Tag Archive: Simon Reynolds


Mark Fisher – 11th July 1968 – 13th January 2017

Today is Blue Monday according to the depression experts. Apparently, if you’re going to feel low any time this year, today’s the day.

I never set great store by such notions, more often than not such stories amount to nothing more than clickbait.

But the post festive gloom descended heavily upon me this morning when I woke to the sad and shocking news that music critic and modern culture guru Mark Fisher has passed at the ridiculously young age of 48. Continue reading



SHOCK AND AWE – GLAM ROCK AND ITS LEGACY by Simon Reynolds (Faber & Faber,2016)

“Got your mother in a whirl ‘cos she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” – David Bowie (Rebel Rebel)
“Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass” – Kraftwork (Hall Of Mirrors)
“There’s something in the air of which we will all be aware yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah” – Sweet (Teenage Rampage)
“Whatever happened to the heroes?”- The Stranglers (No More Heroes)

glamIt’s fair to say Glam Rock has never really been taken all that seriously. Being casually dismissed as a joke genre is partly what drove Simon Reynolds to write this impressively weighty tome.

In so doing, he proves that this musical phenomenon deserves to be more than just an amusing footnote in the story of popular music. The author doesn’t claim that all the music tagged as Glam (or Glitter is you’re American) is of a universally high standard yet, even at its most crass and commercial, Reynolds endorses the viewpoint of Noel Coward who once wryly observed : “It’s extraordinary how potent cheap music is”. Continue reading


Cover image of Retromania - my favourite book of 2011.

This was the year when Tory minister Michael Gove pronounced that, from the age of 11 up, we should read at least 50 books a year. I only managed to read about 40 this year – does that make me a dumbass?

These are the best books I read this year, needless to say, not all were published in 2011 and I wrote blog posts about them all:

Best fiction :

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Point Omega by Don DeLillo

One Day by David Nicholls

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

The Hunger Games (parts one + two) by Suzanne Collins Continue reading


After Kurt Cobain killed himself a woman wrote to the Guardian, irritated about how so called  ‘slackers’ were represented in the press.

She wrote : “ours is not a generation that won’t do anything. Ours is a generation that has trouble finding anything to do”.

It is 20 years since the album that summed up this state of mind was released. Nevermind is an album that forced to record industry to do a massive reappraisal of what ‘underground rock’ meant given that its massive success was on a par with the ‘overground'(mainstream).

Its iconic status, like that of Nirvana’s intense MTV Unplugged show was doubly assured by Cobain’s suicide. The nostalgia junkies are all over this of course but when I see photos or footage of Cobain, I wish we still had him around rather than this memorabilia.

I wish that Kurt had taken on board these words of Voltaire from ‘Candide’ : “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away? To loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away”

Related links:
In search of Nirvana – 20 years on (Guardian.Co:Uk)
Why we should let Kurt Cobain rest in peace by Simon Reynolds (Slate.Com)


33 Revolutions Per Minute – A History of Protest Songs by Dorian Lynskey (Faber and Faber, 2010)

This is an ambitious, well researched and highly informative historical study of a strand of popular music that seems to be largely on the wane.

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer artists willing to align themselves to political causes or identify themselves as protest singers.

There are notable exceptions like Billy Bragg or Steve Earle but there aren’t too many under 30 who take rebellion beyond the predictable statements of teenage angst or broad criticisms towards some vaguely defined authority.

Even on her magnificent anti-war album Let England Shake, PJ Harvey is careful to present her sentiments in emotional rather than political terms.  Intelligent artists like Polly J are all too aware of the risk of being seen to be lecturing listeners; as Lynskey correctly observes  “the biggest problem with protest songs is that they engender smugness”. Continue reading

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