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ENGLAND'S DREAMING by Jon Savage

ENGLAND'S DREAMING

Sex Pistols and Punk Rock

By Jon Savage

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-06963-4
Publisher: St. Martin's

 In an account packed with incisive social analysis, a London- based writer who contributes regularly to US music magazines (Spin, Rolling Stone, etc.) chronicles the lurid yet surprisingly complex rise and fall of Britain's quintessential punk band, the Sex Pistols. Taking his title from the lyrics of the band's ``God Save the Queen'' (``There is no future, in England's dreaming. No future for you, no future for me''), Savage begins with a long description of the nihilistic, in-your-face fashion world in which Malcolm McLaren, the group's manager, got his start. These first pages are decidedly slow, but they are the only slow ones in a long book that--among countless other things--describes McLaren's apparently seething, opportunistic ambition, and the ``miasma'' of violence that followed the Sex Pistols from an early, foulmouthed TV interview to a gruesome tour across America's South (recounted by Noel E. Monk and Jimmy Guterman in 12 Days on the Road, 1990) and the drug-induced death of bass player Sid Vicious. Throughout, Savage provides much intriguing background information, especially about the suffocating nature of recession-hit 1970's England, along with illuminating quotes from dozens of sources. His narrative is filled with pithy insights that keep their appropriate punch even when wallowing in verbosity (``The very English phlegm which had served as a powerful psychological metaphor for denial...was now, literally, expelled in torrents as...Punk audiences covered their object of desire with sheets of saliva''). Though at times overly detailed and wordy, still a compelling and intelligent narrative that's as much about the nature of anarchy as about the Sex Pistols and punk rock. (Sixteen-page color insert.)