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Monday, September 10, 2012

"New Wave & Post-Punk", well-known pleasures

New Wave & Post-Punk (1978-1984). From Depeche Mode to Franz Ferdinand (de Depeche Mode a Franz Ferdinand, Spanish original title)- Juan M. Corral (editor)

Here comes a very interesting and needed book. Well, music books are desperately needed in general in Spain, as the production is so small. So "New Wave & Post-Punk" has to be praised even if just as an attempt of covering such a music period. So thanks Juan Manuel Corral and the rest of music specialists (six different writers trying to dissect those times in several individual chapters) for the work.

Having said that, the book has many attractions, from just being informed about those years, who were the leading bands and artists of the different "movements" or "scenes" (whether the real existence or non-existence of the scenes are one of these perennial debates), their connections and relations, and maybe discover some of them, to bringing to the table, or at least explore, the origins and direct influences of many bands that are referential today. As the book clearly exposes, and I don't think its arguable, 80s are "on fashion" today.

To present such a vast and complex (it evolved very quickly) music panorama is not an easy task, so for sure, the scope of the book has limitations and the list of groups/artists included is, by no means (that's almost impossible) exhaustive, but the overall feeling after reading it is that the most relevant scenes have been covered and documented. Therefore, prepare yourself to embark on a quite challenging ride: from "England's Dreaming" to Joy Division fatalism, from American Hardcore to Gary Numan, from German industrial sounds to The Specials, from Morrisey & Marr to Diamanda Galas. 

As I said before, the book tries to analyse the most relevant bands and milestones of the different music scenes (plus a chapter on music labels, not that usual and highly absorbing, another positive point). I like the fact the writers doesn't hide their criticisms and opinions on albums and attitudes and that the focus is not reproducing what the chroniclers from USA and United Kingdom have vastly documented: the perspective is a more local one, about what and how we received these bands and styles here in Spain, and how we can value them. In that sense, the final chapters of "New Wave & Post-Punk" are particularly relevant despite its length constraints. One is dedicated to the "legacy", where music specialist Daniel Cabezas tries to summarize the influences of some of the most celebrated artists of the new millennium. A titanic, incomplete, but great chapter. The second is a brief (too short) but valuable view of how new wave and post-punk arrived and influenced national music, in a pivotal moment of change in Spain, after the dictatorship regime.

But there's a big, and a bit surprising, "issue" with this book: the unacceptable number of misspellings and typos. There's virtually no page without it. Just the back cover has half a dozen of them. Don't know which has been the problem (edition, lack of correction) but it makes the work look bad, not very professional. Sad, because despite its limitations, this book should be quite recommendable.

SCORE: 6,5/10

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