The Music That Saved a Decade

Divining the Eighties underground

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Image of Barbican Music Library The Music That Saved a Decade Amebix rehearsal, basement of ‘Stoat Hall’, Bath, 1987

Punk and Oi!, hip hop, grindcore, crust and hardcore-house

While there have been various books and shows on specific aspects of the 1980's underground, this exhibition is perhaps the first attempt at a cross-decade overview. It steps back from single genres or individual venues to survey the bigger picture and what really went on. Dismissed as a grey decade where money replaced self-expression, once the surface of the 1980s is scratched, its underground is revealed to be fascinating – a subversive and genuinely fertile period of youth culture.

This exploration is based around the idea of four representative years: 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1989.

Amebix rehearsal, basement of ‘Stoat Hall’, Bath, 1987  © Andi Brooks

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