Mars By 1980: The Story of Electronic Music

by David Stubbs

Electronic music is everywhere now. Look at the TV series ‘Stranger Things’, for example, with its John Carpenter-inspired synth-scapes. ‘Mars By 1980’ tells the story of how music got to this point. It was a long time getting here but now the future has arrived.

The book is split into four main parts:

Part 1 describes the birth of electronic music and is indeed an education to read; very little of this was I aware of so a great pleasure to learn of it in such detail.

Part 2 covers the work of such individuals as Stevie Wonder, Sun Ra and Miles Davis.

My favourite part of the book is part 3 covering bands I love such as Kraftwerk, New Order, Depeche Mode and The Human League. As well as being electronic bands we would do well to remember these were all pop bands too – and bloody good as well!

Part 4 takes us up to now with artists such as Brian Eno, who could well have a book unto himself.

I must question the absence of John Carpenter in this book – as well as producing many wonderful synth-driven soundtracks, he has been a great influence on many modern artists, Zombi and Survive, for example.

But this aside, the splendidly named ‘Mars By 1980’ is an informative read indeed.

Published by Faber & Faber

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (