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The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock'N'Roll Paperback – August 27, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Sex Revolts is a book for those who don't just love rock music, but who also love to think about it. The book's subtitle, "Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll" might seem to presage solemn windiness. Yet the book is trenchantly written, well-researched (complete with footnotes and a helpful bibliography) and covers a very wide array of musicians. Best of all, the book is an entertaining way to bring yourself up to speed on many of rock's current upstarts.


With The Sex Revolts music critics and sonic psychoanalysts Simon Reynolds and Joy Press delve deep beneath glib exteriors to forage among rock's dank sociosexual underpinnings...It is an analysis, not a polemic--but they do articulate the issues with a high degree of lucidity. (Neva Chonin San Francisco Bay Guardian)

The Sex Revolts is a monumental addition to the rock-crit canon. (Village Voice)

What Simon Reynolds and Joy Press are offering us is not a guide to the distaff side of pop music but a startlingly acute reading of rock through the lens of gender...One of the only really important books yet written about popular music culture...What [Reynolds and Press] have achieved with The Sex Revolts is formidable: we may never be able to listen to rock music in the same way again. (Barney Hoskyns Observer)

An absolute delight...The most stimulating, provocative, enjoyable and intelligent book on rock and its relation to our world since Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces. (Gay Times)

Possibly the best analytic/critical tome this decade...Charged, challenging, and essential for anyone who still believes pop deserves to be approached with a little intelligence. (Melody Maker)

Press and Reynolds range freely and effectively outside the narrow definition of rock culture. Their persuasive analysis of rebel misogynies starts with the phenomenon of 'postwar mom-ism', and proceeds via Look Back in Anger, On the Road, Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary to a clear understanding of how Jimi Hendrix came to 'remember a city by its chicks'...One of the most impressive things about The Sex Revolts is the way it manages not to lose its moorings...in a sea of erudition...Reynolds and Press have opened up a new frontier of critical dissension and contumely. For that, all those who love rock should salute them. (Ben Thompson New Statesman & Society)

Unabashed fans of male chauvinists from Jim Morrison to the Australian cult favorite Nick Cave, [Reynolds and Press] are also eloquent in their praise of a more womanly `oceanic' aesthetic they discern in figures as diverse as the German avant-garde group Can, the punk poet Patti Smith, and Joni Mitchell's far-flung heiresses. Let's hope that this is not the last cross-disciplinary work that owes its ambitions to the cultural studies movement while refusing to succumb to academic provincialism and jargon. (Robert Christgau New York Times Book Review)

Joy Press and Simon Reynolds display a breadth of knowledge and research that ought to be demanded from Cultural Studies books, a range of examples from the most mainstream to Godflesh and Hugo Largo, with every prominent figure in between...The Sex Revolts is right up there with the best tomes on Rock--Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces or Savage's England Dreaming--and deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who cares passionately about the Rock discourse. (Nick Terry The Lizard)

This is rock criticism on the high slopes, brave, rigorous and endlessly well-read. The book's grand themes are sustained throughout and the authors are endlessly interesting, even about the many marginal and extreme figures on whom much of their arguments rest...This book is ultimately a landmark in rock and gender criticism precisely because it's a beacon of coherence that's also hip enough to convey the fact that rock is often at its most profound when it appears to be talking in tongues. (Mojo)

Emerges as the only complete analysis of gender in rock music. The writing is intelligent, evocative, and engaging, rich in thought without becoming ponderous. Even those readers who question the authors' nervy paradigms will find this an authoritative, comprehensive history of rock. Thorough, unique, and challenging...Highly recommended. (Library Journal)

The language is punchy and erudite throughout. Phrases like 'invertebrate goo' resonate. Students of modern mythmaking should consider this required. (Cover)

Reynolds and Press's provocative and insightful The Sex Revolts should be read by everyone concerned with rock culture's impact. What differentiates this book from previous efforts...is its serious treatment of the central theme--the complex relationships among gender, rebellion, and rock music...It is the confluence of carefully considered text, numerous footnotes, and a broad-ranging bibliography that shape and support the critical analysis. This timely volume adds reasoned understanding to a high profile-issue. It is strongly recommended. (Choice)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067480273X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674802735
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,289,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Fundamentally, this book offers a great overview and analysis of much of the "important" rock music put out since the Rolling Stones. The first two-thirds of the book look at many many (mostly male) rock artists and the various ways they relate to the act of creation, the opposite sex, their instruments and the final product through the expression of their gender. The guitar as phallus, feedback as amniotic fluid, etc. It is very interesting, and whether right or wrong, forces one to consider the music in a new way. Generally, I feel, the authors are right on the money with their analyses even when the reader is forced to groan outloud (an analogy involving Lynard Skynard and intercourse springs to mind). The last third of the book deals almost exclusivly with female (and effeminate) artists and leads to a theory concerning the nature of a female rock and roll and whether or not one exists. They don't provide a physiological answer to any questions(although their earlier analyes could have pointed to this). Instead, the authors view rock as a male creation that females may coopt for their own, feminist expression through lyrical content. However, Rock music, as we know it, cannot expression the truly *feminine* because no women have come along and turned the music on its head. Some examples of people who have come close include the Raincoats and Kristin Hersh. Of course, the theory can't really be summarized here, but one leaves the book wondering if the authors call for the creation of a true female music is just a call for a new genre because they are board with what they know. And what they know was demonstrated in the first two-thirds of the book. A good read for the rock fan and the aspiring gender critic.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a groundbreaking study of rock musicians' fascination with femininity.
The authors have exposed the meanings behind the songs - everything from misogyny to love.
By using examples ranging from the 60s to the 90s, from pop to punk, they show trends that may not be apparent to the casual listener.
The theories and conclusions are sometimes surprising, sometimes evident, but always intriguing.
It is well written and researched.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in what lies behind the music.
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