Iggy Pop once said of women: “However close they come I’ll always pull the rug from under them. That’s where my music is made.” For so long, rock ’n’ roll has been fueled by this fear and loathing of the feminine. The first book to look at rock rebellion through the lens of gender, The Sex Revolts captures the paradox at rock’s dark heart—the music is often most thrilling when it is most misogynist and macho. And, looking at music made by female artists, it asks: must it always be this way?
Provocative and passionately argued, the book walks the edgy line between a rock fan’s excitement and a critic’s awareness of the music’s murky undercurrents. Here are the angry young men like the Stones and Sex Pistols, cutting free from home and mother; here are the warriors and crusaders, The Clash, Public Enemy, and U2 taking refuge in a brotherhood-in-arms; and here are the would-be supermen, with their man-machine fantasies and delusions of grandeur, from Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison to Nick Cave and gangsta rap. The authors unravel the mystical, back-to-the-womb longings of the psychedelic tradition, from Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and Van Morrison to Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, and ambient techno. Alongside the story of male rock, The Sex Revolts traces the secret history of female rebellion in rock: the masquerade and mystique of Kate Bush, Siouxie, and Grace Jones, the demystifiers of femininity, like the Slits and Riot Grrl, tomboy rockers like L7 and P.J. Harvey, and confessional artists like Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Courtney Love.
A heady blend of music criticism, cultural studies, and gender theory by two of rock’s keenest observers, The Sex Revolts is set to become the key text in the women-in-rock debate.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 472 g
Dimensions: 213 x 133 mm
The Sex Revolts is a monumental addition to the rock-crit canon. - Village Voice
This is rock criticism on the high slopes, brave, rigorous and endlessly well-read. The book’s grand themes are sustained throughout and the authors are endlessly interesting, even about the many marginal and extreme figures on whom much of their arguments rest… This book is ultimately a landmark in rock and gender criticism precisely because it’s a beacon of coherence that’s also hip enough to convey the fact that rock is often at its most profound when it appears to be talking in tongues. - Mojo
What Simon Reynolds and Joy Press are offering us is not a guide to the distaff side of pop music but a startlingly acute reading of rock through the lens of gender… One of the only really important books yet written about popular music culture… What [Reynolds and Press] have achieved with The Sex Revolts is formidable: we may never be able to listen to rock music in the same way again. - Barney Hoskyns, The Observer
With The Sex Revolts, music critics and sonic psychoanalysts Simon Reynolds and Joy Press delve deep beneath glib exteriors to forage among rock’s dank sociosexual underpinnings… It is an analysis, not a polemic—but they do articulate the issues with a high degree of lucidity. - Neva Chonin, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Joy Press and Simon Reynolds display a breadth of knowledge and research that ought to be demanded from Cultural Studies books, a range of examples from the most mainstream to Godflesh and Hugo Largo, with every prominent figure in between… The Sex Revolts is right up there with the best tomes on Rock—Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces or Savage’s England Dreaming—and deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who cares passionately about the Rock discourse. - Nick Terry, The Lizard
Press and Reynolds range freely and effectively outside the narrow definition of rock culture. Their persuasive analysis of rebel misogynies starts with the phenomenon of ‘postwar mom-ism,’ and proceeds via Look Back in Anger, On the Road, Ken Kesey, and Timothy Leary to a clear understanding of how Jimi Hendrix came to ‘remember a city by its chicks’… One of the most impressive things about The Sex Revolts is the way it manages not to lose its moorings…in a sea of erudition… Reynolds and Press have opened up a new frontier of critical dissension and contumely. For that, all those who love rock should salute them. - Ben Thompson, New Statesman & Society
The language is punchy and erudite throughout. Phrases like ‘invertebrate goo’ resonate. Students of modern mythmaking should consider this required. - Cover
An absolute delight… The most stimulating, provocative, enjoyable and intelligent book on rock and its relation to our world since Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces. - Gay Times
Possibly the best analytic/critical tome this decade… Charged, challenging, and essential for anyone who still believes pop deserves to be approached with a little intelligence. - Melody Maker
Unabashed fans of male chauvinists from Jim Morrison to the Australian cult favorite Nick Cave, [Reynolds and Press] are also eloquent in their praise of a more womanly ‘oceanic’ aesthetic they discern in figures as diverse as the German avant-garde group Can, the punk poet Patti Smith, and Joni Mitchell’s far-flung heiresses. Let’s hope that this is not the last cross-disciplinary work that owes its ambitions to the cultural studies movement while refusing to succumb to academic provincialism and jargon. - Robert Christgau, New York Times Book Review
Reynolds and Press’s provocative and insightful The Sex Revolts should be read by everyone concerned with rock culture’s impact. What differentiates this book from previous efforts…is its serious treatment of the central theme—the complex relationships among gender, rebellion, and rock music… It is the confluence of carefully considered text, numerous footnotes, and a broad-ranging bibliography that shape and support the critical analysis. This timely volume adds reasoned understanding to a high profile-issue. It is strongly recommended. - Choice
Emerges as the only complete analysis of gender in rock music. The writing is intelligent, evocative, and engaging, rich in thought without becoming ponderous. Even those readers who question the authors’ nervy paradigms will find this an authoritative, comprehensive history of rock. Thorough, unique, and challenging… Highly recommended. - Library Journal
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