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Psychedelic Decadence: Sex, Drugs, and Low Art in Sixties and Seventies Britain
by Martin Jones
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Kat, 5/12/2005

Psychedelic my ass.

With a title like Psychedelic Decadence, I had high hopes. The summaries for this book promised to cover many of my favorite topics: horror movies, psychedelia, David Bowie, comic books, biker gangs, vintage porn… what more could I possibly ask for? Substance would have been good. Grammar would have been nice, too. And I could do without ever hearing the words “bird,” “kit,” or “filly,” ever again.

The first couple chapters were vague, but hinted at a greater meaning that connected things like Dracula A.D. 1972 and Roxy Music. I’m all for attributing depth to what is normally looked at as cultural trash, so I really gave the guy a chance. For a minute, Jones starts to set up a nihilistic counterpoint to the giddiness and mind expansion of drugs and free love. But as the book goes on, it quickly becomes apparent that the reader is just a captive audience to a summary of Mr. Jones’s timeline of wank material he stole from his older brother. By the end, it would seem there is no deeper connection between the laundry list of kitsch he presents, beyond the fact that The Kids really dig sex, drugs, violence, and rock and roll. Oh, and sticking it to The Man. Thanks for clarifying that for us, Martin.

I could go on about the unhealthy fixation with soft core British sex comedies. I could go on about the incredibly bizarre segment dedicated to comparing Fawlty Towers and Aleister Crowley. Or the pages (yes, that’s multiple) devoted to copying Mayfair centerfolds’ bio information verbatim. But instead, I’m just going to say that I’m disappointed, and slightly embarrassed that I’ve ever argued the importance of pop culture, for fear that it came out anything like this.

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