The other night I went to go see J. Forte's band play, J. Forte and the Secret Pop Band, at Galaxy Hut. It was a good time, and I got to see a bunch of the "TR+" crew (people I used to work w/ at TR and their various significant others and the whole extended TR family!). The opening band was Greg Shook's new band, The breakUps, who did a bunch of 60s garage rock style r-n-r (complete w/ nice covers). J and the SP band put on a good show w/ all his new stuff -- good tunes! I always enjoy an earful of some secret pop.
Anyway, Steve Shook and I were talking after the show about the book, Rip It Up and Start Again, which is a new-ish book about the post punk scene from roughly '78-'83. I finished reading the book about month ago, and after talking about it with Steve I started thinking about it again. Even though I'm not into a lot of the bands that were covered in the book (Throbbing Gristle, Swell Maps, Pere Ubu, Slits, Scitti Polliti, all the Rough Trade stuff, etc), I found it to be a really good read -- very informative, well written, well researched. And even though I didn't like or wasn't familiar w/ the bulk of the bands written about, I was still interested in a lot of the ideas behind the music they created and the scenes that drove those ideas. Of course, the book covered stuff that I did and/or still do like to varying degrees -- PiL, Specials and all 2-Tone, Aztec Camera, Joy Division, New Order, Talking Heads -- so that was enough to keep me reading. The "social history" aspect of it though was pretty interesting since I really had no idea what was behind a lot of those scenes (the book focuses mostly on the UK stuff). Bottom line: I'd recommend this book to anyone who's at all interested in that time period of music.
One point that the author makes is that there has never been a more diverse, creative, fast-evolving, anything-goes period in pop music history. Interesting idea, I think, and thinking about it in an objective way, I might have to agree. Even though I don't like most of the stuff that came out then that would be considered post punk, the author, Simon Reynolds, really conveys his enthusiasm for what was happening then, in terms of capturing the spirit and mindset of the bands. For example, dub and reggae was a big influence on most of the music that came directly after the Pistols broke up. Then things progressed from there incorporating all sorts of styles and ideas -- dance music (disco), industrial, goth, ska, electronic, ultra produced pop music.
Anyway, it prompted me to complete my Post Punk Chronicles collection (on Rhino) by buying the CD I was missing from the three CD series, Scared to Dance. Can't say I love it, but I'm happy that I now know, for example, what the Pop Group sounds like -- bloody 'orrible! But there's some cool stuff on it, like Killing Joke and Echo & the Bunnymen.
So, check out the link to Simon Reynolds's site, and also I found a site called Post Punk Junk which has mp3s of old post punk stuff (and beyond) and, of course, junk.