Sweet Dreams: The Story of the New Romantics

Faber & Faber. Oct. 2020. 688p. ISBN 9780571353439. $27.95. MUSIC
While American audiences may not know the term New Romantics, they won’t be unfamiliar with the British megastars who typified the late 1970s and early 1980s music movement: Boy George and Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, the Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Wham!, Tears for Fears, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Sade, and more. Jones (editor in chief, GQ; David Bowie: A Life) explores the New Romantics scene in the participants’ own words. Interwoven oral narratives, drawn mostly from interviews conducted for the book in 2018 and 2019, are supplemented with quotations from earlier materials, bringing in contributions from those who have died or weren’t available for new interviews. Jones sets the stage with evocative descriptions of the Blitz nightclub and mid-1970s London before diving into hundreds of pages of interviews. He charts the development of the New Romantics—the club kids obsessed with David Bowie and Bryan Ferry’s Roxy Music went on to embrace punk rock, avant-garde fashion, the art world, music videos, technology, music journalism, and Live Aid. Interviewees conclude with reflections on the scene’s dissolution.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for fans of the era’s music and those interested in pop culture history.

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