Suspending normal service for a little bit of promotional business. The reviews are coming in, and I reserve the right to only post the nice ones here:

“Anyone with any interest in rock ’n’ roll or politics will find multitudes to enjoy here: would that all books about rock ’n’ roll were so intelligent, and all books about history such fun.” – The New Humanist

“Excellent and exhaustive… a fascinating journey.” – The Sunday Times

“Majestic…panoramic… packed with anecdote and detail…profoundly moving.” – The Sunday Telegraph

“Lynskey’s ability to link history, culture, politics and music makes the argument not just for the potency of protest but the need for music journalism. The stories he tells are as epoch-shaping as the songs themselves. 8/10” – NME

“Amazing… very long and somehow in these times very important.” – Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers

“An admirable piece of work… This is a great story book. Each one of these songs has a story and is a story in itself.” – The Irish Times

“Lucid and authoritative” – The Guardian

“A scrupulously researched, elegantly written and highly absorbing account of the intersection of politics and music.” – The Independent

“Excellent” – Lauren Laverne, Grazia

“A gem for history and music buffs alike” – Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

“I can’t recommend it enough.” – Kerry McCarthy MP (Lab, Bristol East)

“Quite an undertaking… It will send you back — or for the first time — to an array of extraordinary songs.” – The Observer

“A panoramic sweep through pop and rock’s insurrectionary past.” –
The Jewish Chronicle

“You’ll never listen to the radio the same way again… Lynskey brings songs you take for granted back to life while making ‘difficult’ songs seem approachable.” – Elle

“Brilliant… Each track is the starting point for a thought-provoking, fluent discourse on a theme. It’s witty, well researched and contains excellent appendices, sources and epilogue.” – Telegraph.co.uk Culture

“Excellent… He mixes interviews new and old with diligent research and plenty of fresh insights. 4/5.” – Time Out

“A meticulous picture of the role of protest in popular music… a compelling, informed and enlightening read.” – The Big Issue

“Superbly written and expertly researched. 4/5.” – Shortlist

“Compassionate.” – The Daily Telegraph

“An extraordinary piece of work… it will undoubtedly take its place alongside Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again and Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming as a classic of rock scholarship.” – State (Ireland)

“An intensely satisfying read.” – The Stool Pigeon

“There are some powerful narratives here, which stand as exemplary essays on their subjects… The book’s achievement is not only to make me want to listen to the songs, but to experience more widely the people behind the music.” –
John Self’s Asylum

“Impressive and extensive.” (4/5) – The List

“33 Revolutions Per Minute argues, in an entertaining and readable style, that songs have had the potential to elicit change. 4/5.” – Metro

“A highly read­able and engrossing history of a certain kind of popular movement, with whole sections that can just be dipped into when you’re in the mood.” – The Socialist Worker

“A thorough if necessarily left-wing history of political dissent since the Thirties.” – The Spectator

A piece I wrote for NME.com.

One for the Observer.

A feature and review at The Quietus

An interview with Nemone on 6 Music (starts around 1:08)

And one on Radio 4’s Front Row (starts around 7:20)

And an interview I did with the Scotsman. After 15 years of interviewing people, this is the first time it’s happened to me and it’s an interesting process because you see how, even with a professional, conscientious interviewer, wires can get crossed and errors slip through the net. Celebrities often complain about being “misquoted” or having quotes “taken out of context”, as if journalists are all pernicious muckrakers trying to trip them up. I wonder if what often actually happens is a simple misunderstanding. So I have no criticism at all of the interviewer (because he was great) but in the interests of accuracy:

My parents weren’t true-blue Conservatives. My mum’s a swing voter who voted Conservative in the 80s and Labour in 1997, while my dad never told us who he voted for — my mum thinks it was Green.

My bandmates weren’t from the squat scene, although I did have friends in that scene, living around Lewisham and New Cross.

Burn Baby Burn was about the LA riots of 1992, not 1984.

Although it’s true to say that my band was pretty terrible, it was called Vida Loca (no “La”), after this highly recommended comic book:


Suze Rotolo 1943-2011

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s former girlfriend and muse, died last Thursday after a long illness. I came to admire her a great deal while researching my book. As a so-called “red diaper” baby and member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), she had the radical upbringing that Dylan lacked and she prodded his political conscience into life. Without her input, it’s by no means certain that Dylan would have ever have written Blowin’ in the Wind or Masters of War. She even illustrated several of Dylan’s protest songs when they first appeared in Broadside magazine. After the couple split, and Dylan began to divest himself of what he saw as political baggage, she continued to work as an activist and artist. Here’s the relevant section from my book, the scene being Greenwich Village, 1961:

In some ways, the most important person Dylan met during those first few months in the Village was not an industry figure, but a smart, beautiful seventeen-year-old named Suze Rotolo. They were introduced in July and fell in love almost immediately. At the apartment they shared on West 4th Street, Rotolo fed her boyfriend’s gargantuan appetite for new stimuli with the likes of Arthur Rimbaud, Robert Graves and Bertolt Brecht: he devotes five pages in Chronicles to the ‘outrageous power’ of Brecht and Weill’s ‘Pirate Jenny’ and its terrifying black freighter. Crucially, Rotolo also awoke his political conscience. She was working as a secretary for CORE and came home each night with stories about the civil rights struggle. One day towards the end of January 1962, with a CORE benefit show looming, Dylan composed ‘The Ballad of Emmett Till’, about a black fourteen-year-old who had been beaten and shot to death in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Bob Dylan the protest singer was born.

Dylan denies he was ever a protest singer, but then he didn’t think Woody Guthrie wrote protest songs either. He argued instead in terms of ‘topical songs’, like those written by his Village contem- poraries Tom Paxton and Len Chandler. ‘He didn’t read or clip the papers and refer to it later,’ Rotolo told Dylan’s biographer, Anthony Scaduto. ‘With Dylan it was not that conscious journalistic approach. It was more poetical. It was all intuitive, on an emotional level.’