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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Order, Temptation

Just to keep the YouTube theme going throughout the weekend, here's some amazing footage of New Order playing a half-hour live set for Radio One back in 1984. (Check out the 275-285 logo on the posters on the walls: I can hear Peter Powell's voice, just by looking at those damn things.)

Once you get past the ill-advised shorts (admittedly, this requires a Herculean effort), what we have here is mesmerising - not just this version of "Temptation" but the whole set they played that day. (All on YouTube, posted by the same person, who should be richly rewarded for saving this stuff.) "Age of Consent" and "Blue Monday" in particular are just as breathtaking as this - the latter comes magnificently close to falling apart on several occasions. Barney/Bernard Sumner/Albrecht is clearly in a foul mood, which only makes the whole thing more compelling.

Rather tenuous 33 1/3 content: somebody mentioned in the credits at the end was one of the first five people ever approached to write a book for the series.

Friday, March 30, 2007

From my rss reader to yours...

I just wanted to share this link for Mr. Dante Fontana's Visual Guidance, LTD. for your weekend YouTube viewing pleasure. I ran across this a few weeks ago on WFMU's blog and put it in my feed reader and have since been delighted to find 3-5 music videos waiting for me every night when I get home. The editors have impeccable taste: The Fall, Tiny Tim, Sonic Youth, Gerry Mulligan, Sergio Mendes, Tom Waits, The Exploited, Roscoe Holcolmb, The Ramones, Missy Elliot, Harry Partch... the list goes on. Plenty of things worth looking at here, but not many you would think to search for.

To get you started, here's a nice Ike & Tina Turner medley. Enjoy the weekend...
-John Mark

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation

In the next few weeks, we'll be releasing a few new books in the series, including those on albums by Captain Beefheart, Steely Dan, the Minutemen, and A Tribe Called Quest. First up, though, is Matthew Stearns' book on Daydream Nation. Here's an extract. (Not sure that footnotes and blog entries mix too well, so this extract is missing a couple of those.)


Sonic Youth's manipulated-guitar fetishism, and by extension their avid affection for the modification of things generally, reaches its ultimate expression in the form of the lovingly destroyed (and tragically pilfered) Drifter. Ah, The Drifter. Now, this is the kind of guitar your mother warned you about. The mangiest, nastiest, rattiest piece of detuned refuse ever allowed out of the house after dark. Legendary for its Rasputin-like refusal to die, The Drifter was the kind of guitar-catastrophe that could make, one imagines, small or medium-sized children or the infirm recoil in horror at the sight of it; only to run for their lives once the magnificent, ungodly "wooooowruwrooooowruwrooooow" cry issued forth from its miserable bowels. For nearly twenty years, The Drifter stood faithfully at the ready, a beaten-down-but-not-out veteran of historic, epic skirmishes that took place at the far edges of the Sonic Youth repertoire. (On Daydream Nation, the guitar is featured most prominently on "Eric's Trip.") A catalogue of the accumulated damage inflicted on this animal over the years reads like an unfortunate medical examiner's report from some abandoned rock'n'roll morgue-outpost:

* All frets removed
* Strung up with four bass strings
* Two E tuners removed
* Two drumsticks wedged under strings
* Single coil pickups taped into body
* All knobs duct taped over
* Obvious fractures

In terms of Sonic Youth's renegade proclivity for the physical manipulation of objects (musical or otherwise) in the service of discovering new forms of sound, the band, after an extended and frustrated history with an ever-changing cast of drummers, met with a decidedly appropriate, complementary accomplice in Steve Shelley. Steve, who was raised in Michigan on a steady diet of pure-grade Midwest underground rock and hardcore, joined the band following the release of Bad Moon Rising in 1985. The circumstances surrounding his hiring will go down as the most fortuitous apartment sublet story in the history of apartment sublet stories: "I was in this band called the Crucifucks in the Midwest," recalls Steve. "Sonic Youth was aware of my band and had a demo cassette we had made that they used to play before they went on as pre-show music. My band was always falling apart and coming back together again. But at one point we played a show at CBGB's, a punk matinee show. Thurston and Lee came to the show and I met them, and we stayed in touch afterwards. Back in Michigan, the Crucifucks broke up and I wound up subletting Kim and Thurston's apartment while they were on tour with Bob Bert in the UK. This was just before Bad Moon Rising was released. Along the way, Bob decided to leave the band. Kim and Thurston came home and basically I was there with my bags packed - I'd found another sublet in the city. I was going to try and stay in New York for a while but I didn't know what I was going to do. So, basically, they had a drummer in their apartment. And they hired me for the band, right then and there. I didn't audition or anything."

I stare at him half agog, half giddy, as if to ask: Are you fucking kidding me?

He's unabashedly still delighted, even after being a permanent fixture in the band for decades, when he responds: "They were my favorite band...Yeah, it was a dream job."

They were my favorite band. I'm so touched by his sincerity and lack of artifice that I come dangerously close to standing up and throwing my arms around him at this point. Which would have been out of line, but I just know he would have handled it with grace and good humor. I mean, this guy is unshakably, almost infuriatingly decent. Which is not to say that he won't knock your brains loose with a pair of drumsticks.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lost City Radio, by Daniel Alarcon

A book recommendation prompted by a tip from Kate Schatz, the author of our upcoming PJ Harvey's Rid of Me: A Story.

Lost City Radio is a first novel by Daniel Alarcon. It's a remarkably evocative portrait of a war-ravaged South American country, in which husbands/sons/boyfriends/lovers routinely disappear, in which very few people can even remember how - or even why - the war began in the first place, and in which one radio show, hosted by the honey-voiced Norma, grips the nation every week as it takes calls from listeners who are hoping to be reunited with friends or family members who vanished months or years ago.

This is a very, very good novel.

You can buy the book on Amazon here, and here's a short extract from the start of Chapter Ten.


For Norma, the war began fourteen years earlier, the day she was sent to cover a fire in Tamoe. She was just a copy editor at the radio station then, and had never been on the air, her voice an undiscovered treasure. She and Rey had been married for more than two years, but she still thought of herself as a newlywed. He was due to return from the jungle that afternoon. It was October, nearing the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the war, though no one kept time that way in those days.

Norma arrived on the scene to find the firemen watching as the house burned. A few men with guns and masks stood in front of the fire. A polite crowd had gathered around the house, arms crossed, blinking away the acrid smoke. Norma could still make out the word TRAITOR painted in black on the burning wall. The terrorists didn't move or make threats - they didn't have to. The firemen were volunteers. They wouldn't take a bullet for a fire. It was late afternoon at the edge of the city, and soon it would be dark. There were no streetlights in this part of the district. Norma's eyes stung. The firemen had given up. One of them sat on his hard plastic helmet, smoking a cigarette. "Are you going to do anything?" Norma asked.

The man shook his head. His face was dotted with whitish stubble. "Are you?"

"I'm just a reporter."

"So report. Why don't you start with this: there's a man inside. He's tied to a wooden chair."

The fireman blew smoke from his nose in dragon bursts.

And for the duration of the war, more than the firefights in the Old Plaza, more than the barricaded streets of The Cantonment or even the apocalyptic Battle of Tramoe - this is what Norma remembered: this man inside, this stranger, tied to a chair. For the rest of that long night and into the early morning, as the news came from a dozen remote points in the city, news of an offensive, news of an attack, as the first of the Great Blackouts spread across the capital - Norma took it all in with the drugged indifference of a sleepwalker. Cruelty was something she couldn't process that day. On another day, perhaps, she might have done better. She looked the fireman in the eye, hoping to find a hint of untruth, but there was none. The people watched the flames dispassionately. The fire crackled, the house fell in on itself, and Norma listened for him. Surely, he was dead already. Surely his lungs were full of smoke and his heart still. For Norma, there was only a light-headed feeling, like being hollowed out. She felt incapable of writing anything down, of asking a single question. At the edge of the crowd, a girl of thirteen or fourteen sucked on a lollipop. Her mother rang the tiny bell on her juice cart, and it clinked brightly.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March Madness!

So, these are the 21 books we'll be signing up for publication during 2008 and 2009. (And doubtless, knowing the history of the series, one or two of these will not appear until 2010...)

In no particular order:

Funkadelic: Maggot Brain - by Matt Rogers
Slayer: Reign in Blood - DX Ferris
Tori Amos: Boys for Pele - Elizabeth Merrick
Fleetwood Mac: Tusk - Rob Trucks
Nas: Illmatic - Matthew Gasteier
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy & the Lash - Jeffery Roesgen
Wire: Pink Flag - Wilson Neate
Big Star: Radio City - Bruce Eaton
Pavement: Wowee Zowee - Bryan Charles
Madness: One Step Beyond - Terry Edwards
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Facing Future - Dan Kois
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions... - Christopher R. Weingarten
Van Dyke Parks: Song Cycle - Richard Henderson
Weezer: Pinkerton - Jessica Suarez
Black Sabbath: Master of Reality - John Darnielle
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - S.H. Fernando, Jr.
Afghan Whigs: Gentlemen - Bob Gendron
Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin - Bob Proehl
Elliott Smith: XO - Matthew LeMay
Outkast: Aquemini - Nick Weidenfeld and Michael Schmelling
The Flaming Lips: Zaireeka - Mark Richardson

A few notes:

* If we didn't pick many (or any!) of your favourites, I'm sorry.
* I'm hoping to announce, over the coming weeks or months, one or two more additions to the series, by people who we've approached separately from this "open call" process.
* The choice of the Afghan Whigs book had nothing to do with all the comments left by Whigs fans on a previous post, nor with Mr. Gendron's article about the series in last weekend's Chicago Tribune!
* Let's hope we can do this all over again, in the second half of next year.

I'm really looking forward to reading every single one of these books - we'll do our very best to make them as good as we possibly can.

And finally, thanks once again to everybody who pitched: it was quite an education!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Just a quick one:

If you sent in a proposal and have not yet heard from me, then please email the pitches33 yahoo account as soon as you can. As far as I can tell, I've responded to everybody now. (Not counting follow-up emails from some of you, which I'll get around to when I can, seriously!)

We should be announcing, in the next couple of days, the proposals that we'll be signing up. Again, thank you for your patience.

Monday, March 19, 2007

In the Trib

There was a piece on the series in the Arts section of yesterday's Chicago Tribune - an overview of the whole project, followed by summaries of ten of the books. Here's the article:

Small wonders
Continuum's book series celebrates classic albums

By Bob Gendron
Special to the Tribune
March 18, 2007

Everybody has favorite records. To this degree, we're all proud defenders of sonic delights no matter how dated, flawed or unpopular they seem to others. When discussion turns to such matters, too much information is never enough, particularly when outsider opinions vehemently concur -- or disagree -- with our own.

Which is why Continuum's 33 1/3 book series is among the best music-themed literature going. Personal, obsessive and clever, the paperbacks celebrate older, sales-proven classics as well as equally influential albeit less commercially successful works.

Every 33 1/3 is devoted to a single album and written by a different author, whose approaches are as varied as the artists they explore.

Uniform consistency is maintained via layouts and logistics. All of the pocket size books feature elegant block patterns and color schemes that correspond to the cover art of the album; like vinyl LPs, the spines feature a chronological number.

The books are relatively short (100 to 170 pages) and inexpensive ($9.95-$10.95). And because the topics have yet to hit a sour note, they beg to be collected.

Continuum has released approximately 40 titles since 2003. Additional books are scheduled before the year's end, including takes on Steely Dan's "Aja" and Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation," both due this spring. While not every volume in the series rates a five-star review, the majority are impossible to put down and inspire extensive listening.

10 Exemplary entries, each distinguished by individual bents and fresh ideas:

"Harvest," by Sam Inglis (2003)

A study that's as much about Neil Young's 1972 LP as it is about the notion of whether records embraced by casual listeners are necessarily "classic" or representative of their makers. Journeying through Young's past and outlining Nashville's country traditions, Sam Inglis outlines the album's genesis and formation while considering whether "Harvest" is as mainstream as it appears. The overarching themes of finesse, product and art are pertinent to a society fixated on TV shows such as "American Idol."

"The Velvet Underground and Nico," by Joe Harvard (2004)

"Today, the kind of lives deemed permissible for art to reflect upon seem more and more to resemble those that the Velvets explored in their songs," writes Joe Harvard, assessing the milieus surrounding the Velvet Underground's debut, virtually ignored upon release in 1967 and now considered a watershed statement. A Boston producer, Harvard brings a musician's perspective to evaluating song structures, album sonics and band chemistry, while balanced views on Nico and Andy Warhol's roles reinforce the record's cultural impact.

"Live at the Apollo," by Douglas Wolk (2004)

Divided into short vignettes, Douglas Wolk's true-fiction account of the night that James Brown recorded his seminal concert album flows with the breathless pace of an episode of "24." While Wolk wasn't present at the show, his urgent language, meticulous character sketches and contextual devices -- backgrounders, flashbacks and biographies -- convey what likely went down in Harlem in late October 1962. Minor falsehoods and subtle discrepancies are uncovered via scrutiny of the set list and recording; for extra oomph, Cold War drama unfolds as a subplot. Riveting.

"Led Zeppelin IV," by Erik Davis (2005)

Rather than recycle tales that have been told umpteen times, Erik Davis sheds fascinating light on one of rock's superlative albums by probing the symbols, images, roots and legends that surround it. In addition to the band members, Aleister Crowley and J.R.R. Tolkien hover as primary figures. Ultimately, Davis lets readers form their own conclusions based on the evidence.

"Ramones," by Nicholas Rombes (2005)

By inspecting the Ramones' debut amid its mid-'70s landscape, English professor Nicholas Rombes examines how the New York quartet preserved an underground ethos in a movement whose values were fuzzy and diluted. Equally fascinating is a dissection of punk that encompasses its contradictions, associations, attitudes, iconography and performance. After establishing basic parameters, Rombes dives into the music and asserts that the band's sounds are a defense against definitive interpretation -- the very notion of punk.

"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," by Kim Cooper (2006)

Exhaustively researched and warmly narrated, Kim Cooper's Cinderella story of the 1997 Neutral Milk Hotel album that has sold upward of 150,000 copies primarily through word of mouth and caused its primary creator to withdraw from the public-eye functions as an indie-rock doctrine. Tracing the evolution of the band's main participants back to their childhoods and following their paths through the culmination of their final tour, she debunks myths and humanizes developments along the way.

"Doolittle," by Ben Sisario (2006)

Ben Sisario tears into the Pixies' "Doolittle" with an enviable combination of cunning prose, exacting detail and theoretical conviction. His colorful descriptions serve as analytical contexts for the narrative as well as accessible entry points into briefs about Surrealism, Dadaism, Christianity and apocalyptic paranoia - themes echoed by the record. Stemming from a one-on-one road trip with Pixies icon Frank Black, various interviews, song-by-song appraisals and article research, the watertight approach provides insight into just where Black's mind was.

"Paul's Boutique," by Dan LeRoy (2006)

Drawing upon first hand interviews with Beastie Boys members and producers, Dan LeRoy mines the 1989 album that because of sample-clearance laws could not be legally released today. In-depth accounts of the trio's controversial split with Def Jam Recordings, juvenile antics and their relationship with Capitol Records lead up to a summary of why the sophomore effort initially bombed.

"Bee Thousand," by Marc Woodworth (2006)

Akin to Guided By Voices themselves, Marc Woodworth's homage to the band's 1994 breakthrough is fun, wordy, spirited and peculiar. Lengthy discussions with group leader Bob Pollard unscramble the patchwork songwriting and recording processes, and multifaceted interpretations of lyrics make for convincing notions about meanings. While Woodworth might not change detractors' minds regarding the band's value, his abstract thinking and quirky organization justify the lo-fi rockers' enduring appeal and polarizing aesthetic.

"69 Love Songs," by LD Beghtol (2006)

Assembled by one of the album's collaborators, this field guide to Magnetic Fields' 1999 triple-disc opus is the most unconventionally designed 33 1/3 Evoking the scholarly liner notes that accompany Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music" box, LD Beghtol's lexicons, pictures, timelines, discographies, question-and-answer sessions and puzzles exemplify "fanatical" and bestow Stephin Merritt's epic a permanent place on the cult bookshelf.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fleshtones, the

One of the non-33 1/3 music books we'll be publishing in 2007 is Sweat by Joe Bonomo - an absolutely wonderful 400 page biography of the Fleshtones. (Who are playing at Magnetic Field in Brooklyn next weekend, a show I'm looking forward to very much.)

Sweat is an affectionate, gritty, and improbably moving, chronicle of three decades of near hits, near misses, drink, drugs, fallings in, fallings out, endless touring, misses, rebirths, and more misses.

In the words of Nick Tosches, "Joe Bonomo has written a fine book: a book not only about a band or times passed, but also about the rare virtue of endurance."

If you want an advance reading copy (not quite ready yet, but will be in a couple of weeks), be one of the first 5 people to email me (david at continuum-books dot com) and we'll put you on the list. (UPDATE: THESE ARE ALL GONE NOW - SORRY!)

Meanwhile, here's the book's prologue:

Prologue; Or, Maybe I’ll Go Back To School To Find Out Where I Went Wrong

He’s somewhere between a song and a shout. Pulling a mock-heroic face, throwing a profile at a half-filled club, graying bangs falling in his face as he moves to a mongrel Jerk, a Frug, moves like he probably moves at home in front of the stereo.

Columbus, Ohio, halfway across the god damn country. A long way from the East Village, anyway. A medallion swings around his neck like a knockoff of a psychedelic relic glinting beneath red and yellow stage lights. At the bar sit a dozen drinkers who aren’t really watching, engaged in hunched-over debauchery of their own, snorting powder, flirting skirts, slaying some hours in the din of yet another rock & roll band making noise from a stage.

My dreams are frayed, my dreams and shoes are more worn.

He’ll take the mike stand and spin it around like a geeky shaman. If you listen closely he might be channeling something, a prism for long-lost 1-4-5 and “Louie Louie” chord changes and beer glasses clinking. He’ll hold the mike stand out in front of him and hop over it, his back to the crowd, willing James Brown or Kid Thomas or Jackie Wilson from some poorly-lit basement party a hundred years ago in a white concrete garden suburb in Queens, New York. Wail, baby, wail.

An hour earlier he’d wrapped duct tape around that mike, marrying it to the stand with a far away look in his eyes, the twirling repetition of a nights-old gesture spinning a dreadful dullness that had to be avoided at all costs.

Later, he taped a handwritten sign on the wall near the front door: “MERCHANDISE FOR SALE.” He tried three times, the damn thing still hung crooked.

One more big night, another bitter dawn.

The song kicks into the chorus now and the singer’s eyes light up and he grins crooked, sweat rolling down his face, but now no one can really tell if he’s for real or if he’s some kind of joke.
Onstage he does something weird: he pulls out the pockets of his pants, scatters some lint on the stage, shrugs his shoulders at no one. He’s laughing.

My life’s been spent, too late to rearrange.
But I didn’t sell my soul.
At least I’ve nothing for it to show.

Now he grabs a beat-up harmonica from his front pocket, looks down to check his bearings, blows while the guitarist, ax flashing, puts one pointy boot on the stage monitor and wails. The drummer and the bass player keep an impossibly energetic beat going behind the ragged melody that soars over the heads of the club goers, the drinkers, the cute college-age waitresses, the distracted sound man, the hipsters. The music leaks out the occasionally-opening front door onto High Street and the swirl of a grimy late-night avenue and its grimy shadows and the many memories forgotten in those shadows. The song lifts to the rooftops.

But I gave my life away for a few good memories and a pocketful of change.


Friday, March 16, 2007

The Bridge Gang, RIP

Shed a tear tonight for the Bridge Gang, the London-based punk-pop trio who have, apparently, called it a day. Two stellar singles (one more to come, posthumously?), and that's it. Perhaps that's what a career should be. Imagine if the Smiths had released "This Charming Man," "Reel Around the Fountain," "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle", and "Jeane" - and then vanished into thin air. That's not a musical comparison, by the way - as the Bridge Gang so charmingly put it, "We are NOT influenced by Orange Juice, XTC or Wire. Morrissey did NOT change our lives. We did NOT form at artschool. We are BORED of indie disco. We LOVE making POP NOISE."

The four songs on the Bridge Gang's myspace page will, I hope, remain there for a while yet. Apparently the second one, "The Money Will Roll Right In" is a cover (anyone know the original?), but the others are their own compositions. If the vinyl of "Blue Sky Grey" isn't worth hundreds of pounds on eBay a few years from now, I'll be amazed. (And no, I don't own a copy - yet.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

League Table update

I like to post this sales chart every three or four months. As always, it's weighted towards those books that have been out for 3 years rather than 3 months.

A few interesting moves: the top 3 is getting very tight - the long, long reign of Pernice and Miller may not last until the summer. The Stones, Joy Division, and VU books are gaining fast on the Floyd. The Zeppelin and Bowie books both seem to have a new lease of life, while those on Neil Young, Love, and Dusty are - sadly - looking a little fragile comparatively. Bob Dylan will not be stopped. Neither, by the look of it, will MBV. And Menck's Byrds book is off to a flyer, as well.

A few I'm confused by: why is the DJ Shadow book so high? And why are the REM, Costello, James Brown, and Sly Stone books so low? And seriously, I know it's early days, but does Joni deserve to be at no.43? Finally, where the hell will the Celine Dion book end up on this chart?

1. The Smiths
2. The Kinks
3. Neutral Milk Hotel
4. Pink Floyd
5. Rolling Stones
6. Joy Division
7. Velvet Underground
8. The Beatles
9. Radiohead
10. Love
11. Neil Young
12. Beach Boys
13. DJ Shadow
14. Dusty Springfield
15. Led Zeppelin
16. David Bowie
17. Jimi Hendrix
18. The Replacements
19. Beastie Boys
20. Jeff Buckley
21. The Band
22. Bob Dylan
23. Pixies
24. Prince
25. The Ramones
26. My Bloody Valentine
27. R.E.M.
28. Bruce Springsteen
29. James Brown
30. Elvis Costello
31. The Byrds
32. Nirvana
33. Abba
34. Jethro Tull
35. The Who
36. Sly and the Family Stone
37. Stone Roses
38. The MC5
39. Guided By Voices
40. Magnetic Fields
41. Guns N Roses
42. Stevie Wonder
43. Joni Mitchell

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Letting Everyone Down

Some of you will know that I've started sending out emails of the "Sorry, we didn't pick yours" variety, and this will be going on for the next several days. It's a pretty dispiriting process, to be honest. And I wish it was possible to individualise these emails, to give at least a hint of why various proposals didn't make the cut - but there simply isn't the time. If you do have a burning question about why your proposal didn't make it, feel free to reply to the "pitches33" email account and I'll do my best to write back over the coming weeks/months...

It'll still be another ten days or so before I can start sending out more cheery emails to those fortunate folks who have made the cut, due to the various meetings, forms, signatures required in the office.

In health news, does anyone know how to get ears back to normal after flying with a heavy cold? It feels like I need to stick pins in my eardrums.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Matos vs. Wolk, plus Beasties comic

If you're in Seattle, don't miss the reading/event tomorrow evening (Thurs 8th) at 7pm. It's at the general store of Sonic Boom Records. Douglas Wolk will be reading from his Live at the Apollo book, and Michaelangelo Matos will be reading from his Sign 'O' the Times book.

In completely unrelated news, artist Jim Mahfood has released a limited edition comic book called "Ask for Janice", based largely around Dan LeRoy's 33 1/3 book on Paul's Boutique. Go here to get your hands on one of these rare items!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Get While The Getting's Good

If you've ever suspected that Scotland might produce more great pop music per capita than any other country in the world, and you're the type of person who likes nothing better than having your suspicions confirmed, then you might do well to get your hands on a copy of Get While The Getting's Good, a brand new compilation of (mostly) young Scottish bands, on the (yes, German-based) Aufgeladen Und Bereit label. (Scroll down just a bit to get to the album.)

There's hardly a duff song on the record, but particular highlights currently include:

* "Barcelona" by Jock Scot and Gareth Sager - a spoken word piece about drinking, and being ripped off while drinking.

* "Mail, Alice" by Wake the President - a chiming, jangling slice of C86 pop that trounces almost everything on the recent retrospective compilation of the same name, curated by Bob Stanley.

* "Hurry Monkey Hurry" by Tibi Lubin - one of those songs where, if it weren't for the title, you'd have no idea what was being sung in the chorus. Confident, sexy, and a little David Lynchy.

* "A Year in a Comprehensive" by Popup - a hilarious and biting tale of a posh girl spending a year at a not-so-posh school. And all done in just over 90 seconds!

* "Brand New Song" by the Pendulums - utterly beyond my descriptive powers, but wonderful.

* "Handstand" by Down the Tiny Steps - hypnotic and gorgeous, reminds me slightly of the Books' early stuff.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dylan Symposium

For those of you who are interested, there's a ton of information here about the upcoming Bob Dylan Symposium taking place in Minneapolis towards the end of this month. Speakers will include Greil Marcus, Christopher Ricks, Dave Marsh, the 33 1/3 series' own Daphne Brooks, with a keynote closing speech by Michael Gray, author (as you very well know by now) of our Bob Dylan Encyclopedia.

Michael has now finished writing his book about Blind Willie McTell, which Bloomsbury will be publishing in the UK in July - sneaking it under their Harry Potter radar, so to speak. And Michael's always entertaining blog is back from a McTell-linked hiatus, and can be checked out here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Progress report...

We are making progess with the proposals, you'll be glad to know. There are still decisions to be made, data to be entered, meetings to be negotiated. With luck, we'll be able to make announcements at the end of March - possibly a few days earlier. It's looking like it'll be around 20 books, from the 450ish proposals that we got.

In the meantime, here's a neat little review from School Library Journal of 33 1/3 Greatest Hits Volume 1:

Adult/High School—This volume includes selections from the ongoing series that pays tribute to pop-music albums. Some contributors discuss the production values and personnel on specific albums, such as Neil Young's Harvest. Others examine individual song structure and songwriting. Michaelangelo Matos's chapter on Prince's Sign 'O' The Times picks the album apart song by song. Still others describe personal experiences during which an album seemed to serve as the soundtrack. The authors are unabashed music geeks who take their obsessions seriously, and most chapters display journalistic rigor and flair. Musicians, journalists, professors, and others contribute their varied perspectives to the enrichment of the collection. Pop music is worthy of serious consideration, a welcomed revelation to many teens. There are plenty of books on rock music, but this anthology's focus on individual albums is unique. The music expands beyond the personality cults of rock superstars, and readers see all of the other people who contributed to the final masterpiece and the greater cultural and historical context from which it emerged. This is a collection of excerpts from longer works, and many pieces needed some rewriting to make them stand alone. The book includes this year's winning essay from the "Under 21" contest, a nice way of encouraging young writers to join the conversation.—Emma Coleman, Berkeley Public Library, CA

(The bit in bold is not true, by the way!)