He’s the only person to whom The Velvet Underground ever played as an audience of one, the first British writer to talk to Patti Smith after her seventeen-year hiatus from rock. One reviewer hailed his previous book England is Mine as “surely the strangest and most beautiful book on pop music ever written.” Greil Marcus said that even the “merely superb” passages of that book read like “intellectual sunrises,” calling the work “intoxicated and intoxicating.” The author in question is Michael Bracewell, celebrated surveyor of the punk and rock scenes. Now, through funny, engaging, and occasionally devastating essays about his experience in the thick of the music scene of the 1990s, Bracewell tackles a decade where Greed became disguised as Attitude, where a “cozy, urban feelgood fable” replaced punk, and where the role of anxiety, so intrinsic to the culture and music of the 1980s, was swapped for a shallow “I feel your pain” sensibility. Read When Surface Was Depth and discover why Time Out has called Michael Bracewell, in a word, “terrific.”

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