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Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
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Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  5,416 Ratings  ·  263 Reviews
Punk's raw power rejuvenated rock, but by the summer of 1977 the movement had become a parody of itself. RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN is a celebration of what happened next.

Post-punk bands like PiL, Joy Division, Talking Heads, The Fall and The Human League dedicated themselves to fulfilling punk's unfinished musical revolution. The post-punk groups were fervent modernists; w
Paperback, 577 pages
Published 2006 by Faber and Faber (first published April 21st 2005)
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May 03, 2016 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: listmakers, review-heads
Recommended to Brandon by: Wiggins
Here is a band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out a great record. Here's why it was great. Then they became less great and broke up. Here is another band. They put out ...more
Jun 24, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The standard narrative of the pop music history of the late 70’s and early 80’s has the bracing musical revolution of punk quickly degenerating into the more commercial and co-optable form of New Wave. Punk is the honest, authentic voice of political and aesthetic revolution, while New Wave is the watered down, corrupted, commercialized version of that impulse. Now there’s a grain of truth to this interpretation, but it misses a few things about punk that were quickly to drive it into an aesthet ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what happened: I bought the US edition of this book back when it was released, read it, loved it. Six months or so later, I learned that the original UK edition had been cut all to hell for its US release. Something like 200 pages had been removed in order to pare the US edition down to its 400 page final length. I was shocked and appalled, but never knew quite how to get myself a copy of the UK edition, short of doing an international order through Amazon UK, which I told myself would b ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Warning: do not read this book unless you have ready access to Spotify or some other music subscription service that allows you to listen to entire albums without purchasing them, or else you will go bankrupt trying to catch up with the Fall, James Chance and the Contortions, the Associates and a hundred other bands with which you were vaguely familiar but suddenly find fascinating thanks to Simon Reynolds' writing. This is the best work of music history, and one of the best history books, I hav ...more
A thorough and intellectual (sometimes a little too thorough and intellectual) overview of British and American post-punk art rock and pop. The first half of the book explains the lofty intellectual and musical ideals the drove bands such as Public Image Ltd., Pere Ubu, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and the Pop Group, while the more fractured second half explains how this post-punk movement spawned goth, neo-psychedelia, synth pop, 2-tone, the new romantic scene, and finally the New Rock and New P ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Music Lovers (particularly English music lovers)
Okay, I was the kid who ate, drank and dreamed music. Music was always around from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a small club, being the the midst of FEAR riot in downtown L.A., watching Grand Master Flash at the Palace, to catching Love and Rockets on their first tour in the U.S.

Yeah, I was that guy who was suspended for sneaking out of class to go stand in the line to get tickets for The Who (with the Clash opening) and swore he would never wash his cheek after Suzanne Hoffs (from the Bangles)
Endlessly exhaustive and meticulously researched history of one of the most fertile and creative periods of music since rock and roll expropriated the black blue. There is an interesting parallel in which Reynolds compares the synth-pop Second English Invasion of the early 80s to the original 60s English Invasion - rather than UK bands taking black blues and selling back to the white Americans, it was UK bands taking the recent black innovations of disco and R&B, remaking them in their own i ...more
Aug 26, 2009 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book as an ideal airplane book - potentially interesting, but not likely to be particularly taxing. And it was pretty much as a I expected. I'm not a post-punk disciple (born a little late), and know the music mostly from a "looking-back" perspective. Coming from this point of view, the beginnings of the book were pretty interesting, starting with PiL and moving forward. I've always wondered about the story of PiL, and it was well explained by Reynolds.

The major problem with this b
Sep 23, 2012 Jesús rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mastodóntico, enciclopédico, imprescindible. El libro de Reynolds pone orden en aquello que el punk dejó patas arriba y hace que nos preguntemos no ya qué es el post-punk, sino: ¿qué no es post-punk? Es música disco, es reggae, es dub; es negro, es blanco y es africano; es de Nueva York y es de Manchester; es autogestión, es independencia, es política y es baile; es ruido, furia y mierda, pero también es artístico, limpio y minimalista; es frío y es calor; es carne y es metal; es antirock y anti ...more
Bernard O'Leary
May 30, 2016 Bernard O'Leary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's such a challenge to document the musical landscape after punk, which really was a cultural Year Zero, especially in the British alternative scene. Reynolds takes the correct (imho) approach here of breaking it into two sections: the immediate aftermath, with bands like PiL, Joy Division, Devon and others experimenting with futurism; and the early eighties explosion of new forms like goth, industrial, two-tone and the all-conquering New Pop, with Thatcher's re-election as a natural cultural ...more
Lily Rojo
Jun 30, 2009 Lily Rojo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read, but definitely meant only for those with previous knowledge of or respect for this era of music history. Newcomers to this genre will most likely be put off by the sheer amount of obscure information that Reynolds includes, while post-punk nerds such as myself will revel in it.

However, it should be noted that the US version is highly censored and cut by almost 200 pages, and does not include the original photos of the UK release. Take some time to seek out the original UK
Khris Sellin
Jun 08, 2012 Khris Sellin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me FOREVER to finish this book, only because I was having such a great time going back & forth between it and YouTube to listen to some of the old favorites from the postpunk era, and some I'd never even heard of before. Lots of interesting stories and great insights about how some of these bands came together and what was going on behind the scenes and their "philosophies" about music and art, etc. So much fun going down memory lane!
Apr 18, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
I loved it...I feel like I know everything about post-punk now! This book hits pretty much every one of my all-time favorites: Talking Heads, Devo, Orange Juice, Gang of Four, Joy Division, the Raincoats, etc etc. I've enjoyed reading Simon Reynolds in the past, and this seems like his main passion, so it does not disappoint.
Oct 27, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: music obsessives
Simon Reynolds is a great critic/historian. The 80's! On the surface it seems to be dull time, but alas, not true! Great music works were produced in that era, everything from Adam Ant (Yes!) to Pere Ubu. Public Image, The Slits, Scritti Politti - and lots more are covered in this book. A fascinating read to a world that doesn't exist anymore. That's the nature of 'pop.'
Jan 20, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it
This is certainly the best single book so far on post-punk, but it is significantly impaired, firstly by Reynolds' refusal or inability to decide what he means by 'post-punk', and secondly, by his decision to try to include musical developments after punk in the US. He ought to have decided what 'post-punk' meant for him and stuck with it. Similarly, he ought to have limited the ambit of the book to the UK, Ireland & Germany, because his treatment of developments in those countries is genera ...more
Scott Holstad
Aug 29, 2013 Scott Holstad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exhausting book to read, in part, because the author was so exhaustive in his research and, thus, the book is a thorough overview of British, and to a lesser extent, American post-punk rock. It's also a strangely intellectual book, and at times, it felt like I was reading a modern history textbook.

Early on, Reynolds discusses the demise of punk and the (odd) opinion that The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" actually signaled the end of punk -- not the height of its glory. He sh
Apr 15, 2016 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglese, musica
Penso all’idea del rock come forza in grado di cambiare almeno la coscienza del singolo ascoltatore…Il post-punk è stato l’ultimo grande periodo in cui c’è stata una forte ondata di innovazione che riguardasse insieme musica, testi, performance e anche il ruolo generale della musica .

Era il tempo dei vinili, e di altri supporti, ma tutti rispettavano la durata di un album. Prima che questa meravigliosa creatura sparisse nel maelstrom dello streaming digitale.
Reynolds appare l’uomo g
Jun 25, 2011 Bunnyhugger1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, read-2011, music
Update 2
I've just finished reading my copy of the US edition which covers a lot of ground despite being 200 pages shorter than the original UK version. Simon Reynolds gives a detailed account of this time period and is enjoyably opinionated which made the text less dry than it could have been. Inevitably, I found some chapters more interesting than others, and felt that he gave some genres too much attention while overlooking others (although this may have been affected by the cuts to this editi
Aug 19, 2013 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Punk has gotten too many histories and This Band could be your Life gave a history of the American Post hardcore, but my favorite moment in the history has been relatively undocumented until Reynold’s brilliant book. The collision of some of my favorite literature (Kafka, Ballard, Burroughs, New Worlds Science fiction), and music (Krautrock, Roxy Music, Bowie, Captain Beefheart, dub reggae, Parliament/Funkadelic,) the energy and DIY aspects of punk, and the pessimistic political situation of the ...more
Apr 29, 2012 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plus-half-a-star
I would have given this book five stars if it had a more cohesive sense of continuity, but with the sheer amount of ground Reynolds covers, I don't know if that would have been possible. Each individual chapter, typically covering a group of stylistically or otherwise related artists, usually in a particular city or region, reads more like a standalone article, though the chronological ordering of the chapters and the web of mutual influence among the artists made it inevitable that certain name ...more
Wes Freeman
Dec 03, 2008 Wes Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book divided between the underground and mainstream bands of the post-punk era/ethos. Most of 'em are British. I once saw a Yardbirds' documentary where former 'birds guitarist Eric Clapton said, "I just don't think you can start a band on a drawing board." Here is 400 pages of bands that did; highly conceptual bands, all of which seem to have wandered in through the doors punk opened, none of which seem to sound like Eric Clapton. If punk was the Year Zero (author maintains it's not) then these ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's no secret amongst my friends that I pretty much obsess over the post-punk era. This books seemed short at 500+ pages while containing more information and insight into the scene, how it came about, mutated and ended than seemed possible. Sure there's a million other stories to tell... There's a wealth of information that could be gotten from the artists mouth's themselves (as this book seemed light on direct contact). As the first book I am aware of that tried to broach this topic with any ...more
Jan 01, 2008 Autumn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans who listen to BBC6, teenagers who like Bloc Party
Shelves: anglophilia
This incredibly detailed, but very readable, history of the late 70s/early 80s British music scene is a revelation. Simon Reynolds covers all the important (and obscure) postpunk bands and creates a coherent narrative from it. Do you want to know about the leftist roots of Scritti Politti? Does it delight you to know that Echo and the Bunnymen were incredibly scornful of U2 because they were both trying to attract bereft Joy Division fans? Do you want to know exactly how industrial music was inv ...more
Ian Mathers
Jun 17, 2013 Ian Mathers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Technically this was a reread, but I don't have it in Goodreads, my first read was years ago and the UK edition instead of the US, and I _did_ read it this year, so I'm counting it for the reading challenge (so there). I'd probably give the UK edition with the three extra chapters and other missing material five stars, not because it's perfect and not because I agree with Reynolds on everything (and you can definitely spot the roots of some of his errors circa Retromania in the afterword), but i ...more
Mar 05, 2009 Jesse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: them, him
It would have been easier to read this as it was originally published (serially by chapter and illustrated with photos). Reading the thing through, I was bored by the chapters that focused exclusively or primarily on musicians. The sections that gave a more balanced insight into the workings of the management/artist/journalist triumvirate were more successful, particularly the chapter on ZTT and those that dealt with Malcolm McLaren's various projects.

P.S. I have heard that the UK edition is il
Gregarious cline
Jun 05, 2013 Gregarious cline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: elizabeth mollo, joe nozemack, thomas gage
Easily one of the best music books ever written. Fascinating, detailed and insightful look at evolution of the indie music scene that happened as a direct result of Punk rock's DIY shattering of musical conduct and mindset (from 1978 until 1984. I love Reynolds assessment that this was the year that bands stopped looking unabashedly forward in their vision and started looking backwards for nostalgic inspiration i.e. Paisley Underground etc...).
Like Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, I will reread th
Sara Cervantes
Aug 21, 2013 Sara Cervantes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucid and entertaining accounts of the various musical subgenres, ideological movements, albums, and people who populated post-punk. Exhaustive in scope and well-organized, despite the messily overlapping genres, bands, and movements of the period. Essential reading for anyone who wonders what happened in music and culture between the self-combustion of the Sex Pistols and the rise of Nirvana (1977 - 1984). Reynolds, as a music journalist, comes across as extremely knowledgeable while retaining ...more
Mark Farley
Jun 23, 2013 Mark Farley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wealth of brilliant information and anecdotal joy for all anoraks. If (like me) you are obsessed with music, this NME book of the year is a must have for any punk or fan of music from the 80s. A riotous regional journey covering towns or cities in the states and in the Uk too. Did you know that an early incarnation of The Human League were called Musical Vomit? It explains everything.
Oct 19, 2012 Kiri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-history
Augh, I left this on an airplane and didn't get to finish it! But the part I managed to read was amazing, the sort of intellectual analysis of post-punk music that I never knew I wanted. Must obtain and finish reading at some point in the future!
Aug 25, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing
A fantastically detailed book about Post Punk. An absolute classic and should find a place on every music lovers shelves. Finally someone has written about this creative musical genre and Reynolds is the right person.

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U.K. Version 2 18 Nov 04, 2012 07:57PM  
  • From the Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a Post-Punk World
  • Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992
  • Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small
  • England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond
  • Punk Rock: An Oral History
  • Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco
  • Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991
  • We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk
  • Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth
  • Britpop!: Cool Britannia And The Spectacular Demise Of English Rock
  • Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader
  • No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980.
  • Margrave Of The Marshes
  • Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash
  • Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King
  • Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital
  • The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings On Rock Music
  • How Soon Is Now? The Madmen & Mavericks Who Made Independent Music (1975-2005)
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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