The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music is a new book from Da Capo Press that collects some of the best writing on rock music from the past few decades.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music

Nick Tosches is one of our most original and iconoclastic writers, on any subject. In this, his first collection of music writing, he turns his unerringly sharp eye and prose style to the subject he knows best-rock & roll. The result is a collection as tough, dark, passionate, and funny as the music itself.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 1

In The Dark Stuff, Nick Tosches leaves no riff unturned, no chord unsounded, and no boogie unstomped in this collection of writings on rock music. First published in 2002, The Dark Stuff was hailed by book critics and rock critics alike as a classic of music writing, a searing and uncompromising account of rock ‘n’ roll from its beginnings to the present day.

Tosches is our guide through the dark side of rock ‘n’ roll, from the birth of blues and country music to the drug-fueled decadence of the Seventies and Eighties. He profiles iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, Frank Zappa, Keith Richards, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. He also gives us an insider’s view of the seedy underside of the music business, with tales of crooked promoters, greed-crazed executives, and burned-out musicians.

The Dark Stuff is essential reading for anyone who loves rock ‘n’ roll – or anyone who wants to understand how this music came to be and what it means to those who make it and those who listen to it.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 2

In this second part of The Dark Stuff, Nick Kent turns his attention to the punk explosion of the mid-1970s. He was there from the start, and his writing captures all the excitement and energy of those heady days. He also takes a look at some of punk’s progenitors, such as Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, and its British cousins, pub rock and glam rock. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand rock music – or simply wants to enjoy a good story.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 3

From its very beginnings, rock music has been associated with rebellion, youth, and a countercultural attitude. In the 1950s, young people were drawn to the music’s energy and defiance of authority. In the 1960s, rock became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement and the anti-war protests. And in the 1970s, punk rock expressed the disenchantment of a generation that came of age in a time of economic recession and political turmoil.

In this collection of essays, Greil Marcus explores the darker side of rock music, portraying it as a sometimes menacing force that reflects our deepest fears and desires. Marcus brings his keen critical eye to bear on such topics as the death of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Kurt Cobain’s suicide. He also provides an incisive critique of current trends in popular music, from ” American Idol” to hip-hop.

With The Dark Stuff, Marcus once again demonstrates why he is one of our most original and insightful cultural commentators.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 4

In this, the fourth and final instalment of our series, we bring you a selection of writings on rock music from some of the genre’s most respected critics and commentators.

As with any art form, rock music is open to interpretation – what one person sees as the pinnacle of the genre may be seen by another as its nadir. In these pieces, our writers make their case for both the good and bad in rock music, and everything in between.

We hope you enjoy this final selection of writings on rock music, and that it leaves you with plenty to think about.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 5

In the late seventies and early eighties, a new wave of British bands seized on the energy and attitude of punk rock and created a powerful and distinctive new sound. These bands – led by the likes of the Clash, the Jam, and the Sex Pistols – came to be known as “the Class of ‘77”.

The Class of ‘77 was a true rock & roll renaissance, with a new generation of British bands injecting fresh life into the tired old dinosaur that was rock music at the time. Punk may have killed off prog rock and glam rock, but it was the Class of ‘77 that really gave birth to what we now know as “indie rock”.

In this series of articles, I’ll be taking a look at some of the key albums and singles released by these iconic bands. In this fifth instalment, we’ll be taking a look at two very different but equally essential records: The Damned’s “Strawberries” single and Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True” album.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 6

The following is an excerpt from one of the most famous pieces of rock writing, Lester Bangs’ “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.” In it, Bangs takes on perhaps the most reviled band of the ’70s, the New York Dolls.

The New York Dolls were vilified when they first arrived on the scene in the early ’70s. Bangs was one of the few critics who saw through the hype and recognized the band’s importance.

The Dolls were Rock & Roll in its purest, most liberated form. They weren’t trying to be anything they weren’t. They dressed in women’s clothes because they looked good in them, and they took drugs because they liked getting high. They played fast and loud because that’s what Rock & Roll is supposed to be.

For all their attempts at being bad boys, the Dolls were actually quite charming and good-natured. They didn’t have an evil bone in their bodies. In fact, they were the exact opposite of everything that was wrong with Rock & Roll in the ’70s.

The bands that came after them – Kiss, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses – took everything that was great about the Dolls and turned it into a cheap circus act. They turned Rock & Roll into a joke.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 7

In the final part of our series, we present a collection of writings on rock music from some of the genre’s most eminent critics and journalists.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 8

In this, the concluding part of our series, we turn to some of the darkest and most extreme music ever created: black metal.

Black metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that often features fast tempo, distortion-laden guitars, blast-beat drumming, and lyrics dealing with Satanism, death, and destruction. The music is sometimes accompanied by graphic images of violence and gore.

Black metal bands are often associated with radical right-wing political views and have been linked to neo-Nazism and other forms of racism. Despite this, the music has been praised for its sonic extremity and its ability to create an atmosphere of dread and terror.

Some of the most well-known black metal bands include Venom, Bathory, Mayhem, Burzum, Watain, and Darkthrone.

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music – Part 9

In this, the penultimate part of our series, we bring you a selection of pieces on some of rock music’s darkest themes – misogyny, murder and mental illness. We begin with a collection of writing on some of the most notorious figures in rock history, from Charlie Manson to Ozzy Osbourne. Next, we take a look at the way in which mental illness has been represented in rock music, both in song and in the lives of some of its most famous practitioners. We then turn to the subject of death, with pieces on everything from the 1950s “tragedy records” that cash-in on teenage deaths, to the dark genius of Joy Division’s post-punk masterpiece “Closer”. Finally, we examine one of the most taboo subjects in rock – misogyny – and the complicated relationship that many women have with a genre that so often objectifies and degrades them.

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