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The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings On Rock Music

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,216 ratings  ·  47 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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185th out of 436 books — 752 voters
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30th out of 42 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

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Kimley
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...more
Heather
*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...more
Mk100
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
Albert
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
Jade
Aug 12, 2010 Jade rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Jarvo
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

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...more
minnie
Rock Journalism from someone who seemed to always be an insider, but wrote about it all ,for us to read.
Jeb
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
Steve
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...more
Katherine
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
Natalie
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
Godzilla
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...more
Anna
Aug 11, 2007 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Shelby
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
Sonya
Apr 26, 2012 Sonya rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Eric Stone
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
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
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
Tosh
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.
Matt Olsen
Awesome! It's like a Klosterman book (in terms of it being mostly about celebrities and experiences relating to dealing with them) except ƒrom a totally different era--mostly being the 70s. Highly recommended for any Klosterman fan looking for a change of pace
Jt
Stuff is misleading, and here Nick Kent provides decades worth of his experiences with "rock stars" and their antics, which one can call "stuff" and "dark" and have it mean something really cool if they're stoned enough when they hear it.
Richard MacManus
Fantastic interviews/stories about some of the major rock musicians of the past 30 years or so. One criticism is that there was too much focus on their hedonistic lifestyles. But still, interesting rock criticism.
Chris
Anyone who wants to know how to write the perfect celebrity interview needs to read this book. Nick Kent is a genius, and this book provided me with endless poolside entertainment during a recent holiday in Mexico.
Benji
Some great articles about Brian WIlson, Roky Erickson, Lou Reed and a bunch of others. The Brian Wilson one is probably the best... followed by Roky Erickson explaining that he is the right hand of the devil.
Reecie
This book taught me what I may have already sort of known, ie. pretty much anyone who is extremely talented and creative is also COMPLETELY INSANE and has ABSOLUTELY NO SELF-CONTROL. Good times.
Katie Edmonds
got this as a gift, just like "please kill me". this is more of a personal opinion style of writing, but his perspective on the scene is intimate and revealing.
Christian
Freakin sweet - all the dirt you could want on the fractured lives of rockers like Iggy Pop, the Stones, Brian Wilson, Sid Barrett, etc etc. great stuff.
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