analogies made between Punk--Savage capitalizes the word--and the major art movements of the 20th century. Sometimes this comes off as intellectual puffery, and yet in my thoughtful moments I think Savage is quite right to link McLaren's ideas with Dada, Surrealism, and Situationism. Rotten is compared to the young Rimbaud; the Clash wore Army fatigues splattered with colored paint a la Jackson Pollock; Subway Sect and other bands created music that seemed defiantly anti-music; and one cannot deny the primitive, art brut beauty of Xeroxed 'zines like Snffin' Glue, the flyers and the record sleeves.
Now more than ever punk is my favorite music--'70s punk, let me clarify--the Clash, the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, etc. just don't ever seem to lose their edge or their aura of chaos narrowly avoided. England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond is, ultimately, an inspiring testament to the creative powers of oppressed youth everywhere--may that flame never die.
Contrary to what the Pistols said, there IS a future: you just have to know how to throttle it with your bare hands....Rrrrrright--Now!


Avenue B
Avenue B
Price: $10.99
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iggy, mature and introspective--an oxymoron? Hell no!, October 27, 1999
This review is from: Avenue B (Audio CD)
What a sobering, reflective, naked album. I'm not sure how many of Ig's old fans this will appeal to, but actually I know a few people who are really thrilled he's taken some chances with this album. It's scary to listen to because he's so honest about himself, as in "She Called Me Daddy." I love the odd "Nazi Girlfriend" and "Miss Argentina." There are great tunes here, Iggy's in fine form, the production is smoky and understated, and even the cover "Shakin' All Over" has a muted, restrained feel that works. I'm glad Iggy's using his art to reflect the changes in his life; the opening lines "It was the winter of my 50th year when it hit me" are as bold and startling as anything the Stooges ever did--think about it: Iggy Pop has been with us for half of the twentieth century. Goddamn. Thanks, man. Thanks a lot.


All Those Wasted Years
All Those Wasted Years
Offered by Izabella'sBooks
Price: $9.95
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing wasted here--100% rock'n'roll!, October 27, 1999
This review is from: All Those Wasted Years (Audio CD)
A great, alas mostly forgotten, hard rock/glam band from those distant days of the early 80s. From the raucous, rampant energy of "Motorvatin'" to the sad, heartbroken lament of "Don't Never Leave Me" (re-arranged and recorded on their final album, "Two Steps from the Move"); from the bluesy, nightmarish howls of "Taxi Driver" (no, this is no ode to Travis Bickle) to the terrific covers that end the set: "Lightnin' Bar Blues," "Under My Wheels," "I Feel Alright" (actually it's the Stooges' "1970") and "Train Kept A-Rollin'," this is a terrific CD, and a bargain! When compared to other glam rock/metal bands of the same era (you know--Crue, Ratt, etc) those other guys don't stand a chance. About ten years ago I saw the live video for this, and it's amazing; they cover "Blitzkrieg Bop" too! Rock'n'roll this straight-up is a refreshing shot that burns!


Ramones Mania
Ramones Mania
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $8.37
209 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful indeed., July 14, 1999
This review is from: Ramones Mania (Audio CD)
I just want to thank the Ramones for making my life more enjoyable. I've got every album and know every word. Their music instantly puts a smile on my face. This one starts out perfect and never lets up. These are perfect rock songs and why they never achieved mass popularity convinces me of the dubious tastes of middle America. I mean, the 70s, Kiss?! Cheap Trick?! Peter Frampton?! Aerosmith!? Come on people! The Ramones ARE rock'n'roll. "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" alone is perhaps the greatest pop song ever written. The Ramones... thank you.


All The Stuff (And More), Vol. 2
All The Stuff (And More), Vol. 2
Offered by IMS Distribution
Price: $17.17
60 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer, unadulterated rock'n'roll brilliance!, July 10, 1999
The Ramones need no introduction to anyone who truly loves rock'n'roll. I don't even have to listen to these albums anymore; they're in my bloodstream, in my very brain cells. These songs are perfection, deranged pop tunes at breakneck speed laced with misfit wit ("Chewin' out a rhythm on my bubblegum/Sun is out and I want some"--"Hangin' out on 2nd Avenue/ Eatin' chicken vindaloo"--"I'm friends with the president/ I'm friends with the pope/ We're all makin' a fortune/ Sellin' daddy's dope") and a worldview colored by Joey's rose-tinted glasses. The unreleased songs here are terrific, like the gem "Slug," charming and Spector-esque, and the ode to Sid'n'Nancy, "I Don't Want to Live This Life." I love the Ramones for their belief that rock'n'roll should be fun , and for all the bands they paved the way for. If "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" isn't one of the most sublime and perfect pop songs ever written, what is? It's a real crime that these guys never got the mass popularity they deserved, but then, that's what makes them great; they're misfit heroes. 30 songs on one CD! All your favorites! Turn it up to 11!


The Inhuman Condition
The Inhuman Condition
by Dillinger Steele
Edition: Paperback
70 used & new from $0.01

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clive Barker--nothing more needs to be said., July 7, 1999
This review is from: The Inhuman Condition (Paperback)
This is probably the second or third Barker collection I came across, way back in 1987. I was a high school kid, immersed in King, Straub, Lovecraft, Koontz, but Barker was a writer I had to think about, someone whose writing style aimed above the usual 6th grade average. His images were unsettling and confusing--I remember coming to the end of the title story and thinking, "Wwwhaaat?" but that was so long ago. I credit Barker with making me a more discerning, sophisticated reader. Horror could be sharp with wit, laced with the blackest comedy, and subversive like the punk rock music I loved. He approached topics like sexuality and psychology unlike any other writer I had ever read. This book, Volume 5 of "The Books of Blood," is one of the very strongest. He toys with religious fanaticism and fundamentalism in "Revelations," with the Devil in the modern world in the fable "Down, Satan!" and with eros and extreme arousal in "The Age of Desire," one of my favorite stories by him. This was one that I would retell to my shocked friends at lunch. They wanted to be weird, to be outcast, but Ha! they weren't willing to go all the way. Barker, he goes all the way. He is, along with Harlan Ellison and Lovecraft himself, the only writer of any type of fiction, that I can reread now, over a decade later, with satisfaction and awe and respect. Clive Barker. Make no mistake.


The Customized Body
The Customized Body
by Ted Polhemus
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from $1.52

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best..., July 6, 1999
This review is from: The Customized Body (Paperback)
...of many recent books on body modification and the attendant culture. Probably the best follow-up to "RE/Search 12: Modern Primitives" in its respectful and knowledgeable approach. Exquisite black and white photos of beautifully adorned men and women, revealing themselves in every way: their desire for freedom and transformation, their sometimes troubled histories, their quest for new identities or for exploring their old ones. I used to work in an independent bookstore whose owner would get upset with me when I stocked books like this. Let some people live in a world of banality and the everyday; the rest, rejoice!


Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff (Creation Cinema Collection)
Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff (Creation Cinema Collection)
by David Kerekes
Edition: Paperback
31 used & new from $17.21

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the discerning film buff...., July 6, 1999
A much-needed, carefully researched book that looks into the darkest of cinematic shadows. I especially like that they debunk the snuff film industry. Also commendable are the copious footnotes and the exhaustive index that lists movies by their alternate titles, directors, and years of production--very helpful when scouring the video stores for "Guinea Pig 2," "Man Behind the Sun," or even "Gimme Shelter." Certainly it gets into some stomach-churning descriptions, but I appreciate the dispassionate approach to a topic usually dealt with by pandering, slavering idiots. These Creation books, man I love 'em.


Let It Bleed
Let It Bleed
Offered by Media Supplies Outlet
Price: $26.99
94 used & new from $0.69

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you don't like the Stones--you don't like rock'n'roll., June 16, 1999
This review is from: Let It Bleed (Audio CD)
Love it, love it, love it. The earthy, sloppy grittiness of the Stones from this period exhilirates me, makes me feel real... dirty. Yeah. "Live with Me" is so nasty and untamed... You can hear the desperation and decadence in "Gimme Shelter" and the wise-ass attitude in "Let It Bleed" (a great parody of "Let It Be"). Keith's "You Got the Silver" is disarmingly beautiful and soulful--"Feelin' foolish, yeah that's for sure, waitin' here by your kitchen door." What a great image--not the front door, or the bedroom door, but the kitchen door! And the swaggering, truly frightening "Midnight Rambler" is propelled by an unsettling current of sexual violence. "Well ya heard about the Boston--!!!... He's movin' like a sly black panther." But rock'n'roll is great because it IS scary, it should be, anyway, it should come from the gut and the spine and the crotch, and that's all. This is a magnificent album, I'm glad after all these years it retains all its power and threat.


Raw Power
Raw Power
59 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground zero rock'n'roll., April 30, 1999
This review is from: Raw Power (Audio CD)
An atomic blast, utterly ferocious and devastating--do not underestimate this album. It is what every hard-rock/metal/punk album has ever wanted to be. It is the serrated-tooth, gaping maw of death, where one transcends mere physical existence and becomes a larger, more profound being just by listening to it. A seething oblivion of roaring, shattering, piercing guitars and the apocalyptic madness of one Iggy Pop. He is the High Priest of front men. Imagine the soundtrack for the world in flames, and you have this album! The shocking energy displayed in the opener, "Search & Destroy" will fuse your spine--"Somebody gotta save my soul!" Iggy screams, exhorting his listeners: "Baby detonate for me! Oww!" Even the songs that slow down--"I Need Somebody" and "Gimme Danger" only add to the texture and deranged brilliance of this work. Have there ever been truer words spoken about love than "Hallucination- ah-true romance/I wanted love but I only lost my pants uh-huh"? Be so very careful when playing this CD--the new remix by Iggy himself will frighten you, no matter how many times you've heard it before. My heart always leaps in my chest when it explodes out of my stereo. This is why rock'n'roll was created: to terrify, excite, arouse and hurt you. Throw away your Kiss and Korn and Led Zeppelin albums--this is what you want!


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