Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992


In more than sixty essays on punk rock and the punk-influenced pop that followed, America's most perceptive pop-culture critic chronicles the punk years, the key bands, and the impact of their music.
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In more than sixty essays on punk rock and the punk-influenced pop that followed, America's most perceptive pop-culture critic chronicles the punk years, the key bands, and the impact of their music.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rock 'n' roll critic Marcus follows the punk rock scene as well as more mainstream music in this assemblage of reviews and articles published in Rolling Stone , the Village Voice , Artforum and elsewhere. For Marcus ( Lipstick Traces ), punk was a salubrious cultural explosion, bent on a cleansing negation like the Dada movement. He likens the Sex Pistols to novelist Margaret Drabble: both grapple with the plight of people attempting to live without a belief in the future. Although his focus is on punk groups like the Clash, the Mekons, Gang of Four and the Au Pairs, Marcus ranges far afield to discuss Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, the Go-Gos and the Rolling Stones. Fans of his previous books will enjoy having these pieces in one volume. (May)
Library Journal
What distinguishes Marcus from his rock critic peers is his innate ability as a social cryptographer to decode popular music symbols and their significance within a larger context. The big-picture-window connections that illuminate Lipstick Traces ( LJ 4/15/89), the classic Mystery Train ( LJ 4/1/75), and his recently published Dead Elvis (Doubleday, 1991) are apparent in this collection of punk and post-punk influence pieces, written between 1977 and 1991 for periodicals like New West (later California ) , Artforum, and the Village Voice. The Gang of Four, Delta 5, the Mekons, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, X-ray Spex, and, of course, the Sex Pistols and the Clash, are prominently featured, and looming throughout in the background are the creepy specters of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. A revelatory compendium of bands, records, and performances, this work, along with Jon Savage's England's Dreaming ( LJ 1/92), significantly contributes to the evolving documentation and elucidation of punk rock. For most music collections.-- Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., Tex.
Benjamin Segedin
Fifteen years after the punk rock movement's untimely demise, Marcus is still plugging away at chronicling how it revitalized rock and roll, momentarily replacing stagnant formulas with music that mattered and renewing, redeeming, and changing the lives of those listening to it, especially his. To Marcus, punk rock was and is more than just an attitude, more than just a musical style. "Among other things," he writes, "as an event in cultural time it was an earthquake, and it changed the landscape, throwing all sorts of once-hidden phenomena into stark relief." In more than 60 essays taken from such publications as "Rolling Stone", the "Village Voice", "Artforum", and "New West", Marcus is fan and critic, his enthusiasm revealed in columns on the pivotal bands (the Sex Pistols and the Clash), postpunk bands (the Gang of Four and the Mekons), and such other performers as Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen. As in the indispensable "Mystery Train" (1975), the difficult "Lipstick Traces" (1989), and "Dead Elvis" , Marcus is intelligent but not condescending, passionate but not gushy, provocative but not preachy. He deserves to be read as an important cultural commentator.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385417204
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448

Meet the Author

Greil Marcus
Greil Marcus

Greil Marcus is the author of Lipstick Traces, The Dustbin of History (both from Harvard), and The Shape of Things to Come, The Old, Weird America, Mystery Train, and other books.

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Prologue: the End of the 1960s 9
Two Late Beginnings
Johnny Rotten and Margaret Drabble 17
The End of an Antichrist: Sex Pistols, Winterland, San Francisco, 14 January 1978 21
Elvis Costello: The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, 16 November 1977 25
The Clash 27
Doom Squad 34
From 1979, Remove 7, Add Zero to 9, Then Wait 39
Dead Air 42
Live at the Roxy 45
Gang of Four 50
Logic 54
Rock Death in the 1970s: A Sweepstakes 57
Fear in the Marketplace: Real Life Rock Top Ten 1979 81
Hi, this is America... 87
War in the Catamaran 93
Plague Disco 98
Ripped to Shreds 105
It's Fab, It's Passionate, It's Wild, It's Intelligent! It's the Hot New Sound of England Today! 109
Love and Death in the American Novel 131
Elvis Costello's Bill of Rights 135
The Roots of Punk, #783 138
Yes Nukes 141
Success and Failure in the Wilderness 146
Suspicious Minds 151
The Next President of the United States 159
Life and Life Only 167
Songs of Random Terror: Real Life Rock Top Ten 1980 171
Ideal Home Noise 176
Crimes Against Nature 182
The Au Pairs in Their Time 187
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 195
Charts of the Gods 199
Food Fight: Real Life Rock Top Ten 1981 204
Life After Death 210
Dial Twisting 216
from Elvis Costello Repents: The Rolling Stone Interview 221
Badlands 235
The Mekons Story 241
In the Fascist Bathroom 249
Free Speech, #1 253
Imperial Margarine 258
Gone with the Wind 262
Four More Years 267
400,000 More Years 272
Corrupting the Absolute 275
Number One with a Bullet 280
Less Than Zero 285
The Last President of the United States 290
Alone and Forsaken 297
The Last Broadcast 302
King of Nebraska 311
Flat, Toneless and Tiresome 315
Hum-drum 319
Sand in Your Mouth 323
U.S.A. Combat Heroes 327
The Return of King Arthur 332
Free Speech, #2 338
Born Dead 345
The Return of Iron Butterfly 350
Judgment Day 351
Music 355
More Bad News 358
Groovy Hate Fuck 359
Punk Is Where You Find It 363
An Echo 365
The Assassin 367
Chapters from History 368
yglg 370
Three Premature Endings
The Return of the Ranter 377
The End of the 1980s 379
The Return of the Antichrist 382
Epilogue: A Brief Return of the 1960s: Real Life Rock Top Ten Spring 1991 383
I Am a Cliche 388
Citations 409
Acknowledgments 421
Permissions 423
Index 426
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