Author Topic: Books about 90s culture in the UK  (Read 1613 times)

Utter Shit

  • Snotty Bumstead
Books about 90s culture in the UK
« on: November 14, 2018, 03:10:08 PM »
Quite a specific request, but would anyone be able to recommend any books about the above?

I'm on a huge nostalgia trip for my youth at the moment and have become really interested in finding out more about a period that sort of washed over me as a kid...I'm particularly interested in music from that era, having almost finished and greatly enjoyed John Harris' book The Last Party about the rise and fall of Britpop (anyone read it? thoughts?) - I would love to read a similar book about how the more deliberately commercial end of pop like the Spice Girls, Take That etc tied into the culture of the time - but anything about pop culture in general would be of interest.

TV, computer games, sport, politics, really anything from the 90s in the UK really - if anyone has any recommendations, I'd really appreciate it.

Side note: I think this is my first ever post in this forum, so if requests are frowned upon or I've broken any other unwritten rules, apologies!

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 04:48:33 PM »
Bob Stanley's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' has a great 90s section and is just a fantastic book in general.  I've got John Robb's 'The Nineties: What the Fuck Was That All About?' on my reading pile but suspect it's a Tesco Value version of The Last Party.

gilbertharding

  • Not even the rudest man in the Beatles
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 06:09:06 PM »
Someone got me a book for xmas - thinking back, it must have been xmas 1999 or 2000 - called (and I am being deadly serious): The Nineties - what the f*** was that about? by John Robb.

Fucking hell and Jesus Christ what a load of shit. I read a couple of chapters... I think I moved house a few times before it ended up in Oxfam.

Someone on amazon says: "John Robb is not as funny as he thinks he is and this book is a poor comparison to other books in the genre. Forget his and buy "Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock" instead."

O concur with the first bit, but can't vouch for the recommendation.

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 10:36:54 AM »
I'm interested to see some of the responses to this thread too, it's an era I keep getting pangs for even though I was only really of an age to appreciate stuff from around 95-96 onwards. Hard to describe what it is I want to be reading about, I guess I just miss how much easier it all felt!

Possibly won't be to your taste, Utter Shit (what a sentence), but I recently read "Superstar DJ's, Here We Go" by Dom Phillips which was interesting. I got into the "club scene" when it was at the fag-end of it all really, early to mid 2000's, and really wished I'd been about for the 92-99 era. This told the story quite well.

Incidentally I went to the same gym as John Robb until recently. We've shared a sauna or two.

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 10:49:41 AM »
'A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s' by Alwyn W. Turner is both a political and social history, including popular culture, you might be interested in that.  It covers the whole decade.

The same author has written books on the 70s, 'Crisis? What Crisis?' and the 80s, 'Rejoice! Rejoice!'.

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 10:58:10 AM »
'A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s' by Alwyn W. Turner is both a political and social history, including popular culture, you might be interested in that.  It covers the whole decade.

The same author has written books on the 70s, 'Crisis? What Crisis?' and the 80s, 'Rejoice! Rejoice!'.

I'll look into that, cheers!

Perhaps he's got "The Noughties... Bloody Hell" in the pipeline, too?

Utter Shit

  • Snotty Bumstead
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 11:16:35 AM »
Bob Stanley's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' has a great 90s section and is just a fantastic book in general.  I've got John Robb's 'The Nineties: What the Fuck Was That All About?' on my reading pile but suspect it's a Tesco Value version of The Last Party.

Someone got me a book for xmas - thinking back, it must have been xmas 1999 or 2000 - called (and I am being deadly serious): The Nineties - what the f*** was that about? by John Robb.

Fucking hell and Jesus Christ what a load of shit. I read a couple of chapters... I think I moved house a few times before it ended up in Oxfam.

Someone on amazon says: "John Robb is not as funny as he thinks he is and this book is a poor comparison to other books in the genre. Forget his and buy "Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock" instead."

O concur with the first bit, but can't vouch for the recommendation.

The reviews of John Robb's book seem to be middling-to-shite, I've had a look at Yeah Yeah Yeah and that looks like it might be up my street, cheers!

I'm interested to see some of the responses to this thread too, it's an era I keep getting pangs for even though I was only really of an age to appreciate stuff from around 95-96 onwards. Hard to describe what it is I want to be reading about, I guess I just miss how much easier it all felt!

Possibly won't be to your taste, Utter Shit (what a sentence), but I recently read "Superstar DJ's, Here We Go" by Dom Phillips which was interesting. I got into the "club scene" when it was at the fag-end of it all really, early to mid 2000's, and really wished I'd been about for the 92-99 era. This told the story quite well.

Incidentally I went to the same gym as John Robb until recently. We've shared a sauna or two.

Spot on with that first paragraph, I'm just interested to see how life "really was" then, rather than the simplified version you experience as a kid. For example with The Last Party it's really interesting to see how Britpop and politics were interlinked, and how it affected society, compared to my experience of them which amounts to little more than listening to Definitely Maybe and What's The Story on a loop while playing Super Bomberman 3 on the SNES, and having vague memories of Blair appearing on the scene and playing D:Ream.

If you're interested in football, When Football Came Home by Michael Gibbons was a really evocative book about the 90s that you might enjoy. It's heavily-centred around football so I wouldn't really recommend it if you don't like the sport, but it does talk a lot about how football fit into the period.

'A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s' by Alwyn W. Turner is both a political and social history, including popular culture, you might be interested in that.  It covers the whole decade.

The same author has written books on the 70s, 'Crisis? What Crisis?' and the 80s, 'Rejoice! Rejoice!'.

Cheers - the reviews I saw on Amazon mainly mentioned the political aspect so I wasn't sure if it was for me, but I'll take a further look.

It's weird that there doesn't seem to be a particularly noteable, critically-acclaimed book about 90s pop and its relation to the culture of the time, the way Simon Reynolds' books cover the previous decades. The Last Party is the closest I've found, but it really only touches on rave culture in the early 90s before concentrating entirely on Britpop - or more specifically on Blur, Oasis, Suede and Elastica. I'd honestly love to read a book that assesses the impact that the Spice Girls had, with US pop/R&B and UK garage coming to the fore as the decade wore on.

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 09:22:10 PM »
Michael Bracewell's "The Nineties: When Surface Was Depth" was well received upon its release in 2002, but may be a bit too close to the decade in question to stand up particularly well now. Plus his densely written style takes a bit of getting used to.

Phoenix Lazarus

  • Why bother writing stuff below your avatar?
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2018, 05:28:53 PM »
Never mind that.  Isn't there a book about the noughties (2000-10) yet, lazy bloody cultural historians.

Norton Canes

  • The leper heart will see you for what you are
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2018, 11:29:37 AM »
Give this one a go: Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the '90S-Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter

Published in the US in 1995, but it's an encyclopedia of mostly global phenomena, with plenty of stuff that was prevalent in the UK.

Brundle-Fly

  • I'm so Avant-garden variety
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2018, 03:41:00 PM »
Bad Vibes by Luke Haines is excellent.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2018, 01:17:56 PM »
Bad Vibes by Luke Haines is excellent.

I was going to suggest that, but as it's the personal experience of a musician in a Britpop band it's even more insular in its own way than something that just looks at the cultural impact of Oasis Vs Blur or whatever.

Still haven't read the second book, which I ought to because I love Black Box Recorder even more than The Auteurs. No idea what a third would be like though. "And then I sat around in my bedroom making increasingly obscure 'concept albums' of pure noise to amuse myself in-between writing the two books you've already read."

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2018, 03:07:38 PM »
Give this one a go: Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the '90S-Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter

Published in the US in 1995, but it's an encyclopedia of mostly global phenomena, with plenty of stuff that was prevalent in the UK.

God, that takes me back: it originated as a website - one of the first I ever regularly used, in the early/mid 90s. Excellent content. Stephen Daly used to be in Orange Juice.

c

  • Sandalwood by George Ezra
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2019, 05:09:21 PM »
Getting Away With It by Tim Southwell is a very of-its-time and engaging history of Loaded Magazine (Southwell was the deputy editor in its pre-titmag heyday when people like Kathy Burke were cover stars). Can recommend.

king_tubby

  • A beating would do me the world of good
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2019, 08:58:27 PM »
Bob Stanley's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' has a great 90s section and is just a fantastic book in general.

The chapter about hardcore in that (which I know a bit about) was so riddled with basic errors I couldn't trust him on any of the stuff I didn't know about.

Last Party and Bad Vibes are decent though, despite Harris's current metamorphosis in to the Attenborough of Brexit armpit towns. Jeanette Leach's Fearless about post-rock is good. Simon Reynolds is generally good on this kind of thing too.


boki

  • Defecranium
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 12:41:45 PM »
Still haven't read the second book, which I ought to because I love Black Box Recorder even more than The Auteurs.

It's well worth a read, if only for the account of Haines and Moore gatecrashing Glenn Hoddle's resignation press conference.


Utter Shit

  • Snotty Bumstead
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2019, 12:56:22 PM »
'A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s' by Alwyn W. Turner is both a political and social history, including popular culture, you might be interested in that.  It covers the whole decade.


I had a look at all the books people mentioned and went with this one in the end, cheers everyone!

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2019, 03:02:49 PM »
The chapter about hardcore in that (which I know a bit about) was so riddled with basic errors I couldn't trust him on any of the stuff I didn't know about.

Like what?  Agreed that Simon Reynolds is very good though.

king_tubby

  • A beating would do me the world of good
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2019, 03:44:33 PM »
Like what?  Agreed that Simon Reynolds is very good though.

Oooh, now you're making me doubt myself - just skimread the relevant bits and nothing jumped out.

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2019, 03:59:32 PM »
Apols, that may have came across too harsh in asking you to justify it, just that I didn't notice anything particularly amiss in Bob Stanley's book (despite having some way different opinions on some artists in it to him) and I can't even remember the chapter in question.  I've read a few books on the US hardcore scene (or at least ones about Riot Grrrl and DIY culture that heavily  feature it) - I'll revisit it and check it the hardcore bit.

king_tubby

  • A beating would do me the world of good
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2019, 04:05:04 PM »
Heh, no, I need picking up on my bullshit. There's only about two pages on hardcore, I may have been angered by him not mentioning Bad Brains. Re-read the grunge bit in case it was there as there's crossover, but apart from describing Soundgarden as 'gothic' couldn't see anything. Maybe it was the punk bits.

Or maybe a different book entirely!

Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2019, 04:15:35 PM »
It could be summit as simple as Bad Brains not entering the charts that they were not mentioned.  It's a book about 'popular' music that reached the charts after all!  Will re-read those bits in I get in from graft though.

Soundgarden was played in the goth clubs a fair bit (well, 'Black Hole Sun' was anyway) when I were a young un, though I'd stop short of calling them 'gothic' too.  Maybe Bob Stanley had the misfortune to visit Cuba Cuba in Newcastle a few times twenty years ago.

king_tubby

  • A beating would do me the world of good
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2019, 04:36:58 PM »
It could be summit as simple as Bad Brains not entering the charts that they were not mentioned.  It's a book about 'popular' music that reached the charts after all!  Will re-read those bits in I get in from graft though.

Yeah, but he talks about Minor Threat and Black Flag who were equally unsuccessful. And seems to imply that hardcore was mainly influenced by the Germs whereas Bad Brains were the primary originators, especially for Minor Threat and the DC scene.

king_tubby

  • A beating would do me the world of good
Re: Books about 90s culture in the UK
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2019, 04:37:56 PM »
That's right, it's 2019 and I'm back on my history of hardcore bullshit.

Now, the next lesson is on how Rites of Spring invented emo...