Dan's Reviews > Britpop!: Cool Britannia And The Spectacular Demise Of English Rock

Britpop! by John     Harris
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Jul 31, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: essential, reviewed, history
Read from June 24 to 27, 2012

Real stellar read. Excellently well researched and equally well written. Although brimming with loads of interviews from the stars themselves and well as plenty of additional (to some supplemental) historical (essential contextual considerations) information to flesh out and make sense of not only the very world Britpop was born into and briefly inhabited before its untimely, yet ultimately predicable, abrupt implosion in 1997- and the music scene (as well as the contemporaneity aesthetic asipirations) that preceded it, on both sides of the pond; we never get lost in the details or lose sight of the narrative itself. John Harris has a rare gift to keep us completely engaged with excellent pacing and pleasantly smooth writing while never getting us lost in immense details of the episodic and highly mercurial inner-band conflicts, excessive drug use, constant espionage of the paparazzi, compounded by the the complete and utter insanity that is the music industry; that the author captured in their full intensity and detail.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, my only real gripe is that the vast majority of his focus is on Damon Albarn, Justine Frischman, Noel Gallagher and their respective bands. While this makes sense, because Blur and Oasis are THE Britpop bands (well the only two that will matter to the global audience as a whole), way too much focus is given to Frischman's Elastica- which only released one album in the era and is largely inconsequential now (2015 addendum - they still don't matter)- unlike the previously aforementioned giants of Britpop.

Moreover, by focusing too much on these three bands, Harris loses sight, and almost seems to brush off the vast swathe of equally- and in my opinion, in some cases more so - talented bands of the era with just a casual mention of their names like the Boo-Radleys, etc... Really fantastic bands that not only were important to the Britpop movement historically but, have still continued to make fantastic music- such as Supergrass and The Charlatans (Hell, they've had 3 number one hits- I think that deserves much more than a simple casual name dropping of their front-man Tim Burgess. Mr. Harris could have gained a lot of vision if he had zoomed out a bit in his study of the era ).

I'll admit, I'm miffed that one of my favourite British bands of the Bripop Era, The Charlatans, doesn't get their due in this book. (Which honestly makes this criticism more of a personal vendetta than I'd like because The Charlatans will always have a special place in my heart.) But the book as a whole is a really fantastic account of an era that constantly reminds us of plenty universal constants in human nature that factor into the music industry just as anywhere else. (Also, that all movements are transient and Britop is just one of the more fleeting ones) and its a good thing we have excellent writers like John Harris bring us a story of this movement, from its ups and its down- until the eventual and highly inevitable movement toward entropy that all human endeavors must face.
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06/24/2012 page 24
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