Book Review: The Trouser Press Record Guide by Ira A. Robbins

 Originally published in 1983, The Trouser Press Record Guide: The Ultimate Guide To Alternative Music (4th edition 1991) packs a punch for those of us who prefer the sprawling wilderness of the post-punk era to today's paltry offerings labeled as 'new music'. With a focus on the often unknown bands, to the well-known within the Punk, Post-Punk, New Wave and otherwise alternative bands from all over the radar. Robbins and his crew offer highly opinionated, but detailed information, providing much more insight than the usual fare given in a typical issue of Rolling Stone.

The added beauty of the book is the additional info of vinyl releases for each band, as, if you remember, the majority of popular (and not so popular) music ceased to be pressed on vinyl when the almighty CD began its reign near the end of the 80's. Leaving vinyl production (mainly) to the rare artist who insisted on a vinyl pressing or special vinyl-only release.

I am not in the habit of posting pre-written material for my blog, however, the following review by Timothy P. Young sums it up pretty well:

"What makes this book great isn't the reviewing they do (concise and well written, always) but rather the fact that Trouser Press provides histories for each band before jumping into their material, and traces the progression of bands through their careers... If you want to understand the individual formations of bands, their original vision, how and why they changed and a full critical accounting thereof, buy the Trouser Press Guides."

If you would indeed like to purchase this buried treasure of the alternative dark ages, Amazon currently has it available for a price suitable for all budgets here: The Trouser Press Record Guide 4th Edition . Ira Robbins has since published a 5th edition called The Trouser Press Guide to 90's Rock: The All-New Fifth Edition 1997 of course including the 'influential' bands of the 90's Grunge movement. And you can bet your most valuable record I will be purchasing The Trouser Press Guide to New Wave Records for myself this Christmas.

Trouser Press began as a fan-zine in 1974-1984 publishing 95 issues featuring rare interviews, reviews, obscure photos and much more in its 10 year life span. Highly recommended.

Reading The Classics of Gothic Fiction: Dracula by Bram Stoker

You would think tackling a classic like Dracula would be a difficult job, and it's true that it's taken me a while to get to a place where I could decide what I wanted to say about it. I mean this is a worldwide, beloved classic of gothic fiction; the parental story that has birthed an unfathomable amount of other books, films, art in its many forms, and the list goes on....Then why am I so disenchanted with it? Why have two solid, serious attempts to read and absorb this most famous of stories, both lead to only getting 2/3 the way through the book? I simply cannot bring myself to finish it. Am I missing the most crucial parts? Perhaps, but I don't think so. At least if any of the films are any indication. I know that literature of the period in which Dracula was written are notoriously slow-burns. In other words they take a long time to get to the good stuff, or the really scary stuff, or the big payoff at the end. In fact I read a lot of Edwardian/Victorian gothic fiction, so I'm well used to the language and styles of writing in those periods. Well, I gotta say, after seeing the many film versions of Dracula, I know how it ends well enough to get the gist.

Am I jaded by my love of the films of Dracula? Most notably Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 effort which is labeled as Bram Stoker's version, and happens to be my favorite? Maybe so. But where is this great love story between Dracula and Mina in the book? Each diary entry (for the most part) is so long and laden with overly descriptive passages that my mind constantly wanders, or I start skipping through the blah-blah-blah parts.

With all of that being said, it did start off well, and I was really enjoying it up to about the halfway mark. I love the language of the 18th & 19th Centuries, with their flowery descriptions and proper dialogue. Easily painting pictures in the mind of that most intriguing time in history. So WTF? Why can't I bring myself to finish it? Maybe I'll revisit it someday, and the third attempt will be the one that takes, but until then, I guess it just looks pretty good on my shelf.

Friday Night Videos Week 2: Darkwave Delights


I'm about to do something I NEVER do, and that is promote a Facebook community. First off, you should know that I believe Facebook is the devil. I absolutely abhor it on so many levels...but being a small business, it is a necessary evil. Granted, I spend as little time there as possible, choosing to give most of my daily social media time to Instagram. Yeah, I know they're owned by Facebook. But enough of that...

So I guess you could say I'm cheating this week with my Friday Night Videos, as I have not made this list, but it is SO GOOD I just had to blog about it. It would have taken me months to compile a list as extensive and diverse (within the darkwave etc. genres) as this. So have a look at Old School Legacy: Gothik New Wave Post-Punk on Facebook, you'll be sooo glad you did.

I wish I could figure out how to post the video list here and have it play continuously, but I'm not that technologically astute, so the link to their videos will just have to suffice...here it is: Old School Legacy Video List

Until next time, enjoy!

Book Review: Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

Here's another book review for you,.. Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds is the latest text I'm devouring, and so far, so good. I like that the chapters are segmented into groups of bands, sometimes by year, and sometimes location. Simon has definitely done his homework, but it helps to have been there, in the UK. where most of the Post-Punk scene developed. It also helps to be old enough to understand the movement, yet young enough to dig it. 

Chapter 16 particularly intrigued me; Sex Gang Children: Malcolm McLaren, the Pied Piper of Pantomime Pop. His recount of Malcolm's devious dealings differs greatly from, say Adam Ant's version in his autobiography: Stand and Deliver. I had always thought that Adam was being rather gracious regarding his version of how the original Ants left and went to form Bow Wow Wow under Malcolm's tutelage. I suppose we'll never really know now...

This particular edition came from the UK, because a little research birdie told me that the US version is missing over 200 pages of info. I'll never understand why publishers do this, but whatever. I ordered my copy from Amazon UK, and it was really reasonable. There is a companion book to this called Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews  which I will no doubt invest in soon.

If you're a Post-Punk junkie like me, you'll love the in-depth info Simon provides on the actual bands themselves, and the records they put out in the day. There's a great index in the back, as well as a thorough timeline on the Post-Punk history, for quickie reference.

Pick this up and play some records.