Lipstick Traces (Harvard press, 1989, 497 pages), "a secret history of the twentieth century", is a long and mind-blowing book of comparative history by Greil Marcus. The book focuses mostly on the recurrence of historical images across the movements of Dada, Lettrism, the Situationist International, and Punk, with a number of tangetial discussions of Medieval heresies along the way. The author conveys in whirlwind prose his subjects' hysterical need to save and ruin the world. The idea is that, their broadsides out of print and their grafitti cleaned up, these movement barely left a trace, and yet they influence everything we do. From the prologue:
This book is about a single, serpentine fact: late in 1976 a record called "Anarchy in the U.K." was issued in London, and this even launched a transformation of pop music all over the world. Made by a four-man rock 'n' roll band called the Sex Pistols, and written by singer Johnny Rotten, the song distilled, in crudely poetic form, a critique of modern society once set out by a group of Paris-based intellectuals. First organized in 1952 as the Lettrist International, and refounded in 1957 at a conference of European avant-garde artists as the Situationist International, the group gained its greatest notoriety during the French revolt of May 1968, when the promises of its critique were distilled into crudely poetic slogans and spray-painted across the walls of Paris, after which the critique was given up to history and the group disappeared. The group looked back to the surrealists of the 1920s, the dadaists who made their names during and just after the First World War, the young Karl Marx, Saint-Just, various medieval heretics, and the Knights of the Round Table.
A theatrical adaption of the book was created by the Rude Mechanics, of Austin, Texas, and ran in Soho, New York City, in the summer of 2001. In it Dr. Narrator and Sex Pistols creator Malcolm McLaren lead the audience through a series of celebrated events: Johnny Rotten's first audition for the Sex Pistols, a dada evening at the Cabaret Voltaire and Michel Mourre's 1950 siege on Notre-Dame, for example.

You must go out and read this book, as it really cannot be explained. The following of transcription of the introduction to the site www.lipsticktraces.org might help...


You know how it is?

Ready?

Oh No!

Guitar

In 1534 the corruption of work is announced by one John of Lydon... "Work is a sin against perfect nature."



Crescendo starts

I'M NOT GOING TO EXPLAIN WHO THE SEX PISTOLS ARE. WE HAVE TO ASSUME THINGS RIGHT?



Second Crescendo

The sign on the map reads Zurich. Check your watch, it's 1916. Dada is being born.



Peak/Plateau

Finally, in the safety of a jail cell, the press asked Michel Moure, "What do you wish?" To which Moure replied, "I do not wish."


Fodor's lists the ten best restaurants in Auschwitz. That's true.


Kosovo is the story of a battle that took place six, seven hundred years ago. You may take hands across the aisles.

Go on, you've got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.




A soundtrack to the book was released in 1993 on Rough Trade Records. (It's currently out of print.) The tracklist should give you an idea of some of the terrain that the book covers:
Manic Street Preachers.
Sony Music, 5123869
Released July 14, 2003

Subtitled "A Secret History of the Manic Street Preachers", this is not a completist collection of b-sides by any stretch of the imagination. Even leaving off remixes and live versions, it would still take 3 CDs (this is only two, and it includes live versions). Three full albums worth of B-sides for a band that only has six proper albums. Plus another 4 CDs worth of remixes and live tracks. Damn that's a productive band.

It is interesting to hear the non-album tracks in this context, as I often just load up all the albums and singles as one huge playlist and hit random. As much as they have matured in the past 10 years, the transition from the recent (Valley Boy) to the ancient (We Her Majesty's Prisoners) is as smooth as you can imagine. There is a consistency of sound that speaks well of James and Sean's musical maturity at a young age. Clearly they have become more refined, but without sacrificing any of their energetic rock sound and street credibility. Lyrically the changes are more prominent. There is less effort to cram as many controversial statements as possible into a line, rather moving towards a more minimalist lyrical space where accusations and indictments are allowed room to breathe and expand.

Of the 35 tracks on here, fully a dozen I hadn't heard before and several of the live versions are ones I hadn't heard before either, so I was quite pleased to add this to my collection. I'm surprised at some of the tracks that weren't included, but I suppose that they were left off because they made the hits collection (Theme to M.A.S.H and Motown Junk).

Hot Spots: Rock and Roll Music, Comfort Comes, Dead Trees and Traffic Islands, Sculpture Of Man, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Last Christmas, Train in Vain.

Disc One

  1. Prologue To History
  2. 4 Ever Delayed
  3. Sorrow 16
  4. Judge Yr'self
  5. Socialist Serenade
  6. Donkeys
  7. Comfort Comes
  8. Mr Carbohydrate
  9. Dead Trees And Traffic Islands
  10. Horses Under Starlight
  11. Sepia
  12. Sculpture Of Man
  13. Spectators Of Suicide
  14. Democracy Coma
  15. Strip It Down (Live)
  16. Bored Out Of My Mind
  17. Just A Kid
  18. Close My Eyes
  19. Valley Boy
  20. We Her Majesty's Prisoners
Disc Two
  1. We Are All Bourgeois Now McCarthy
  2. Rock 'N' Roll Music Beatles
  3. It's So Easy Guns 'N' Roses
  4. Take The Skinheads Bowling Camper Van Beethoven
  5. Been A Son Nirvana
  6. Out Of Time Chris Farlowe
  7. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head Burt Bacharach
  8. Bright Eyes Art Garfunkel
  9. Train In Vain The Clash
  10. Wrote For Luck Happy Mondays
  11. What's My Name The Clash
  12. Velocity Girl Primal Scream
  13. Can't Take My Eyes Off You Andy Williams
  14. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel Paul Robeson
  15. Last Christmas George Michael

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.