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England's Dreaming: Les Sex Pistols Et Le Mouvement Punk

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  3,288 ratings  ·  93 reviews
England's Dreaming is the ultimate book on punk, its progenitors, the Sex Pistols, and the moment they defined for music fans in England and the United States. Savage brings to life the sensational story of the meteoric rise and rapid implosion of the Pistols through layers of rich detail, exclusive interviews, and rare photographs. This fully revised and updated edition o
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Published (first published October 21st 1991)
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Moira Russell
It is a REAL question if I will finish this, and it's about one of my favourite periods of musical history! Page 6: "Evocations of the thirties environment characteristic of the babyboomer childhood -- a process which would peak with that palace of fun, Biba's superstore -- went hand in hand with the fine-art codification in 1968 of thirties styles under the term Art Deco." Who the fucking fuck writes like that? Did he program a robot?

(Also, NO, clothing did not 'become' costume in fucking -1968...more
Geevee
Jul 11, 2014 Geevee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to read and enjoy the real story of the Sex Pistols
This an insightful record of the Sex Pistols' formation and their short and frantic career that helped change British music and challenged on aBritish society on a number of levels.

The author has given readers a very well written account with many good, and for me unseen, photos. It provides social, economic and music/fashion background from the 1950s through to the explosion of Punk on both sides of the Atlantic (including some interesting info on France).

On reading this I was reminded at how...more
Greg
I really liked this book when I read it. I would probably hate it now and put it in the same league as anything Griel Marcus has written on punk.
Godzilla
It's taken me a while to get through this, not because the book was dull or hard work, but because of the sheer volume of information inside, covering a relatively short time span. plus the fact it was too unwieldy for reading on my commute (how punk does that sound!)

I'm giving it 5 stars on the basis that it covers the subject matter so well, plenty of other people seem able to find fault with it, but to my mind they're merely nit picking.

If you have any interest in the punk era this book will...more
Ron
The most remarkable aspect of the Punk movement is that it was largely engineered by a shallow, politically disinterested, art school failure (multiple times) who turned clothier to young Brits in the late 60s and early 70s. Malcolm McLaren flirted with the works of such disparate entities as the Situationists, the French Anarchists and even the Fluxus crowd, but he was a largely directionless man who went with the capitalist tide and sold anything to anyone, regardless of political stripe. He w...more
Jonathan Mitchell
Surfing the reviews here, I get the sense that some folks rather resented being challenged by Jon Savage's near-exhaustive history of punk. (Fair enough, I guess. For those who are interested in sex-and-drugs gossip unencumbered by the slightest attempt at analysis, there's always "Please Kill Me".) But Savage isn't talking down to you; he piles up all those references to music, fashion and literature to demonstrate that punk didn't occur in a vacuum. Readers ought to find the genre's pedigree f...more
Katey
If you aren't interested in punk or the Sex Pistols, obviously skip this one. If you are, ask yourself "How interested am I?" before delving into it. It's long, and, at times, trying and tedious. I realise that even the briefest of historical moments can be long and winding when written about, and I appreciated all the precursory info about McLaren and Sex, and the most enjoyable for me was middle of the book, the section about the Pistols forming and gathering momentum; punk gathering momentum....more
Kevin Tole
Jon Savage has managed to produce a very excellent and readable book. This must have been quite a task given the plethora of material but the complete, and in some cases deliberate camouflaging of events and reasons, that could have led to either some kind of hero worshipful bible-like book or to the usual skim, have generally been avoided. Mr Savage has made an excellent review of the period and analysed the precursors whilst managing to keep the sense of wonder that was there all through the p...more
Mike Ingram
This book sure is long. It's exhaustive, which in a certain way is a good thing. But the writing is often disappointingly flat. Could've used an appendix to make up for lack of descriptive clarity about various people (i.e., people would be introduced, then go away, then pop back up and for the life of me I wouldn't be able to remember who they were).
Rebecca
brilliant history, not only of the sex pistols, but of the whole punk movement and cultural turmoil in britain at the time. i would love to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with jon savage, his knowledge is encyclopaedic.
James
This may be the longest thing I have ever read. This is almost a day-by-day account of the Sex Pistols. I am particuarly fascinated by Malcolm Mclaren and want to read more about him.
Paul
Detailed and comprehensive history of punk; well researched and well written. Hang on a minute; this is a history book and it's my youth they're talking about. Getting old !!
Darran Mclaughlin
OK. To be honest most of this was pretty familiar to me from years of listening to and reading about punk music. It wasn't as eye opening as a book like Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff Chang on Hip Hop, or Rip it up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds on Post Punk, or The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross on Modern Classical. Still, it's a good book. Most of all it was interesting to immerse myself in an era in which a large subculture dedicated itself to a totally bohemian, anti-corporate, anti bourgeois...more
Bosco Farr
This is the definitive work on the first generation English punk rock explosion. One of the best books on punk rock ever. You want be able to put it down.
Raegan Butcher
All you ever wanted or needed to know about England's nascent punk scene. A must have for fans of the Sex Pistols.
Michael
it's not Please Kill Me, but the Sex Pistol weren't the Stooges. Still pretty great.
Gordy
I found this book very informative on the subject of punk. Liked the background of characters given and the way things are given their historical context. I would read this book again as I was surprised at how much there is in there and how clever many of the concepts and thinking behind the movement there is. It was also refreshing to read a quite different account of key people who have been given an otherwise raw deal by the press an society etc.

The first 2/3 of the book I found to be a roll...more
Rob
History was created by those who say "no" as Savage claims at the back of this book and during Royal Wedding week in the UK, this seems more relevant than ever - especially in view of the Sex Pistols' attempted hijacking of a previous royal event, the 1977 Silver Jubilee.

An exhaustive account of the early days of punk and the rise and fall of the Pistols in particular, this volume deserves its place in the pantheon of classic rock literature. What astonishes is the ability of people at the time...more
Tom Nixon
I don't know when I fell in love with punk music, but I did. Probably because of Green Day's album Dookie more than anything else, though at the time, I didn't know what punk was, much less have an appreciation of Green Day's place within the genre. But Green Day eventually lead to The Cure, The Cure to Joy Division, Joy Division to the Sex Pistols and from there, out to the Clash, Rancid, Social Distortion, Siouxsie and the Banshees. The emotional energy of punk, the sheer raw power of its soci...more
Drew
A remarkable book that takes a headlong run at the story of punk and comes away with ringing ears, covered in spit, track-marks, cuts and bruises, but holding a couple of interesting trophies.

The first of these is the deconstruction of the McLaren myth, showing the utterly haphazard nature of how UK proto-punk moved from being an insignificant scene at the end of the King's Road to the touch-paper for a worldwide cultural revolution. Rather than moulding his protegés, McLaren comes across as an...more
Mike Clarke
'Face front, we got the future/Shining like a piece of gold/But I swear as we got closer/It looks like a lump of coal' - The Clash: All The Young Punks.

Any book whose first word is 'juxtaposition' is going to struggle from the outset to shake off the chains of pretension. And larded with plaudits such 'a claim to be the definitive work on the subject' (The Times, no less) and 'flawless' (Esquire), a book could very well sink beneath the weight of its own cleverness and self-regard.

That Jon Sava...more
Brett
I don't claim to be an expert on music or music criticism, but England's Dreaming is probably the best book on music that I've read. The subject is the English punk movement of the 1970s and its context. Savage writes like an academic even though it's a topic clearly close to his heart, and his prose is interspersed with selections from his personal diary from the time-period.

England's Dreaming deals cogently with the contradictions of punk: right-wing imagery and left-wing politics, art studen...more
Eugenia Williamson
My favorite rock bio - just enough psuedo-academic social analysis to really excite!
Neil Kernohan
This book is a meticulously researched and lucidly written account of the genesis, development and ultimate demise of the late 70s "punk rock" movement spearheaded by The Sex Pistols, a group of working class urchins from London, and their street hustler manager Malcolm McLaren.
The book covers McLaren pottering about in the early 70s on the avant garde fringe of the sex fetish/fashion industry and then the Pistols' rise from a bunch of talentless roughnecks hanging around London's pub rock scen...more
Judy
Das ist mit Abstand das allerschlechteste Sachbuch, das ich jemals gelesen habe. Ich quäle mich gerade noch durch die letzten Seiten, weil die darin enthaltenen Infos über die Zeit Ende der Siebziger so interessant sind.

Aber es ist einfach schlecht geschrieben!
Kaum eine erkennbare Handlungs-Ablauf-Linie (außer grobem zeitlichem Ablauf), keine notwendigen Erläuterungen zu Hintergründen sind eingebaut. Stattdessen wird Name Dropping der übelsten Art betrieben, als ob man nach vierzig Jahren als A...more
Fluffy Singler
Savage's writing is very erudite and this is a picture not only of punk in England and the US, but of the cultural conditions surrounding punk. Punk is a very contested genre. I was about 12 at the time of the Sex Pistols and I didn't come to love them or the Clash until I came into my own politically in the early 1980s. Every single book I have read about punk, including Lydon's autobiography, Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces, and Julian Temple's film the Filth and the Fury, give somewhat differen...more
Jarvo
One of life's greatest pleasures is being able to tell people who like something that its good, but not as good as it used to be (eg this works well with people who've only been to New York post gentrification). I'm sure John Savage has this spades for anyone who came to punk in 1977 or later. For he was in there from the very beginning. This is a lavishly detailed story of the punk movement generally and the Pistols in particular. The focus is on 1976 and a movement which is more influenced by...more
Ben Kundman
In depth, captiving story of the origins of punk. I couldn't put it down.
Joe
Not just the best book about punk rock ever, but probably the best book about a subculture ever. What's particular impressive is the way Savage manages to tell the Pistols' story as an engaging narrative about the small number of individuals involved, while also touching on all kinds of other, more peripheral and sometimes more interesting bands, as well as all the theory and politics that was going on before and around and after punk. As my partner once said about another book, I wish I could t...more
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