Review of ‘1982: From One Extreme to Another’ by Eddie McKenzie

An exhausting trek through the pop music and news events of 1982, week by week, month by month, with a British focus. I liked the idea of taking this one year and considering why it’s one of the most significant for music. The author isn’t saying it was the best year, but there was a lot of great music, especially if you love synth pop. It was a better read than James Acaster’s book about 2016, that’s for sure. I had several problems with McKenzie’s book, however, finding it unsatisfactory. I chose to read it partly because I like the music and partly for research.

Firstly, the text is littered with so many typos, grammatical errors and misspelt names. Sometimes names are even spelt two different ways in the same paragraph! It was such a pity that the author had paid a lot of attention to the structure and themes of the book while neglecting to correct the errors. Secondly, the text makes liberal use of quotations without referencing them. A list of sources used at the end of the book is a step in the right direction but if I wanted to check any individual quotation I’d be stuck. There are occasional footnotes, but they are scraps of trivia or personal insights. There’s no index, either. Thirdly, the author goes a little too far in his opinions on certain musicians and even insults people who like fretless bass. Maybe it’s supposed to be funny.

Finally, I didn’t care for the descriptions of current events such as the Falklands War, Palestine conflict, Northern Ireland conflict, troubles in the economy, etc. I’ve read about them elsewhere in properly referenced history books. I felt that these episodes should have been cut (making the book manageably shorter) and references to the events, where relevant, integrated into discussions of the music.

In summary, if you want a book about the music of 1982, with a particular focus on what was in the charts, this is the one to read. Possibly the only one, I don’t know. Just be aware that there are typos on pretty much every page.

Independently published in 2021.

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