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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Mike Poplawski in Canada kindly emails to say that he's set up an entry for the series on Wikipedia. You can check it out here.

Embarrassingly, I don't know much about how this all works, but those of you who do - feel free to poke around and make improvements.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A book recommendation

One of the many writers who was unlucky not to make the final cut last week was Kevin Dettmar. His new book is published by Routledge and it's definitely worth reading, especially if you're interested in the history of music writing.

A couple of introductory points: (a) don't let the bluntness of the title put you off - the book doesn't really ask that question at all, and (b) the book is cursed by having one of the worst cover designs I've ever seen. (And I don't feel bad saying that - we've had our fair share here at Continuum over the years.) Once you get past the title and the cover, this is an excellent book.

Dettmar is particularly strong on the first wave of "anti-rock" writing in the 1950s. Here's a good passage from the chapter on American nervousness about rock & roll:


"In the most preposterous example that I've come across, a popular columnist for the Washington Post, John Crosby, quite literally mistakes the burgeoning of rock & roll for its demise:

One thing about Elvis Presley, the convulsive shouter of rock 'n' roll songs - if that's what they are: This may be the end of rock 'n' roll and just conceivably a return to musical sanity. I mean where do we go from Elvis Presley?...Popular music has been in a tailspin for years now and I have hopes that with Presley it has touched bottom and will just have to start getting better.

As we'll explore in chapter 3, a number of baby boomers are eager to suggest, for sometimes transparently personal reasons, that the death of Elvis Presley in 1977 marked as well the death of rock & roll, but Crosby is perhaps the only critic ever to suggest that the ascent of Elvis spelled 'the end of rock 'n' roll.' This confusion of growth with death suggests that a complex set of cultural contradictions is at work.

By the same token, the angriest, ugliest contribution to the genre belongs to William Leonard, writing in 1957 for the Chicago Tribune. His disdain fairly (or unfairly) oozes from the passage:

Maybe you don't care when an ex-teenager like me tells you your rock 'n' roll music sounds like two firemen chopping down a door. That's your privilege. Just don't try to tell us grown folks, complete with the right to vote, that it's important, and history-making.
You and your rock 'n' roll music and your 'revolt against authority' are embarked on a children's crusade. For the great majority of you who don't know anything about history - the children's crusade ended nowhere, with all the kiddies dead.
That's where your 'revolt' is going. Relax for a few years, and, first thing you know, you'll be grown up.


There's also an endnote I really like, on page 170 of the book:

"One other complicated response to this phenomenon is the notion of the 'guilty pleasure': yeah, I know that Guns n' Roses (or Coldplay) are crap, but I like them anyway: they're a guilty pleasure. This, too, seems a mode of betrayal best left to one side by real fans; as my friend Jennifer Wicke says, for any form of popular entertainment that gives real joy, real pleasure, there's no guilt. We need, instead, critics who are willing to do the hard work of explaining why they value the music that others want to write off as pop - this is an important and compelling critical project. Call it the Celine Dion problem, perhaps."

Which ties in very nicely to Carl Wilson's forthcoming 33 1/3 about Celine...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

21 New Books for the Series

This wasn't an easy decision-making process, there were just so many good proposals to choose from. A very big "thank you" to everyone who submitted a proposal - I learned a lot just from reading them all.

Anyway, I'm very pleased to announce that we'll be publishing the following books in the 33 1/3 series during 2007 and 2008:

"If You're Feeling Sinister" by Scott Plagenhoef
"Aja" by Don Breithaupt
"Shoot Out the Lights" by Hayden Childs
"Pretty Hate Machine" by Daphne Carr
"Use Your Illusion" by Eric Weisbard
"Horses" by Phil Shaw
"Double Nickels on the Dime" by Mike Fournier
"Pink Moon" by Amanda Petrusich
"People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm" by Shawn Taylor
"Achtung Baby" by Stephen Catanzarite
"20 Jazz Funk Greats" by Drew Daniel
"The Dreaming" by Ann Powers
"Rid of Me" by Kate Schatz
"Another Green World" by Geeta Dayal
"Songs in the Key of Life" by Zeth Lundy
"Trout Mask Replica" by Kevin Courrier
"Let's Talk About Love" by Carl Wilson
"Lucinda Williams" by Anders Smith Lindall
"69 Love Songs" by LD Beghtol
“Marquee Moon” by Peter Blauner
“Swordfishtrombones” by David Smay

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Big Pink review on The Band website

This is one of the more provocative and in-depth reviews of a 33 1/3 book I've read since the series started. It's written by Peter Viney, and appears on The Band website (theband.hiof.no) which you can access here.

I've never really thought of Greg (the book's narrator) as "a wanker if ever there was one" - as Peter does; I've always felt sorry for the guy. And I simply refuse to believe that the book exploits Richard Manuel in any way - it seems to me to be an extravagantly affectionate tribute to the man and his talents. But this is a fascinating reading of John Niven's book, nevertheless:


“Music from Big Pink is a work of semi-fiction. While real people and events have been described, certain conversations and scenarios have been imagined by the author.”

Hmm. I think that disclaimer on the inside title page would sway weakly in the face of libel action. Unusually, there is no acknowledgment to publishers and composers for the use of lyrics either. Technically, permission should have been sought, but he gets away with it by keeping the quotes very short. In spite of that, enough of Rockin’ Chair gets quoted as chapter lead ins to be in the permissions area when accumulated, not that Rockin’ Chair is on the album. And the one that gets long quotes is Ain’t No More Cane which is ‘Trad.’ so not copyright. The quote from Bessie Smith would probably have needed permission. I guess it wasn’t sought because it wouldn’t have been granted.

Any Band fan will have problems in seeing the real people, some of whom they may have met, in a fictional setting. Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Howard Alk, John Simon, Martin Scorsese, Albert & Sally Grossman are among the others who appear. The immediate reaction is ‘This isn’t fair!’ but I’m not sure that it’s any less fair than books like Elaine Jesmer’s Number One With A Bullet where Motown people are easily recognizable. If the author had fictionalized totally and had Bobby Robinson writing ‘The Load’ with Gareth Hudman on piano and Lee Helmet on drums, he might have been safer from comebacks, but ultimately it would have been less honest and also very irritating to read. As far as describing people breaking the law, he isn’t going to get any comeback from Rick or Richard, so it’s instructive to see who breaks the law most in this book. And yes … it’s Richard. Followed by Rick. Rick gets most of the sexual action. Nothing he alleges about Levon isn’t in Levon’s own book, and he steers well clear of allegations about Garth or Robbie. He briefly mentions that Robbie has a ‘joint in his mouth’ in 1967 but that’s as tough as it gets. Howard Alk (deceased of course) gets it far worse. He describes Dylan’s filthy fingernails in the well-known 1966 film of Dylan and Lennon, but that’s describing a video rather than having an original insight. If he’d wanted the sensationalist dirt on The Band, he could have found more damning stuff in Cathy Smith’s published groupie tales.

The book isn’t alone in having a fictional protagonist mixing with real people. The whole Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser works on the same premise, as the fictional Harry Flashman meets most of the important historical figures of the 19th century. It’s quite common to get politicians or dead historical characters fictionalized. Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man does the deed on Custer (who deserves it) for example. Nineteenth century characters, particularly Wild West ones, have frequently appeared in fiction. Some of Richard Condon’s novels quite obviously have the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson in his sights, but under new names. It’s much rarer to fictionalize living people, but the recent TV drama A Very Social Secretary in the UK dishes the dirt on David Blunkett and Tony Blair to hilarious effect.

This novel(la) takes off fast and hard, with the line from Tears of Rage coming from his loudspeaker well-placed.

I liked Robbie’s first appearance, and the fact he told the narrator, Greg, to ‘fuck off.’ Maybe Greg thought The guy was cold. But the narrator is not a pleasant character. There’s a lot of humour in there, where Greg, a wanker if ever there was one, says of Robbie, I tried to give him some production tips, a little advice … then is surprised to get cold-shouldered. In contrast to some readers who commented on the Band Guestbook, I reckon Robbie comes out of it pretty well. His guitar playing is praised extravagantly, and he’s only an arsehole to the narrator. We definitely sympathize with Robbie here. I found several of Greg’s reactions to known situations amusing and well placed.

The fictionalized Band members come out pretty much as you’d expect. The narrator (and also the author) regards Richard and Rick with the most affection. Levon is a “character”, Garth is remote but a genius and Robbie’s the leader, the toughest emotionally and ultimately, the winner. Years of reading the Band Guestbook indicates that this is the generally-held view. I’ve corresponded with a number of people who worked with The Band over the years, and again and again I’ve seen the comment I liked Richard and Rick the best.

Somewhat unfair is grabbing quotes from Levon’s book, and putting them in Levon’s mouth in 1967. Levon described the rain at Watkin’s Glen as like a cow pissing on a flat rock and here it gets put in his mouth in 1967. Also They booed us everywhere we went is Robbie’s line, given to Levon here, not that Levon was there for most of the 65/66 tour. And over the years, I guess Robbie borrowed more of Levon’s lines than vice versa. I’d hazard a guess that his assessment that Levon didn’t appreciate Dylan’s material in 1965 had some truth in it, but actually Levon has always spoken well of Dylan, as well as making Don’t Ya Tell Henry a favourite live number right up to the most recent Midnight Rambles.

I find it artificial when bits of Band biography get shoehorned into the story, as when Greg is at his mother’s funeral.

The coffin went through the thick purple drapes toward what I imagined were the flames, but Garth Hudson, who had started out in music playing the organ in his uncle’s funeral parlor, told me much later that it really went to a kind of storage area …

In a similar vein, though let’s not dwell on veins in a book with so much shooting up, Greg remembers that Robbie thought Lou Reed was a crock. Another gem garnered from old interviews, and the original description of Robbie reacting to The Velvet Underground live is funnier.

It’s not a book about Music From Big Pink, nor is it a book about The Band. They’re merely peripheral references in a competently-written druggie book about a dealer who ends up in prison. As a novella, it’s fair enough, though Hubert Selby Jnr hasn’t got any competition from Niven. I found it always readable, often funny, sometimes very pointed. He portrays Greg well via Greg’s first person narrative, and unlikeable as Greg can be, you do feel a degree of sympathy for a richly drawn character.

BUT … as part of a series that supposedly explores classic albums it’s a … in his words … crock. There isn’t a single new insight into the album, not a single new fact, not even any interesting critical views of the music. There isn’t any thorough assessment or description of tracks or of the creative process. While I Shall Be Released, Tears of Rage, The Weight and We Can Talk get mentions, and he quotes the lyrics of In A Station, I don’t remember him even mentioning This Wheel’s On Fire, To Kingdom Come, Caledonia Mission, Long Black Veil or Lonesome Suzie. So on the question of quoting lyrics without permission, he stays closer to Richard Manuel’s work. Hmm, the safer option again. What annoys me most is that the book is an exploitative take on the corpse of Richard Manuel, who can’t hit back.

Factually, actually …

It’s Hi-Heel Sneakers, not High Heel Sneakers

Was Rollin’ Rock beer popular in 1967? It was in 1997, but I don’t know.

There's a Riot Goin' On, on Amazon.com

Another of the four books that we'll have stock of by the end of next month is Miles Marshall Lewis's, about Sly Stone. If you're interested in pre-ordering the book on Amazon, you can do so here.

I can also highly recommend Miles's first book (if you haven't already read it), published by Akashic in 2004. It's a charming, smart, and fascinating memoir called Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don't Have Bruises, and you can buy it here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Doolittle on Amazon.com

The next four books in the series are just about to go to the printers, and have also just appeared (in very basic form) on Amazon. So if you're interested in pre-ordering Ben Sisario's Pixies book, you can do so here.

On an unrelated note, if you're in the mood for an ever-so-slightly raunchy video, you can stream "Ramblin' Man" by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Light Footwork

It's taken me a few weeks to get around to listening to the Light Footwork's album One State Two State, and it's pretty damn good.

A couple of things: you can download their song "Coastlines are Landmines" here - it'll give you a good idea of the album as a whole. And secondly, I'm amazed that they haven't heard from the good folks at Dr. Seuss Enterprises yet. If that day ever comes, the album's very cool artwork will get hacked down faster than a truffula tree.

Big Pink in OMM

There's a mini-review of John Niven's book in the UK's Observer Music Monthly:

Billed as 'faction', this fine novella tells the story of the making of the Band's classic album Music from Big Pink through the eyes of an invented character, aspirant musician Greg Keltner. Dylan et al take cameos. As evocative as it is gripping.

I've posted a couple of these already, but what the heck - here's another extract. You really should read this book.


It took us about an hour to drive the fifteen minutes back to Woodstock - the road, night, and cars like a movie being shown on the windshield - and by the time we got to her place I was just beaming, totally content. Skye poured brandies and laid me down on the couch.
Warren's folks had an incredible hi-fi, real top-of-the-line shit, and I watched as she threaded a reel through the tape machine. "You've got to hear this," she said.
She laid down on the floor, there was silence, then tape hiss, then all at once there was piano, organ, drums, guitar, bass; then Rick's voice, gentle, restrained.

"Bessie was more than just a friend of mine.
We shared the good times and the bad..."

A stately, graceful rhythm uncoiled, with Garth's organ rippling through, bursting out to fill spaces and then falling away into the shadows of the track when the vocals came in. The chorus welled up and I realized the song was about the old blues singer Bessie Smith. It sounded to me like nothing on earth and, at the same time, like it'd been recorded a hundred years ago and dug up out of the ground. The mix was kind of muddy and rough and the vocals a little swamped, but you could catch the odd chunk of lyric and when I heard Rick sing "The best thing I ever had," I shut my eyes and felt my skin scrunching and puckering up in all the places it did when music was this good.
There was this perfect chord rundown and it was finished, the last notes on the woody piano and organ hanging in the air, fading like glory. We both laid there breathing. After a moment I said, "How could I not have heard that song before?"
"They only just did it."
"No, I mean the original version."
"What original version?"
"I mean, who wrote it?"
"Rick and Robbie," she laughed.
It took about thirty seconds for this to sink in.
"You are fuckin' kidding me," I whispered, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. But she didn't hear me. She was already rewinding the tape, getting ready to play it again.

It blew my mind apart that these guys we knew - guys who lived down the road from us, who were much the same age as us, who were really a bunch of backing musicians - were capable of writing songs like that. I mean Dylan, you figure that's just a different order of human, someone who falls from the fuckin' stars once every thirty years. But the guys in The Hawks...eighteen months before they moved to Woodstock they'd been playing the same kind of shitholes around Toronto that me and my friends had played in, cranking out "High Heel Sneakers" and "Walkin' the Dog" for drunken assholes on a Saturday night.
I'd heard bits and pieces of the music they'd been making with Dylan down in their basement all that summer. Up by the Revox next to Garth's organ there were stacks of tapes - mostly cover versions, or twelve-bar jams with Dylan rambling over them, takes on songs by people like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Elmore James, all of them really badly recorded with a couple of shitty mikes. A lot of what I'd heard sounded like real stoner stuff. Like comedy music. The kind of shit guys with guitars do when they're getting wrecked and giggly. So, that winter, when we finally started to hear some of their own songs, it was kind of a shock. It was as if you had this friend who said they were writing a book and you go, "Yeah, sure you are buddy," and then they turn up with the great American fuckin' novel under their arm. It was like that.

I got home around dawn, still pretty mangled from the acid, to find Alex sitting on the sofa drinking neat whiskey and smoking a big jay.
"Hey man," I slurred, struggling out of my big winter coat.
"Uh, your dad called."
Huh? "My fuckin' dad called? Are you drunk, man?"
"It's not cool, Greg."
I saw now he was looking right at me.
That's how you get dramatic news. That's how you hear the big stuff. Not in some emergency room, or sitting down face-to-face with someone all serious. It's when you're pulling off a shoe, changing channels and lighting a cigarette, or reaching for a can of spaghetti in the kitchen cupboard. The phone rings, or someone comes through the door looking at you funny, and that's when you get told. So I'll always remember pulling my coat off that night, the night Skye spiked me, the night I really heard The Band - as opposed to The Hawks - for the first time. It was a real cold, blue December night, with the new snow all pearly outside and the stars way up in the sky and now my mother was dead.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Neutral Milk Hotel; Pirates

Flagpole Magazine in Athens, GA has a good piece about Kim Cooper's NMH book.

Meanwhile, if you're in the mood for some utterly inconsequential and delightful pirate-based reading, do check out the two "Pirates!" adventures by Gideon Defoe. The one about the whale contains this exchange:

"So, Ahab," said the Pirate Captain, trying to get the conversation going. "Any luck finding that whale?"

Ahab's stony face seemed to set even harder.

"No, Pirate Captain. The beast has continued to evade me these past few days. Just last night I thought I'd finally cornered him, but it turned out to be a big bit of kelp."

"I'm sure it's an easy mistake to make," said the Pirate Captain sympathetically. "It sounds a lot like the time I got into all that confusion with a mermaid."

"A mermaid?" repeated Ahab, actually raising an eyebrow, though the rest of his face remained as impassive as ever.

"Oh yes. I went out with this charming mermaid for...ooh, how long would you say it was, Number Two?"

"About three months, Captain," said the pirate with a scarf, looking a little pained.

"Yes, about three months. It took that long for the lads to convince me that it wasn't really a mermaid at all. It was just a regular fish."

"Surely," said Ahab, "it is an easy enough distinction to make?"

"You would have thought that," agreed the Captain, "but what you have to appreciate is that the top half of that fish was just really very attractive. Normally I prefer the top halves of ladies to have arms and hair and all that, but this girl - or marlin, as I later came to realise - really carried it off. And she was a fantastic kisser."

The Times (of London)

Only just spotted this, from last Saturday's edition of the Times.

Blog of the week, no less!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

National Book Critics Circle finalists

This type of thing doesn't happen very often here at Continuum, so forgive my excitement. But it's *awesome* to have Jonathan Coe's Like a Fiery Elephant as a finalist in the Biography category for these awards. If you haven't read it yet (and, looking at our hardcover sales figures, none of you have) then wait a few more weeks for the paperback: it has one of the best cover designs I've ever seen.

Here's the whole list of finalists. Memoir would seem to be the Group of Death, in footballing terminology. And I'm rooting for Simon Armitage in Poetry: he's a great, great writer.

Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
The March by EL Doctorow
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Small Island by Andrea Levy

General Nonfiction
Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich
The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk
Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy
Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees by Caroline Moorehead
Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War by Anthony Shadid

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
Them by Francine du Plessix Gray
Fat Girl by Judith Moore
Two Lives by Vikram Seth

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
Lee Miller: A Life by Carolyn Burke
Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson by Jonathan Coe

Still Looking: Essays on American Art by John Updike
Unnatural Wonders by Arthur C. Danto
Gather at the River: Notes From the Post-Millennial South by Hal Crowther
The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin by William Logan
What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles by Eliot Weinberger

The Incentive of the Maggot by Ron Slate
Crush by Richard Siken
The Shout by Simon Armitage
Bent to Earth by Manuel Blas de Luna
Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two Reviews by Rev. Keith A. Gordon

Which would you like to read first? There's one of the Springsteen book here, or one of the MC5 book here.

Apologies if yesterday's post caused a few heart tremors. We'll be letting people know via email before announcing anything on here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Enthusiast

If you're looking for some new reading material that's smart, heartwarming, funny, inspired, and downright collectible, may I humbly recommend The Enthusiast? The phrase "a British McSweeneys" doesn't do it justice - but if that concept whets or piques any part of your anatomy, you might want to take a look.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Drastic Plastic Ramones review

A good review in the current issue of Drastic Plastic Press, of Nick Rombes' book about the first Ramones record:

Continuum’s 33 1/3 series analyzes individual canonical rock ‘n’ roll albums. It is to their credit that Ramones/Ramones has made it into their “hall of fame” of sorts. Detroit’s Nicholas Rombes stage dives into the sociocultural climate that gave birth to the Ramones' debut record. This is not a VH1 style tell-all book chronicling the Ramones’ rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster ride and endless band in-fighting. Rombes’s
concern here are the social factors that allowed for a phenomenon like the Ramones to happen. This is as deep as a discussion of bubble gum pop and punk rock can get,
but don’t let that scare you off, like the album it discusses the book is a short, sweet, and intense ride.

Rombes sees the Ramones eponymous first release as a pivotal album calling it either “the last great modern record or the first great postmodern one.” The Ramones' simultaneous genius and naiveté confound Rombes (as they do anyone who actually pauses to think about the band). Rombes points to a rejection of the mandated “niceness” of the 70s, the suburban teen’s fascination with the city, the development of camp culture, B-movies and comic books and groundbreaking films like Taxi Driver (remember Deniro’s Mohawk?) as contributing to a culture ready to give birth to and accept a band like the Ramones.

Rombes spends many pages mythologizing the rock critics of the time who found a fresh, more self-aware voice in punk rock criticism. Many of these reviewers were in bands themselves and their reviews were as much about their experience as the band’s music. Rombes digs up a 1976 review of the Ramones from Richard Hell. Hell writes that the “music the Ramones create from these feelings [of frustration] is incredibly exciting. It gives you the same sort of feeling you might derive from savagely kicking in your smoothly running TV set and then finding real thousand dollar bills inside.”

Rombes spends some time boiling down theories about what punk is, how it relates to
politics, fascism, and “anarchy;” when punk started, who was the first punk band etc. Many of us have had these often frustrating, circular discussions with friends ad nauseam, but here Rombes does a concise job of laying out a solid thesis (complete with a chart), detailing the various early waves of punk (or new wave, as the terms are proved interchangeable) and approaching these topics in a thoughtful but fun way.

There is a lot going on here for a book that is really supposed to be about the first release from the Ramones. Punk rock and our experience with it is often a very personal and passionate thing for the misfits attracted to it. Some of what Rombes says here I disagree with, but that is part of the fun; this book got me thinking about this culture in ways I never had before.

--Craig Campbell

Teaching Zep

Dr. Josh Gunn, in the Department of Communications at the University of Texas, Austin, is currently teaching a fascinating course on Rhetoric and Religion. And one of the required texts for his lucky students is Erik Davis' book on Zeppelin IV. For those of you who want the full details of the course, here they are:

CMS 367: Rhetoric and Religion
Paranormalism and Theological Form
MWF 11:00-12:00, CMA A3.124
Dr. Josh Gunn
Phone: 471-3933 Office Address: CMA A7.126
Office Hours: M: 10-11; F: 2-3. Email: slewfoot@mail.utexas.edu

Course Texts: Erik Davis, Led Zeppelin IV, Bob Ellis, Lucifer Ascending, Erich Goode,
Paranormal Beliefs: A Sociological Introduction; Whitley Strieber, Communion: A True Story;
Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary
Americas; John Edward, Crossing Over ; AND a reading packet available at the “Serve-UCenter”
at Highland and Stanford (just south of the south gate). If you do not own a bible, a
copy of Revelations titled The Apocalypse would be helpful.


Thanks to St. Murse for the tip-off, and to Josh for the syllabus details.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

John Perry, Freddie Stevenson

Got an email yesterday from John Perry - guitar legend and author of our Hendrix book. He'll be in NYC at the end of this month, playing a show at the Lakeside Lounge, as part of Freddie Stevenson's band.

If you're looking for something new to listen to, take a moment to head over to Mr. Stevenson's website. There are three songs to download on there. Two of them ("Sunday Morning Girl" and "Woe to You My Princess") are sharp little folksongs, and the third ("If You Don't Kiss Me") is a forthcoming single in the UK, and has Radio 2 Playlist stamped all over it - it's bright, breezy, confident pop. Mr. Stevenson's enunciation is something to behold, too: no lyric sheets required here!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Forever Changes

There's an interview on Pitchfork today with Alasdair MacLean of the Clientele. I've only heard snippets of their recent album, but the first two I love to bits. Anyhow, always nice to see a random 33 1/3 series mention in a chat like this - even if it does contain the phrase 'grad student view':

Pitchfork: How long had you been doing the ad copy writing? That's quite different from lyric writing.

Alasdair: For about four years. I used to do books before that. I worked for a book publisher, and actually attempted to turn down Harry Potter. The first Harry Potter title came in, and we had an editorial meeting about it, and I said, "This is just absolute rubbish. There are so many better children's books that aren't being published." And I was overruled. So, they published the book, and all my bridges are burned. I was a bit harsh on it at first. I wanted them to do a biography on Arthur Lee, and everyone said, "Who's Arthur Lee?" So I was never happy in that job.

Pitchfork: Have you read the 33 1/3 Series' book on Forever Changes?

Alasdair: It's pretty interesting actually, but it's kind of a grad student view. They talk about the American tradition of prophecy, and how it leads into Arthur Lee's heroes, and kind of the disjointedness of the music, and they link it together with quotes from Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and people like that, Walt Whitman. So it's pretty interesting.

You can read the whole interview here. And if you're interested in the book itself, I'm sure that Amazon can help you out.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

Spring Sampler Giveaway!

I'm intrigued as to why it took this guy 13 years to progress from urinating to using a hammer.

Do you want one of our Spring Sampler books? They're blue, and they contain excerpts from the upcoming books about The Stone Roses, There's a Riot Goin' On, Paul's Boutique, Court & Spark, Doolittle, and Daydream Nation. The first ten people to email me (david at continuum-books.com) with their mailing address will get one of these. And the first three people will also receive one of our highly sought-after Bob Dylan Encyclopedia samplers, too.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Nick Rombes

Nick Rombes, author of the Ramones book in our series, puts together an excellent blog that goes by the name of Digital Poetics. Definitely worth following, if you have even a flicker of interest in film and film theory.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

John Niven on Beatrice

You can read a short piece here by John Niven about his Big Pink book, on the excellent Beatrice site.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Big Pink reviewed in Scotland

A very happy new year to everybody. I'm finally back from my travels, with a charming and quirky wedding venue found and confirmed, just outside of Hay-on-Wye (legendary "Town of Books"), on the Welsh border. Anyhow...

Here's an interesting review of John Niven's book, from the Dec 18th issue of Scotland on Sunday (Scotland's main Sunday newspaper, for those who don't know).

PUBLISHER Continuum has produced a startling series of monographs on some of the greatest rock albums; but in this attempt to get to the heart of Music From Big Pink by The Band, Niven opts for novella rather than any conventional discussion of the work. Wannabe musician and successful drug-dealer Greg meets - or meets people who know - Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, William Burroughs and Ringo Starr, as well as The Band. The writing is punchy, but the frequency of purple passages as he shoots up and gets down to significant songs is wearing. There is a lovely coming of age story here, wrapped around the album in an oddly parasitic manner.

I'm not sure that it's a coming of age story at all - it's never struck me in that way. And is there really too much filth in the book? I must have read it ten times now, and it's never failed to move me.