The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties. (2012) In 1990 alternative music was where it belonged – underground. It left the business of rock stardom to rock stars. But by 1992 alternative rock had spawned a revolution in music and style that transformed youth culture and revived a moribund music industry. Five years later, alternative rock was over, leaving behind a handful of dead heroes, a few dozen masterpieces, and a lot more questions than answers. What, if anything, had the alternative revolution meant? And had it been possible – as so many of its heroes had insisted – for it to be both on MTV and under the radar? Had it used the machinery of corporate rock to destroy corporate rock? To answer these questions, Entertain Us! takes you on a journey through the nineties – from Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool Thing’ to Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, Nevermind to Odelay, Madchester to Nu-Metal, Lollapalooza to Woodstock ’99 – narrated in the voices of the decade’s most important artists. This is the story of alternative rock – the people who made it, the people who loved it, the industry that bought and sold it, and the culture that grew up in its wake – in the last decade of the twentieth century.
Selected chapters from Entertain Us!
We're the Load of Crap - Mudhoney and the Pathetic Aesthetic
A Popular Consensus - Rock and realism in the early 1990s
Alternative to Alternative - The Smashing Pumpkins 'Siamese Dream'
Who Wants a Normal Life - Jarvis Cocker, the outside moves in
Check Out America - Culture Wars in Guyville
I am My Own Scene - Individualism in the Alternative Nation
Party Malfunction - Riot and Revolt at Woodtsock 99
Buy your copy here.
Modern Art, Rock and Roll, and Other Stuff Your Parents Warned You About. (2007) The Culture Club goes beyond the standard histories of Rock and Roll to reveal modern music's hidden roots in Modern Art. From Alexander Rodchenko to Franz Ferdinand, Antonin Artaud to The Flaming Lips, John Cage to the B-52s, Jean-Paul Sartre to Saturday Night Fever, a century of heavy traffic between the Pop charts and the Avant-Garde is brought dramatically to life. The Culture Club reveals how Futurism, Constructivism, Surrealism, and all the other '-isms' of the twentieth century found their way into your headphones, and into your head.
Read an excerpt here.
he Romantic Movement, Rock and Roll, and The End of Civilisation as We Know It. (2009) Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! uncovers for the first time the hidden roots of rock & roll in the Romantic movement of the 1800s. Picking up a clue in My Chemical Romance's 'Welcome to the Black Parade', the author follows it into a world where Keats meets The Cure, Wordsworth hangs with Weezer, and Byron exchanges haughty glances with Bowie. From Schopenhauer's darkest days to Queen's hits, Hey! Nietzsche! is a wild ride through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, with the best mix-tape in the world on your car stereo.
Read an excerpt here.
"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."
walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd
"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."
Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.
enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001
'Thus it is well known that a child learns to walk, talk and to know his way around the world just by trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened. In this way, he spends his first few years in a wonderfully creative way, discovering all sorts of things that are new to him, and this leads people to look back on childhood as a kind of lost paradise. As the child grows older, however, learning takes on a narrower meaning. In school, he learns by repetition to accumulate knowledge, so as to please the teacher and pass examinations. At work, he learns in a similar way, so as to make a living, or for some other utilitarian purpose, and not for the love of the action of learning itself. So his ability to see something new and original gradually dies away. And without it there is evidently no ground from which anything can grow.'
guns n roses | axl rose | daniel bohm | childhood | creativity
'That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence itself is valueless, for boredom is nothing more than the sensation of the emptiness of existence. For if life, in the desire for which our essence and existence consists, possessed in itself a positive value and real content, there would be no such thing as boredom: mere existence would fulfil and satisfy us. As things are, we take no pleasure in existence except when we are striving after something—in which case distance and difficulties make our goal look as if it would satisfy us (an illusion which fades when we reach it) ...'
rolling stones | arthur schopenhauer | philosophy | rock and roll | desire | boredom
'There is a sentimental rhetoric which readily waxes emotional about deserving paupers and unhappy millionaires alike, and which rails against money... These melodramatic and moral motifs are part of the everyday lives of poor people. Verbal propaganda of the rich, they make up the greater part of the average person's ideological baggage. Disguised as an indictment of money, they justify wealth by reducing it to a mere accident of the human condition...'
mo money | mo problems | lefebvre | biggie smalls | notorious BIG
'The bigots, the hysterics, the destroyers of the self - these are the writers who bear witness to the fearful polite time in which we live... Ours is an age which obsessively pursues health, and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering - rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer's words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr.'
kanye west | spike jonze | susan sontag