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The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings On Rock Music

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,556 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Rock journalism on: Brian Wilson, Guns’N’Roses, Roky Erickson, The New York Dolls, Sid Vicious, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis, The Pogues, Lou Reed, Syd Barrett, The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Kurt Cobain
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 21st 1995 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 31, 2009 Kimley rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Rock 'n' roll, the great visceral release for the middle class. Everyone fantasizes at some point about either being the bad boy or doing the bad boy (or both as the case may be)*. Nick Kent looks at the truly dark side of living the rock 'n' roll life - not the glamorous, delightfully-high-with-a-groupie-on-each-arm side - but the OD on heroin in a bathroom alone side, the losing your mind until you're a vegetable side.

And Kent has the street cred to pull this off, having been a rock 'n' roller
Jan 02, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
*Back-dating reviews based on snips I find*

Originally, I had the idea of this book skewed. I thought it was a string of interviews with the people in question throughout this book. At first, it took a little to get into since it wasn’t what I had expected but when I grasped what Kent was actually doing, I read through this book at unimaginable speed.

Profiling many musicians through his own experiences and interviews with others as well as the people in question, he paints so many pictures most w
Jul 07, 2012 Mk100 rated it it was amazing
With this collection of essays and interviews, Nick instantly became one of my favorite Rock 'N' Roll writers ever. His work is so incisive and clever, so uncompromising and unwilling to bow to the claims of celebrity, that I think he easily stands with Lester Bangs (with whom he apprenticed) as the great diarists of The End Of The World As We Know It and (Nick feels fine), His own descent into more than a decade of heroin addiction is extremely harrowing, and mainly told separately in Apathy Fo ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Albert rated it liked it
It's about rock music, so I'll like it just for that automatically. It's about punk rock and post punk England, again an automatic like. Then I read it and am less enthused, as this is the writer who got his head kicked in by Sid Vicious and was the annoying rock critic cliche in the Channel 4 Smiths documentary back in the day. Suffice it to say Nick Kent is a self-important twat who just happened to be around during a cool time in British music. Well, goody goody gumdrops for him. Nick Kent ca ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Jade rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
A great selection of journalism from a great writer. Kent takes you into the lives of the world's most notorious performers and builds a world of both tragedy and humour, which makes you feel at home with each indivdual. The only problem I found in this book was that it got a little samey throughout the middle, only because nearly every character has the same drug and alcohol problems. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of reading and am now wanting to take my taster session into a f ...more
Alastair Doughty
Jan 27, 2014 Alastair Doughty rated it really liked it
This was a re-read of one of my favourite anthologies of music journalism, exploring the seamier side of the scenes. The chapter on Syd Barrett is a beautiful and honest melancholy tribute. My favourite is the chapter on Miles Davis, "Lightening up with the Prince of Darkness". This contains the genius observation that the logic of Miles' position in any exchange is based on the premise that "he is Miles Davis and you are not". Never have I known such a brilliant summary of the formidable nature ...more
May 30, 2015 Othniel rated it really liked it
Nick Kent, as well as being one of the legendary UK music journalists, is also something of a rock'n'roll insider (former lover of Chrissie Hynde; performer on one of the great, lost post-punk singles, "My Flamingo" by The Subterraneans), as well as having a well-documented history with illegal substances. It comes as no surprise, then, that this book, a collection of features and revisited interviews, largely focuses on the damage wrought by drug use.

Beginning with a novella-length account of t
Tim Niland
Nov 09, 2014 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
British rock writer and critic Nick Kent has seen a great deal in a career that has lasted from the early 1970's to the present day. His criticism and narratives are cutting but thoughtful, looking to move beyond an artist's obfuscation in search of a deeper truth. Fascinated by loners and cranks, it's strange that a journalist associated with punk would pen a epic observation of the Beach Boys Brian Wilson, but he really finds a deep story in Wilson's genius, foibles and descent of madness. Pro ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Jarvo rated it liked it
Nick Kent is a fabulous writer, and to some extent I feel a bit parsimonious in only giving this three stars. It is a collection of his journalism from the seventies and eighties, much of it culled from the NME his eminence he did much to establish. It is missing a str or two because I felt that there were just a few too many pieces which didn't necessarily leave me feeling that much more enlightened - see the peices on Elvis Costello, Morrissey and The Stones Roses as examples. Admittedly the l ...more
Carole Tyrrell
Feb 18, 2014 Carole Tyrrell rated it really liked it

I had already read the first edition of this book when it first came out in 1994 and really enjoyed it. It included two of my favourite pieces of rock journalism by Nick Kent, Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett two voyagers on the sea of drugs and mental disintegration. One of whom came back and it can still be disconcerting to see someone of the stature of Brian Wilson looking very confused and worried in performance on TV and the other, Syd Barrett, vanishing into silence.
However, I didn’t much car
Patrick Neylan
Of course I remember Nick Kent. In the sense that I remember all those self-declared musical savants of the my youth: Paul Morley, Lester Bangs, Charles Shaar Murray, Paul du Noyer, Julie Burchill and of course Nick Kent. But I seldom remember which was which except Gary Bushell (because he was occasionally funny but more usually a complete tool) and Geoff Barton (because he alone championed my then-beloved heavy metal and wrote the highly misleading sleeve notes to my first Deep Purple album, w ...more
Dec 13, 2007 minnie rated it really liked it
Rock Journalism from someone who seemed to always be an insider, but wrote about it all ,for us to read.
Nikolas Kalar
"It was real 'heart of darkness' music in the classic Kurtzian sense and a lot further down the river of no return, sonically speaking, than their debut." This is the kind of writing by Nick Kent, talking here about the Stooges' second album Fun House, that makes me enjoy this collection more than the previous collection of rock oriented essays I read by Lester Bangs. As much as he is music man, Kent is also a literary man, with writing that surpasses self-obsession that I felt tripped up Bangs ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Jeb rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music
A fascinating collection of articles by rock journalist Nick Kent, who spent much time interviewing and hanging out with the baddest, the saddest and ugliest characters in the rock scene. There are more misfits and brooding cats here than you can shake a drumstick at. The netherworld of rock 'n' roll is portrayed in all its glorious decadence. Petty ego-trips, insane drug intake, infantile bickering, and sad musings; all this is what made, makes, and will continue to make rock music the magnific ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, bio, kindle, music
Insightful glimpse into the world of music creators -- from Johnny Cash to Sid Vicious. The chapter on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys is worth the price of the book.
Kent has a gonzo writing style which he carries off well.

"the bulbous boom that is Barry White was serenading various species of pond-life"

"If his talent as a composer was simply non-existent, his lack of success as a father was to prove rather more significant. Put simply, the man was a sadist and what he practiced on his three son
Mar 20, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it
I ate up these dark, unedited versions of the rockers' lives. Well, let's clarify "rockers." The thing about Kent's book is that... Well, some weren't what I consider rock and rollers. To be clear, I'm 22 years old. Brian Wilson to me was a pioneer and one hell of an interesting story, but the Beach Boys? I was expecting those crazy stories we all hear about Led Zeppelin, etc. However, the book is worth the read for more than a few stories (Rolling Stones, The Smiths, Brian Wilson, Miles Davis, ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of chapters (or essays) on musicians with a dark side whether its drugs, aggression or a grandiose sense of self worth. Regardless of being a fan or not of the various subjects I found this utterly compelling and informative. Artists I know well (e.g. Brian Wilson or Mick Jagger) are shown to be just as you might imagine in their prime whereas the chapters on artists I have read less about (e.g. Jerry Lee Lewis or Roky Erikson) serve as tasters to the madness of their c ...more
Ryan  C.
Apr 13, 2016 Ryan C. rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite rock criticism/jpurnalism book. Excellent piece on Brian Wilson. Not sure why Kent isn't always mentioned in the upper echelon of critics, at least not in the US. I like his work way more than Bangs and Marcus.
A wonderful, diverse collection of interviews compiled from Nick Kent's long career.

There truly should be something for every music fan in here, or else you're not really a music fan!

Given Kent's history he's the perfect foil for tales of excess and depravity, and he pulls few punches. I even sensed that he's not overly fond of Sid Vicious!

The writing is good, even better when you realise that some sections have been pulled together from a few different interviews over the years.

I learnt a lot a
Aug 11, 2007 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gob-spitters, anti-emos
Shelves: addiction, hard-tack
Been a while since I read this one, but it falls into the "wanted to live like" category of Withnail and I, Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same, and (gasp) at one point, a heady mixture of Colette, de Sade's Justine, and Anna Kavan.

Oh, being 20 is a consistent kind of stupid.

Read this off the back of seeing Jarman's "Jubilee" and was increasingly obsessed with the birth of punk and that time in Britain, all stinking garbage, strict social mores and invisible povo youth.

Kent was there, gettin
Apr 25, 2016 Rachael rated it it was ok
Most of the content is just recycled tales from other sources that Nick Kent passes off as his own research.

I was dissapointed with the content.
Feb 24, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it
solid writing. nothing new is revealed, but solid nonetheless.
Sep 28, 2010 Shelby rated it really liked it
This collection of rock journalism covered the early 1970s through the mid-2000s, specifically the drug casualties and more extreme artists that the writer came into contact with in that period (Brian Wilson, Brian Jones, Keith Richars, Iggy Pop, NY Dolls). I found much of the writing to be a pretty rote chronology of the respective rockers' careers though, spiced up with a laundry list of substances they were consuming and a few stories of depravity here and there. My enjoyment of the book was ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Sonya rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Great essays on American and British Rock n' Roll scene. When Kent titled it 'The Dark Stuff' he wasn't kidding. It's about an insane amount of drugs, sex, betrayal, and tragedies all packed into the 60s till the early 90s. You'll discover some of your favorite RnR classics like 'Sloop John B' by Beach Boys or 'I'll be Your Mirror' by The Velvet Underground were often created from a soup of drugs, obsession, zeal, and miserly contemplation.

Regardless, I still appreciate Kent's role as a tell-it
Eric Stone
Jan 09, 2012 Eric Stone rated it it was ok
Was it Frank Zappa who once described rock music writing as being by writers who can't write for readers who can't read? That isn't quite apt for this collection of profiles, but it's not far off either. Like too much "new journalism" it's more about the writer than his subjects and a lot of it is deliberately obtuse and addled. A friend who normally has pretty good taste in books recommended it to me. He was wrong. I didn't give it one star because it wasn't quite terrible. But it wasn't good, ...more
Christopher Rex
Feb 28, 2009 Christopher Rex rated it liked it
A great read for the fan of Rock n' Roll through the ages. Something for every rock fan is here - from Brian Wilson to the 1970s Stones to the Clash to Nirvana to Guns n' Roses (and many more). Laid out in a manner that allows the reader to bounce around and pick their way through in whatever order they see fit. Highly readable....the dark side of Rock n' Roll exposed. Great for those who don't want to read an entire biography of a rock band or artist...or who are looking to whet their appetite ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jul 15, 2009 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: punk-rock-etc
Nick Kent isn't quite the UK's Lester Bangs, but these lurid, scaborous, hilarious, and highly opinionated profiles are unerringly insightful. A fine interviewer and prose stylist, Kent's pieces on Brian Wilson, New York Dolls, Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, and Sid Vicious capture their subjects at their moment of incandescent glory and then track the often messy aftermath.
Matt Brant
Contains many profiles and interviews about various artists, including Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Brian Jones, Guns & Roses, Roky Erickson, The New York Dolls, Sid Vicious, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis, The Pogues, Lou Reed, Syd Barrett, The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, and Kurt Cobain. Well worth reading for those into reading about rock music
Oct 13, 2015 Miles rated it really liked it
So good it made me forget I hate Neil Young.

For a little while.
Jan 02, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
Nick Kent is a British music writer that is so cool that he now lives in Paris. Well, I like him for other reasons as well. One he's a wonderful writer and he hints or smells out the doomed rock set with wit and a certain amount of passion. This is rock writing essential must have for your library.
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