This sequel to Punk Diary, an encyclopedic chronicle of punk music from 1970 to 1979, covers the years 1980 to 1982. While that's a considerably shorter period of time, it's arguably a more complex one. With the bloom off punk, the early '80s saw the coming and going of many strange offshoots, false starts, and short-lived movements, while witnessing the birth of MTV and producing the artists who would form the backbone of college radio and pre-Nirvana alternative music. In other words, it was a very strange time, and a period covered in painstaking detail in Post Punk Diary's day-by-day account. Take a sample entry from Sept. 25, 1980, a date that saw the release of a new single from Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, the British debut of The Dead Kennedys, a BBC recording session by Nick Cave's The Birthday Party, and the release of the second album by Martha & The Muffins. Was the future of music to be New Wave, more punk, gothic brooding, or gimmicky Canadian pop? As with any point in musical history, it was impossible to tell at the moment, but it's hard to think of a time when the choices were more diverse and strange. Consider the case of Dexy's Midnight Runners: By fusing traditional Celtic elements with soul music, the band made a name for itself and generated speculation about a bright future. Then the attention went to leader Kevin Rowland's head, and the band severed ties with the press and began releasing only periodic statements to explain lineup and image changes, such as the introduction of overalls. This brattish behavior stirred up a great deal of debate and created a good deal of drama… all of which seems less than irrelevant now given the band's failed aspirations and instant-punchline status. Its story is just one of many charted by Post Punk Diary, a work that goes beyond being a thorough reference guide to become a finely detailed snapshot of an unusual musical era.
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