The Great Indie Discography
If Gareth Gates doesn't get you going, if Ronan Keating doesn't rub your rhubarb, then this is the book for you. In his deeply knowledgeable way, Martin C. Strong has chronicled the careers of those musicians who positioned themselves outside the mainstream of conventional 'pop'. From the Americans like Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart who offered something different to the flower power'n'peace of the 60s, through the filth and fury of punk, to the acid house culture that spawned the Happy Mondays and Primal Scream, and onto the ascension of grunge and its crown princes Nirvana: this is another dizzying feat of research from the Strong pantheon.
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I think--as an indie musician who was influenced to a lesser or greater degree by many of the bands in this book--that the reviews available online are overly anal-retentive about detail, to the point of just degenerating into vapid assholery. Look, ANYONE who can tackle several decades of independent music (in more than one nation) during a time when garage bands were recording EP's on inexpensive 4-tracks and releasing vinyl and cassettes while seeing the music biz and recording technology change around them deserves a f*cking gold medal. Oh, boo hoo. Strong made a mistake or two, or didn't include YOUR favorite band (or maybe its your band that didn't get the space in the book you think you are due...is that it?)...think about how many genuinely great bands played during this time period. We saw the birth OF "indie" music (and the independent record companies that supported them) at the same time. I think the author tackled an almost impossible subject with grace, clarity, and authority. This belongs on any music lover's bookshelf, despite the fact that it isn't perfectly comprehensive (a feat that would probably take two books this size, and then...oops! You forgot The Kittens!) Buy it or don't, but give the guy a break.
While it's awfully nice to be mentioned, a minor correction is needed: Steve Barton and I started Translator after we'd toured Japan in a Beatle tribute band and decided, on the plane home, to have our own band and play Steve's songs. I recruited Larry Dekker, who I'd known at UC Santa Cruz, and we played as a trio for a year or so, and when a mutual friend introduced us to Robert Darlington, we asked him to join Translator after seeing him light up the stage in his band The Lies, at the Whiskey.