Backstage & Beyond, Volume 2: 45 Years of Classic Rock Chats & Rants

Trouser Pr. Oct. 2023. 280p. ISBN 9798987989104. pap. $25. MUSIC
Freelance music and feature writer Sullivan follows volume 1 of Backstage & Beyond (which focused on artists who came to prominence in the 1950s and ’60s) with nearly 30 more unpublished interviews and stories about musicians of the ’70s through the ’90s, including punk and post-punk rockers and a few hip-hoppers. The book discusses albums, grueling tours, shifting styles, and personnel changes with such artists as Patti Smith, the Buzzcocks, the Beastie Boys, Elvis Costello, Diddy, and the Cramps. More substantively, Sullivan examines the musical direction of the pensive Joy Division; the punk origins of the Police; the brittle sound of the early Gang of Four; and the racial tensions that surrounded the English Beat. The book, which doesn’t consistently offer new insight in every chapter, also delves into Nirvana’s debt to the Pixies and into the political impetus and do-it-yourself ethos behind the Clash. There are also a riveting section about the philosophy of Morrissey and the Smiths and a poignant essay about the essence of the pile-driving-but-fun Ramones, most of whom have passed away.
VERDICT Though not entirely filled with fresh information, the book includes enough new material to make the second volume of this set worthwhile for readers interested in more recent rock.
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