Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture
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Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  608 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Energy Flash is the story of rave culture. The first critical history of the music as well as the drugs, Energy Flash charts the journey from Chicago house and Detroit techno to the blissed-out daze of acid house and 'Madchester', through the mass hysteria of early nineties hardcore rave and the birth of jungle, right up to today's glorious confusion of styles and scenes;...more
Paperback, 493 pages
Published 1998 by Picador
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Chris
Nov 28, 2007 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who lived it, but doesn't know why
I finally woke up in 2004, after a decade of living this book. Clubland, and Party Monster, are two other books that capture the essence of this so-called era.

It was very informative and quite revealing of how rave culture came about. It gives good insight into how the music was created, how the parties got started, where the drugs came from and what they did, and how and why it all ended.

I don't know what to say. If you never took part in any of it, and you want to understand what went on, the...more
Eric
This book is a very detailed, autobiographical history of electronic dance music. Reynolds bathes the book in fountains of extraneous adjectives. (I can easily visualize him doing lines of blow off a thesaurus page between writing sessions). Nevertheless, Generation Ecstasy is a great read for true EDM nerds like myself. I would love to see an updated edition including the Great Dubstep Revolution of 2005-2010. That is, if Reynolds' dopamine receptors can handle it.
Stefanie
Although a bit dated now, an excellent history of the origins of the rave scene in both the UK and America. This book stands out from others in the field due to 1) Reynolds skilled writing style, 2) his knowledge of the many variants of electronic music and ability to describe them for non-listeners, and 3) his theorizing about the meaning of the culture. He manages to demonstrate both that he's a fan and participant, but also able to turn a critical eye on the whole thing. If only this were req...more
Christopher
Simon Reynolds is a British music journalist (born in 1963) who has covered several different genres of popular music, but experiences in clubs, raves and with the drug Ecstasy have made a powerful impact on his life. Energy Flash is a voluminous survey of electronic dance music (EDM) and the culture (style, drugs) surrounding it since its start in the 1980s. The first edition of the book (titled Generation Ecstasy in the United States) appeared in 1998, but a second edition describes later deve...more
Frank Mitchell
It was a great read when it was first written. But with much of Simon Reynolds work, it has a very one sided British take on a very much American culture. Even though the scene was born in the U.K., it seems as this book was written to remind us all that that is where it came from, even though I still believe this book has it's good moments.
O'Hara
Even when you don't like the music his descriptions are brilliant.
In fact...one of the issues with reading pop journalism in the Spotify age is that often music sounds better in words than in life. This is so true of the rave that Reynolds describes. But good on 'im for trying to describe the "feel" of the sound rather than always the words/songwriter biography.
I'm with him that songwriting credits need to change, Jagger Richards are credited with the Stones classics, but the song wouldn't be th...more
Joe
I never realized how much house music (or, more innacurately, "techno") had in common with punk music. Both genres were born in the hands of untrained amateurs who took instruments and bent them very far from their original purpose. Reynolds overlays the many, many sub-genres of house against the waves of ecstasy that first hit in England and the U.S in the mid-80's, and continued on through the 90's. He argues, persuasively, that Ecstasy itself is a rather harmless drug that can create a sense...more
Tim
A decent history/memoir of electronic dance music from a music journalist and participant in the UK rave scene of the early 90s. As a fan of electronic dance music, I found it really interesting, but those not so inclined could find it a bit too encyclopedic. In addition, his biases get in the way somewhat; he really lets you know what styles he thinks are good and which he thinks are crap. That can be good in that it makes the book more personal and human, but inevitably you're going to disagre...more
Zach
Only decided to read select chapters, but here's my take on what I read.

The topic wasn't really down my alley, after all, but a lot of what Reynolds had to say about the ecstasy and rave culture was interesting. There were times when he name-drops left and right, making it hard to keep track of who's who. The writing, at times, can also get somewhat boring. Otherwise,

Overall, he profiles the scenes in Chicago, New York, and the U.K. completely and goes through all of the further influence rave...more
Myke
Reynolds chronicles Rave culture in both the UK and the US. Specific scenes include Detroit and the 'Madchester' scene of the late 80s early 90s among others.

The chapter i found most interesting was the section on what now gets called 'Intelligent Dance Music' e.g. Aphex Twin.
James Elliott
This is a really huge book, and occasionally goes into more train-spotting detail than even a new DJ who is deeply fascinated by and invested in the music can handle, but I found it well worth the effort to finish. I now have a much better sense of where the sounds I have so long enjoyed came from, how they relate to each other, and the details of the journey people took in creating and enjoying them are often delightful. The author definitely has strong opinions about the music, not all of whic...more
Amar Pai
Jul 07, 2007 Amar Pai rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of techno, drum and bass, acid house, summers of love, nutty hats, great drugs
I bought this in London. The British edition's title is "Energy Flash," which strikes me as a much more dignified choice. Either way, the book inside is a great encapsulation of dance culture in UKs during the age of pirate radios, massive shows at Fabric, ecstasy easy to get as beer, and music that it takes a serious brain to be able to talk about without sound like a total ponce. Reynolds is that brain. That man, I mean.
Brendan Detzner
I came in knowing very little about the subject matter, and this book did me the huge favor of showing me how much of what I thought I knew was completely off base. It generated some really interesting roommate conversations- "Hear this?" "Yeah, techno. German or something?" "This was made by black teenagers in Detroit trying to keep thugs from crashing their parties." "No." "Yes." "Dude, no." "Read the book." Very good stuff.
Kyle
As a detailed and passionate trip through a long history of dance culture, this is a great read. As an introduction to dance genres/culture for newbies, it will prove daunting in its scope and intellect. 'Energy Flash' is more for those already interested and versed in EDM; in that sense, reading it is like talking to an impassioned friend while sharing a pint.
Francis
I use this book regularly in my research around mdma, ecstasy, rave culture etc. there's a depth of information here that is vital. i'd also recommend his account of Sadie Plant, Nick Land and the cybernetic culture research unit at Warwick University:
http://energyflashbysimonreynolds.blo...
David Melik
This book lists several interesting musicians I would not have found out about otherwise. It is what I had read before Wikipedia for history of ambient/trance/techno/rave/hardcore/jungle/trip-hop/dub, bigbeat (the latter of which I only listen to a friends works of, unless stuff is on an old CD I have,) etc..
David
THE history of the Uk acid-house movement insightfully analysed and dissected by perhaps the best writer on musi cthat there is - Reynold's approach strikes a great balance between academic rigour and an immensely readable style. His books on post-punk and nostalgia/pop culture are equally impressive.
Jennifer
Read this in the early part of 2000's and it is a good education on the underground electronic dance revolution also know as Rave's. It is more about the origin of the music than drugs which I really liked so don't let the title mislead you to think it is about drugs only.
Ludovico
'Ardkore you know the score!!!
Fundmental compendium for anyone interested in the so called rave culture. Nice dot connecting between the drug (ab)use, the society and the music. The chapters on the Hardcore and Drum n bass scene gave me goose skin...
Rob
Sep 03, 2007 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nostalgic ravers
Decent retrospective. Take home feel: "Wish I was there!" As I recall, a scholarly sociological approach. Nothing Earth-shattering but probably a good one to have on the bookshelf in the living room or else lying around on the table. Nice pictures, too.
Edmole
Reading Simon Reynolds is as enjoyable as anything he writes about. And he writes about some enjoyable things. Look at the cover of this book though, right - IT'S ABOUT DRUGS. LOOK AT IT. DRUGS.
Mike
ehhh - never was a raver, but this is a really good documentary of the scene. Tried to listen to some of the tunes, never got as far as taking X or sucking on a pacifier - just not my style
Katrina
Great book about the history of rave culture. I read this years ago when I was still doing my own share of partying and I'd like to read it again.
A.
The first (relatively) comprehensive history of the rave scene, at least from the UK perspective. Have 2 copies; will share one.
Amar Pai
This is the British edition. The American version was republished as "Generation Ecstasy" or some such.
Alexander S
Decent book. Pretty informative, and an easy read. Not many books on this subject.
Marko
It's pretty good. I don't know much about techno music, and this is informative and fun.
Chuck Pee
I love anything that has to do with electronic music culture
Structure
Note to self: Read everything Simon Reynolds
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Simon Reynolds is one of the most respected music journalists working today, and his writing is both influential and polarizing. He draws on an impressive range of knowledge, and writes with a fluid, engaging style. His books Rip it Up and Start Again and Generation Ecstasy are well-regarded works about their respective genres, and RETROMANIA may be his most broadly appealing book yet. It makes an...more
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