A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Voxtrot (again)

I haven't mentioned Voxtrot for a few days, but I still can't get their Raised By Wolves EP out of my head. In a good way.

They were utterly charming when we saw them play a CMJ show at Coda - and amazingly fresh-faced. (Tiny pic courtesy of the lovely Emma.) People so young simply shouldn't be able to write songs like these. Leaving a song as good as "Wrecking Force" for an (apparently unplanned) encore is bizarre. Voxtrot seem to have so many great songs that they're not sure what to do with them.

Vikings reincarnated in khakis

Good piece here by Kimberly Chun in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, about the timeliness of Zep. Includes copious quotage from our very own Erik Davis.

And if you're in San Francisco, you should know about this upcoming event:

A short, crazed reading from Erik's book Led Zeppelin IV.

Part of "Live on Valencia!: Writers Behind the Music," emceed by Ben Fong-Torres.

The hopefully beer-soaked event is part of San Francisco's annual Litquake LitCrawl. Free.

853 Valencia Street
San Francisco
6:30 - 7:45S
Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

10.0 Headed Boy

Domino's UK reissue of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea has prompted Pitchfork to give it a 10.0 review today.

I particularly like this part of the review:

What the hell? A guy in a rock band saying he was emotionally devastated by a book everyone else in America read for a middle-school assignment? I felt embarrassed for him at first, but then, the more I thought about it and the more I heard the record, I was awed. Mangum's honesty on this point, translated directly to his music, turned out to be a source of great power.

(Thanks to Allison in Chicago for alerting me to this.)

And it's just over a month until we publish Kim Cooper's book about the album...

Monday, September 26, 2005

(I'm Being Followed By A) School Shadow

I haven't been able to access the video yet, but here's a link to Brian Udelhofen's Shadow Percussion Project, in which the Minnetonka High School Percussion Ensemble make a brave stab at a couple of tracks off Endtroducing...

Our music teacher at school wouldn't have been a DJ Shadow fan. He once came perilously close to letting us sing the Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking With You" in the school song competition, but we ended up doing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" instead. Needless to say, our rendition sucked. Deliberately.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Shiny Shiny Pimpmobile

Abby at work just directed a few of us towards this relatively new blog, which is excellent. Its list of recent posts would make a great track-listing for an album, reminiscent of East River Pipe's The Gasoline Age CD, from 1999.

Off Duty
Car service
Airport, again
Make that 11 Most Dangerous Intersections
$2.95 a gallon
I hate New Jersey

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Martyred Misconstrued

From a piece about the Murmur book, in Pioneer Press. (Publishing 53 weekly newspapers in suburban Chicago!)

Niimi includes an appendix spelling out Michael Stipe's difficult-to-decipher lyrics. Niimi says he felt torn between leaving the words mysterious and pinning them down.

He listened to demo recordings and concert tapes to compare how Stipe sang the words -- changing them from one performance to the next.

"I did this triangulation process, like a philologist would analyze an old Biblical text," Niimi says.

Thanks to Niimi's book, R.E.M. listeners finally know that the opening lines of "Laughing" are: "Laocoön and her two sons/Pressured storm tried to move/No other more emotion bound/Martyred misconstrued."

Or are they? Niimi is hesitant to claim that his version of the Murmur lyrics is "definitive." Besides, the amorphous quality of the words is one of the reasons Niimi and so many other people consider Murmur one of the best rock albums of all time.

"People who like it are people who like ambiguity," Niimi says.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Let the Games Commence!

A few days early, but what the heck...If you're interested in writing a book for the series, for publication in Spring 07 or Autumn 07, you've got between now and October 31st to email me (david@continuum-books.com). No need to write up a proposal yet - just very briefly tell me who you are and what you might be interested in writing about, and I'll add you to the list. Everyone on that list will then receive an Invitation to Pitch (with guidelines on how to do so) in early November, and with any luck we'll be able to sign up 7 or 8 of the best proposals, for publication in 2007.

And not to come across all Cher or anything, but these may well end up being the very last books in the series, so let's hope they're good'uns.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Back to School

From the Music Department at the University of Southampton in England - a course that uses the 33 1/3 series in an interesting way. I wonder what the kids make of Warren Zanes's book...


1 unit Course tutor: Dr Sarah Hill
CP value 15

Pre-requisite: Consent of the instructor; students are expected to have achieved at mark of at least 60 in a second-year unit on a topic in popular music, e.g. MUSI 2017 Music in Popular Culture, MUSI 2083 British Rock Music, MUSI 2088 Flappers to Rappers.

Aims: to investigate ways of analyzing recorded performances of popular music and understand the long-playing record as an indication of stylistic and cultural changes in popular culture.

Objectives: Having successfully completed the unit, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of popular musical styles, popular musicology, and the analytical techniques currently used to deepen understanding of popular music, key issues facing musicologists in the field of popular music studies.

Content: This unit is built round a series of case studies, focusing on albums from the popular musical repertoire of the last 50 years. Using the recent Continuum 33-1/3 Series of album guides as the basis for listening and discussion, you will be introduced to larger issues surrounding the interpretation of popular music recordings as historical artifacts and as larger structural units for interpretation and analysis.

Method of delivery: one two-hour lecture per week, including student-led seminars and formal class discussions.

Method of assessment: book review (c. 1200 words) 20%; class presentation 30%; write up of class presentation (2000-2500 words) 20%; 6 fortnightly statements (via Blackboard) of class discussions 30%.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Audio Culture

It's exactly a year since we published Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music - a wonderful anthology of writings put together by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner. And I thought maybe a few of you might not have stumbled across it yet. So, here it is.

We've received many glowing reviews for the book, but my favourite is still this one, which was the first to appear. It's written by Dene Grigar, and was published in Leonardo.

I was sitting in a North Texas bar with my copy of Audio Culture laying on the counter in front of me. A neatly-dressed man in his late 30s who had just come to the bar to buy a drink struck up a conversation with my companion and me while he waited for service. Eyeing the book, our conversation turned to its contents. "Was [Karlheinz] Stockhausen" included? (There are two essays by the composer.) Was there an essay about experimental music in the book? (There is a whole section devoted to experimental music.) Did it contain a good reference section? (There are seven different sections.) Picking up the book, he thumbed through its pages. I watched him scan the various essays. Then, he took out his pen and jotted down the ISBN number. An aspiring electronic musician, he said he had been looking for a book "like this one" to read.

I tell this story because it illustrates the kind of reaction many readers will have toward Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner’s Audio Culture. I, for one, annotated the book severely, marking it up in various color of highlighters and pens and dog-earring its pages––so much of what it offers is vital to my work and those articles that are not fascinated me, nonetheless. To be honest, no one looking at the collection of 57 well-chosen essays written by some of the biggest names in music and reprinted from books and publications well-noted for their contribution to music theory will be able to resist reading and buying the book.

In fact, there is just so much that makes this book valuable that it is difficult to name them all. Both the content and the structure of Audio Culture add to its strength. Essays by futurist Luigi Russolo, musician Edgard Varèse, theorist Marshall McLuhan, several by Brian Eno, Pauline Oliveros, Glenn Gould, Umberto Eco, several by John Cage, artist László Moholy-Nagy, and, of course, Stockhausen are among the many eclectic readings included in the book. Some of the most interesting essays come from Mary Russo and Daniel Warner ("Rough Music, Futurism, and Postpunk Industrial Noise Bands"), Simon Reynolds ("Noise" and "Post-Rock"), McLuhan ("Visual and Accoustic Space"), Ola Stockfelt ("Adequate Modes of Listening"), and Kim Cascone ("The Aesthetics of Failure"). Essays at times reference one another (as in Henry Cowell talking about Varèse in "The Joys of Noise"), engage in debate (as in Iain Chambers and Pierre Schaeffer talking about listening), and build upon other’s theory (as in Russo and Warner’s talking about Russolo’s futurist views). The end result is a complete and cohesive treatment of modern music. Anyone who has edited a collection knows that such an outcome is not an easy one to attain, but it is certainly achieved here.

Divided into two parts , "Theories" and "Practices," containing three and six sections, respectively, Audio Culture offers essays that address such topics as definitions and approaches to music, modes of listening, electronic reproduction, types of musics, DJ culture, and electronica, to name just a few. Also included with the essays is, as suggested previously, an abundance of reference material, from a Chronology of modern music, to a Glossary, to Selected Discography and a Selected Bibliography, Notes for Quotations, an Index of Quotations, as well as a general Index. Each section opens with a series of quotes contextualizing the theme or pertaining directly to it. Aldous Huxley’s comment about "the twentieth century" being known as "the Age of Noise" helps to kick off the section on "Music and Its Others: Noise, Sound, and Silence," for example. Each section and chapter contains an introduction by the editors. Introductions for chapters are set apart from the essay by a gray textbox.

As one would expect about a book on music, no images are included. But it may seem strange to many readers that no CD-ROM accompanies it either. This weakness is the only one this reviewer can find in a book that otherwise packs so much muscle.

With growing interest in sound on web-based environments and the ease with which to produce it, Cox and Warner’s Audio Culture stands as a must-read for both aspiring artists and music theorists alike.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rock Novels

In the September issue of Bookslut, you'll find a great feature article by Michael Schaub, about rock novels. You can read it here.

Didn't Louise whats-her-face from Sleeper write one of these, too?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pulse of the Twin Cities

An interesting piece about the series in the current issue of Pulse of the Twin Cities.

Going back home to England for a holiday this evening - so this will be quiet for a few days. I wish, like Wyclef, I could be Gone 'Til November, but September 12th is looking more likely.

ARSC Book Awards Finalists

This might be of interest to some of you: a list of the finalists for the 2005 ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. Which is code for: here are some good new books about music. I suspect the 33 1/3 books are too short to qualify for this, but we have a couple of our books on the list: Gwen Ansell's Soweto Blues, an oral history of South African Jazz, and Bob Darden's People Get Ready - his history of black gospel music.

Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, by Elijah Wald (Harper Collins).
Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf, by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman(Pantheon).
Robert Johnson: Mythmaking and Contemporary American Culture, by Patricia R. Schroeder(University of Illinois Press).

Adrian Willaert: A Guide to Research, by David Kidger (Routledge).
Alan Rawsthorne: A Bio-Bibliography, by John Dressler (Praeger).
Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist, by Sofia Moshevich(McGill-Queens University Press).
Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography, by Burgess Speed (Praeger).
Performing Music in the Age of Recording, by Robert Philip (Yale University Press).

Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942, by Tony Russell (Oxford University Press).
Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, by Ed Cray (Norton).

BEST RESEARCH in RECORDED WORLD MUSICAlbanian Urban Lyric Song in the 1930s, by Eno Koco (Scarecrow Press).
Arrest the Music!: Fela and his Rebel Art and Politics, by Tejumola Olaniyan (Indiana University Press).
Git Zaman Gel Zaman, by Cernal Unlu (Fonograf Gramofon Tab Plak).
Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music and Politics in South Africa, by Gwen Ansell (Continuum Books).

Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, by Mark Katz (University of California Press).
Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1890-1919, by Tim Brooks(University of Illinois Press).

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost, by Ben Young, ed.(Revenant Records).
The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman, 1945-1947, by Loren Schoenberg (Mosaic Records).
Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend, by Michael Dregni (Oxford University Press).
Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington, by Nadine Cohodas (Pantheon).
Satchmo: The Louis Armstrong Encyclopedia, by Michael Meckna (Greenwood Press).
Tom Talbert: His Life and Times, by Bruce Talbot(Scarecrow Press).

Fonotipia Recordings: A Centennial Survey, by Michael E. Henstock (published by author).
Discography of OKeh Records, 1918-1934, by Ross Laird and Brian Rust (Praeger).
Syrena Record: Poland's First Recording Company, 1904-1939, by Tomasz Lerski (Editions Karin).
Victor Red Seal Discography: Vol. I: Single-Sided Series (1903-1925), by John R. Bolig(Mainspring Press).

Andrews Sisters: A Biography and Career Record, by H. Arlo Nimmo (McFarland).
Celia: My Life, an Autobiography, by Celia Cruz and Ana Cristina Reymundo (Harper Collins).
That Moaning Saxophone: The Six Brown Brothers and the Dawning of a Musical Craze, by Bruce Vermazen (Oxford University Press).

Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise and Fall of American Soul, by Craig Hansen Werner (Crown).
House on Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul, by John A. Jackson (Oxford University Press).
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You: Aretha Franklin, Respect and the Making of a Soul Music Masterpiece, by Matt Dobkin (St. Martins Press).
Luther: The Life and Longing of Luther Vandross, by Craig Seymour (Harper Collins).
Original Marvelettes: Motown's Mystery Girl Group, by Marc Taylor (Aloiv).
People Get Ready!: A New History of Black Gospel Music, by Robert Darden (Continuum Books).

Del Shannon: Home and Away: The Complete Recordings, 1960-1970, by Brian Young (Bear Family).
Freddy Fresh Presents the Rap Records, by Freddy Fresh (Nerby Publishing).
Never Break the Chain: Fleetwood Mac and the Making of Rumours, by Cath Carroll (Chicago Review Press).
Nirvana: The Complete Recording Sessions, by Rob Jovanovic (Firefly).
Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story, by Dave Thompson (ECW Press).
Steve Marriott: All Too Beautiful, by Paolo Hewitt and John Hellier (Helter Skelter).