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Serious Mayhem

Simon Reynolds: The McLaren Strand, 10 March 2022

The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren: The Biography 
by Paul Gorman.
Constable, 855 pp., £14.99, November 2021, 978 1 4721 2111 0
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... Ifirst​ knew Malcolm McLaren as a singer. His was the oily voice on ‘You Need Hands’, which appeared on The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, a sort of soundtrack album released early in 1979. The film itself, which came out fourteen months later, was a fable charting McLaren’s orchestration of the rise and fall of the band he managed, the Sex Pistols ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... then walking out of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here. The rise and fall of PiL, recounted by Simon Reynolds with great vividness and detail, is the archetypal story of the tumultuous pop music era of the late 1970s and early 1980s, known rather bloodlessly since as post-punk. Until recently, the PiL story was one of the few about post-punk that even ...

Wham Bang, Teatime

Ian Penman: Bowie, 5 January 2017

The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference 
by Paul Morley.
Simon & Schuster, 484 pp., £20, July 2016, 978 1 4711 4808 8
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On Bowie 
by Rob Sheffield.
Headline, 197 pp., £14.99, June 2016, 978 1 4722 4104 7
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On Bowie 
by Simon Critchley.
Serpent’s Tail, 207 pp., £6.99, April 2016, 978 1 78125 745 6
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Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 704 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 571 30171 3
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... things, how to conjure up a ‘black hole’ convincingly on stage.) One of the reasons I’m glad Simon Reynolds gives so much space to this earlier period (in his outsize but periodically acute history of Glam) is that it furnishes real clues to later Bowie, the Bowie of superstar myth, the master manipulator, one move ahead of everyone else. In his ...


Dave Haslam, 20 July 1995

The Black Album 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1995, 0 571 15086 1
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The Faber Book of Pop 
edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage.
Faber, 813 pp., £16.99, May 1995, 0 571 16992 9
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... that pop music isn’t as good as it used to be, that commercialism has taken over. But some, like Simon Reynolds and Greil Marcus, emerge with their enthusiasms undiluted and are able to explore the links between the memorable moments and the groundbreaking acts, serving as a corrective to the inclination to see pop music as a series of unconnected ...

Strangeways Here We Come

Dave Haslam: Ecstasy, 23 January 2003

The Promised Land: Travels in Search of the Perfect E 
by Decca Aitkenhead.
Fourth Estate, 206 pp., £12.99, January 2002, 1 84115 337 0
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... Ecstasy can create in a club the sense of community often lacking in such towns, what Simon Reynolds has called ‘collective intimacy’.From these pockets of activity in Britain, dance music and Ecstasy found new territories. At the fall of the Berlin Wall a generation of Berliners embraced techno; R&S, one of the key record labels of the ...

Bringing Down Chunks of the Ceiling

Andy Beckett: Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City by Dave Haslam, 17 February 2000

Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City 
by Dave Haslam.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £12.99, September 1999, 1 84115 145 9
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... magnify. He cites all the other clever British pop authorities – Michael Bracewell, Jon Savage, Simon Reynolds – while replicating their tendency to jump frustratingly between subjects and stiffen up their sentences with jargon. Haslam’s footnotes, interestingly, are much more relaxed and informative. Here he can just be an enthusiast, not a ...

What the Twist Did for the Peppermint Lounge

Dave Haslam: Club culture, 6 January 2000

Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture 
by Sheryl Garratt.
Headline, 335 pp., £7.99, May 1999, 0 7472 7680 3
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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey 
by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.
Headline, 408 pp., £14.99, November 1999, 0 7472 7573 4
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Saturday Night For Ever: The Story of Disco 
by Alan Jones and Jussi Kantonen.
Mainstream, 223 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 9781840181777
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DJ Culture 
by Ulf Poschardt.
Quartet, 473 pp., £13, January 1999, 0 7043 8098 6
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Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture 
by Simon Reynolds.
Picador, 493 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 0 330 35056 0
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More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction 
by Kodwo Eshun.
Quartet, 208 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 7043 8025 0
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... Keith Hellawell. Rave brought drugs into the mainstream, and fed a different kind of high society. Reynolds, too, has some good thoughts on this, particularly when he provides evidence of the way the textures and development of post-rave dance music mirror the rush and come down of ecstasy. He meticulously namechecks hundreds of releases, dubplates and ...

Move like a party

Mendez: George Michael’s Destiny, 5 January 2023

George Michael: A Life 
by James Gavin.
Abrams, 502 pp., £25, June 2023, 978 1 4197 4794 6
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George Michael: Freedom Uncut 
directed by David Austin and George Michael.
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... and got to No. 8. Wham! were suddenly a headline act of ‘new pop’, which, according to Simon Reynolds, evolved the DIY codes of punk to ‘take on the mainstream and beat it at its own game’ and ‘involved a renaissance of glam’s interest in artifice and androgyny’. Other acts included in the category – the Human League, Eurythmics ...

Moving in

Patricia Beer, 20 November 1980

A Poor Man’s House 
by Stephen Reynolds.
London Magazine Editions, 320 pp., £5.50, August 1980, 0 904388 35 2
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... Stephen Reynolds is coming back. There have been at least two indications of this recently. The prophet is no longer without honour in his own, adopted country, for a plaque has just been unveiled to him in Sidmouth, with the blessing of the town council and a photograph of the proceedings on the front page of the local paper ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Deborah Friedell: ‘The First Actresses’, 3 November 2011

... yet I can’t (If I should die) make affidavit on’t. Do you not twitter, gentlemen? Simon Verelst, Nell Gwyn (c. 1680) The First Actresses (at the National Portrait Gallery until 8 January) begins with a painting of Nell Gwyn by the Dutch artist Simon Verelst (c.1680). Her eyes are narrowed in ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI, 27 April 2000

Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... that the monarchy is, and has been for more than a century, politically impotent and irrelevant. Simon Heffer and the late Robert Rhodes James have thought differently, and rightly so. Recent indignation over the ‘co-option’ of royal events by Tony Blair highlights the uses to which politicians can put the monarchy; it is hard to see why Prime Ministers ...

At Tate Britain (2)

Rosemary Hill: Kenneth Clark, 3 July 2014

... from the ‘Famous Ladies’ dinner service. ‘Marie Countess of Schaumburg-Lippe’ by Joshua Reynolds (c.1759). Clark photographed by Gerty Simon in front of Renoir’s ‘La Baigneuse Blonde’ (c.1933).PreviousNext Born in 1903, the only child of wealthy parents, he first appears aged seven in a portrait by John ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... would have come from.’ ‘It wasn’t only about music, and music wasn’t only about music,’ Simon Reynolds, in his foreword to the k-punk book, remembers Fisher saying about the 1980s music press.A lot of it was about music, however, and on music as on art and culture in general, Fisher’s standards were strict. ‘Music that acknowledged and ...

Ladurie’s Talents

G.R. Elton, 1 October 1981

The Mind and Method of the Historian 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Sian Reynolds and Ben Reynolds.
Harvester, 310 pp., £20, July 1981, 0 85527 928 1
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... reprinting. Worse is the very peculiar study of the court of Louis XIV in 1709. Following Saint-Simon, Le Roy Ladurie at least for once moves away from his peasants: but what was he trying to do? Ostensibly, he was analysing the factions at court, an interesting and important theme, but what in fact he does is to obfuscate the clarities of his guide, partly ...

So Much More Handsome

Matthew Reynolds: Don Paterson, 4 March 2004

Landing Light 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 84 pp., £12.99, September 2003, 0 571 21993 4
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... do, and then the twist into half rhyme happens with the turning of the page (that cadence is very Simon Armitage and I would guess that he is the immediate goad here). Both the humour and the melancholy of Paterson’s poem is that, for all its verve, it can’t attempt the simple thing of making word and object merge: the best it can do is be a poem about a ...

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