[Book] Mad World: An Oral History Of New Wave Artists And Songs That Defined The 1980s by Lori Majewski & Jonathan Bernstein

 

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It’s not often that we get sent non-music promo items, occasionally there will be booze, or gadgets, and there was that time Chromeo sent us a phone, but generally it’s Records and CDs. Last week, though, we got sent a book. That book was Mad World: An Oral History Of New Wave Artists And Songs That Defined The 1980s. It was was written by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, both long time music journalists with a vested interest int he 80s. I’m a big reader, but I can barely string two words together to write a music review, let along tackle a book review.

So here is a book review.

Music books are notoriously hit or miss, more often being disappointingly miss. The last great music book I read was Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton (which is an amazing history of DJing which is well worth the read), 80s music books in particular, usually make me annoyed with their generalizations of superficial coverage of the topic so I delved into the book with trepidation. However, the way Mad World is constructed is both fun and pretty in depth. What you have is each chapter being dedicated to a particular classic song from the 80s and it’s content being an interview with one or more of the creators. So, for example, the chapter on Yazoo’s Only You features Vince and Alison talking about their relationship and making the record. This is a great format that allows you to pick up and put down the book when you’ve got a spare minute and learn something genuinely insightful about a handful of SynthPop hits and a brief look into the mind of some of the biggest names of the 80s. Those present and correct include The Human League, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Kim Wilde, The Normal, Duran Duran, ABC, Devo, A-Ha, Thompson Twins, OMD, Ultravox and many more.

So, yeah, book review. I really enjoyed it. Even though it’s a ‘dip in’ type volume, I read the thing from cover to cover. The fact that it’s 99% the voices of the artists who made these records makes it both more interesting, and accurate, than if a third party has just written about the tracks.

Also, there’s tons of photos, and photos from the 80s are a good thing.

One tiny niggle I did have with the book; being an American publication it has these translations for English terms throughout that tends to be a bit patronising and jarring a little. It’s an annoyance that pulls you out of the book. I know much of the books audience will be American, but I’m sure they have enough common sense to realise a “bin man” is what they would call a “garbage man”, context is a wonderful thing.

That aside though, It’s really good read, I would definitely be interested in a Volume Two being released, there’s tons of songs I would love to read about in this format.

Buy Mad World: An Oral History Of New Wave Artists And Songs That Defined The 1980s from:

electronic magazine débuts

In the shops on the 26th is a  brand new UK electronic music magazine, titled simply Electronic. This is quite a momentous moment, I don’t think there has ever been an electronic music focused print magazine published in the UK. Sure there a myriad Dance music magazines that cover a specific section of electronic music, and sure there are a handful of music technology based publications that, obviously, mainly cover electronic music. But Electronic aims to be neither of those. Whist covering dance music it won’t be dance music specific, and whilst covering electronic musicians it chooses to look more into the people behind the tunes, rather than the studio trickery.

Issue 1 is out next week and features  articles on, amongst others, the almighty The Human League, Kraftwerk, Underworld, John Foxx, Hot Chip & A Guy Called Gerald. That’s quite a guestlist for just one issue and only scratches the surface of what’s contained within. The premier issue also comes with a free 14 track compilation album put together by Wall Of Sound’s Mark Jones in full on Back To The Phuture mode with a classic synth line-up.

It’s a tough time for printed media. Kudos to Future Publishing (home to Future Music, Computer Music & SFX) for having faith in electronic music and the Electronic crew. This could be just what we need in the UK, and the best thing in WH Smith. We strongly suggest you give it your support, we will be. Can’t wait for the first issue.

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Electronic débuts Thursday 26th July in all good Newsagents. You can have a look into issue one with the preview here.

Children Of The Can

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Today I was exited to find that the postman had dropped off my copy of ‘Children Of The Can: 25 Years Of Bristol Graffiti‘ by Felix Braun. This truly amazing book charts the history of the spraycan art in the city that produces some of the best in the world.

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Featuring interviews with most of the key players on the Bristol Graffiti scene in the last couple of decades and, more importantly, hundreds of photos, many of which showing art that is no longer there.

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For those of you who just happened to stumble across this blog and don’t know me, I’m a Bristolian living in London and I’m fiercely proud of my hometown, I miss it everyday, and some of these images brought a nostalgic tear to my eye. There are pieces, especially in the earlier sections of the book, I used to see all the time in my daily life. The section on the Barton Hill Youth Club particularly made me smile. There’s even some old faces throughout the book!

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Bristol has constantly churned out innovative and amazing street art and this book captures that perfectly.

It comes highly recommended!

Buy ‘Childern Of The Can’ @ Tangent Books

Children Of The Can