I read loads of dumb books about pop music and so it’s even better when one that’s not dumb comes along. Packaged as a rather garishly designed mini-coffee table book, Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and songs that defined the 1980s, is hilariously amusing, as it should be. What a cast of characters! And it spans the forgettable one hit wonders and MTV phenomena to the “cooler” stuff. Often Mad World might be seen as a funhouse mirror offering up some of the radio junk that didn’t make it into Simon Reynolds’ superb postpunk book for example. But there are overlaps too, such as the inevitable Joy Division. But for me it was terrific to see sharp insightful quotes from the likes of Bow Wow Wow, Adam and the Ants, and The Psychedelic Furs. And the amazingly prescient DEVO! Gerald Casale comments on their early shows: “We became a performance art group, and a lot of it was based on aesthetic confrontation that wound up in verbal and physical confrontation. The more that happened the more excited we became. The kind of crowds we were able to get in front of irritated us. The feeling was, If these people hate us, we’re on the right track because we don’t respect them either. We wore black plastic trash bags, poked holes in them for our legs to come out, taped them up around our necks so they wouldn’t fall down, and we’d be naked [underneath]. And we wore clear plastic masks; they were creepy, the had lips and eyebrows. We would play local bars, and it would get really nasty. A guy would scream, ‘You guys are assholes!’ And I’d scream back, ‘No, you’re the asshole.’ Then he’d go ‘I’m gonna smack your fucking head in!’” That’s entertainment, eh?