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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Tonight at midnight is your last chance to submit a proposal for the next batch of 33 1/3s!

David has lined out all the specifics in this post, for anyone who may have missed it. And his original call for proposals, would you like to write a book?

I would advise you to read the comments fields of those two posts before asking a question. David has done a pretty good job of answering the obvious questions there. Of course, he is still on vacation, and I have a sick dog at home and might have to head out soon. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you do have a question, don't waste a lot of time waiting for an answer.

Best of luck and see you all in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best of 2008 redux

I should be somewhere between NYC and Arkansas right now, but my flight was canceled last night, I decided to come into work an extra day, and the "Word of the Day" on the little screen in the elevator this morning was "schmaltz" (swear to God!), which can only mean one thing...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best of 2008 / Events / Band Names

I was doing some year-end inventory and saw that Carl Wilson's book on Celine Dion has made a number of "Best of 2008" lists, including...
  • The Telegraph - "The year's most essential book on music."
  • New York Magazine - #4 in their list of the top 10 books of 2008, edging out Roberto Bolano's 2666 by a spot. (And by about 1000 pages.)
  • Toronto Globe - One of the top 100 books of the year.
  • Eye Weekly - I don't think they've released the issue yet, but it is supposedly on the list.
Are there any that I'm missing here? Either Celine-related or otherwise? Let me know. Speaking of otherwise, I should add that I Shot A Man In Reno also got a nod for Best of 2008 in the Telegraph and in the Observer in the UK.

* * * * *

Tueday 12/23 (TONIGHT!) at 7:00pm
Where: Barbes in Park Slope, Brooklyn

33 1/3 Multimedia Reading Series.
MILES MARSHALL LEWIS: Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
Sly and the Family Stone’s 1971 classic There’s a Riot Goin’ On album was a disturbingly ambivalent snapshot of post-Sixties turbulence, recorded amidst extreme rock excess and the druggy hedonism of singer-songwriter Sly Stone. Join us for some insight into the Family Stone—the first integrated, multiethnic funk-rock band—and the arc of their career from optimism to nihilism. Author Miles Marshall Lewis spins “Family Affair,” “Runnin’ Away” and other tracks while presenting Sly videoclips from Woodstock, the 2000 Showtime documentary The Skin I’m In and more.
Paris-based writer Miles Marshall Lewis has penned essays, interviews and cultural criticism for Rolling Stone, Dazed and Confused, The Believer, Salon.com and elsewhere. A former music editor of Vibe and deputy editor of XXL, he has also published fiction for several anthologies including Bronx Noir and Wanderlust.

* * * * *

I wonder if there will be any overlap between The Onion's list of the best worst most amazing band names of 2008 and the list of proposals for 33 1/3s this time around. I don't know...I might be interested to read the story behind Parasitic Extirpation or Piss Pisstofferson.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home for the Holidays

It'll be a little quiet around here the next couple of weeks - I'm off to the UK tomorrow morning for Christmas and New Year, and won't be back online until Jan 6th. If you're submitting a proposal, you won't get any confirmation that you've received it until around that time. (Although, to repeat, any proposals received at the yahoo account after midnight on New Year's Eve won't be accepted.)

Claire and John Mark will still be around for some of the time over the holiday period, if you have any review copy / promotional queries. And we'll be back in the New Year with much more info on this round of proposals, as well as updates on the Kindle editions, audiobooks, and the imminent Wire, Big Star, Burritos, Clash and Eno books - and much more.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homemade Hollywood

Struggling to come up with the perfect gift for the movie lover in your life? I suspect we can be of assistance!

Clive Young's book Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera is just out - a genuinely entertaining and informative history of fan filmmaking, from the 1920s to the present day. In the words of Annalee Newitz on io9:

"Terrific...an absolute pleasure to read. If you're interested in fan movies, or the subterranean world of Hollywood, it's a must-read."

Or how about this review, by Christopher Mosher, on Comic Book Bin:

"...And that is the best thing about Homemade Hollywood – the stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re into fan films or even film at all. If you broke down the layers of Clive’s creation what’s left is quality stories than no one could make up in a million years from their own imaginations. Some are true underdog stories. A perfect example is the frame for frame remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark fan film. This film was put together by a group of kids during several years as a fun project during their childhood. They did some crazy and admittedly stupid things to get the film completed. But making that film was only half the story. The meat is how these friends drifted apart and lost touch to start new chapters in their lives, some of those chapters being darker than others as one of the members had a drug problem which he did overcome. What makes this story really magical is the fact that their film resurfaced in their adult years getting notoriety to the point where Hollywood is in the process in making a motion picture based on their experiences. How is that for life imitating art or is that art imitating life? There are dozens of stories just like this one from front cover to back that made me smile or even laugh out loud a couple times.

I would close with telling Clive he knocked this book out of the park, to use a tired baseball metaphor. I’m not what one would call well read, but I had a hard time putting Homemade Hollywood down. Normally I have the attention span of a five-year-old so believe me that’s saying something."

Or perhaps this, by Jeremy Hanke in Microfilmmaker magazine:

"...If I had focused more on my fanhood over the years, I might well have combined my filmmaking passions with my passion for the books and shows I loved. In doing so, I would have been much like the inspirational people found in Clive Young’s Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera.

Mr. Young’s book is a historical narrative that follows the rise of fan films from the 1920’s to their climax in the 1990’s and today. While it might not be a how-to book like the ones we normally review, per se, it is an amazingly inspirational book for filmmakers to read. In fact, in my opinion, it ties for best inspirational read with Rebels on the Backlot, the book which chronicles the rise of Independent filmmakers who infiltrated Hollywood in the ‘90’s to create classics like Pulp Fiction, Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, American Beauty, and Fight Club.

Mr. Young focuses on people who are crazy enough to put their lives and reputations on the line to make illegal movies that they can never profit from and, depending on the mores of Hollywood, might not even be able to show in public. Most of these filmmakers are micro-budget filmmakers, but because they are using copywritten characters and concepts, they can never recoup any of their expenses, having to release all of their work on the internet for free to avoid legal repercussions. The most they can hope for is that, if their work is good enough, they will find their own fan following or they might attract the attention of someone who works at the companies that make their favorite franchises who might give them a job.

It takes serious passion to create films with these limitations, and Mr. Young takes you through their history with respect and admiration that is inspiring and encouraging to all low-budget filmmakers."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


News of another wonderful honour for Carl Wilson's book in the series about Celine Dion - it's been named in the Top 10 Books of the Year by New York magazine. They have this to say about it:

Wilson, a hip Toronto music critic, sets out to interrogate his deep hatred for Céline Dion. The result is a slim masterpiece of stunt criticism: a tour of the alien biosphere of Québécois pop culture, a philosophical treatise on taste (he’s especially good on Bourdieu’s “cultural capital”), and almost certainly the smartest thing that will ever be written about the Queen of Schmaltz.

To be on this list, alongside books by Aleksander Hemon, Richard Price, Roberto Bolano, and the utterly wonderful B.S. Johnson, is really something.

Also today, a positive review on Tiny Mix Tapes of Bob Gendron's book on the Afghan Whigs for the series - but a review which contains this gem: "it...never fails as miserably as the series' worst moments" - which perhaps we could put on the back cover of the book's second printing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate, R.I.P.

The 33 1/3 series wouldn't exist without Oliver Postgate. I can't really explain why, but it's true. He died yesterday in England, at the age of 83.

If you grew up outside of the U.K, it's entirely possible that you have no idea who this man was. Well, he created some of the most magical and extraordinary television ever made. Perhaps he's best known for the show "Bagpuss", but I was always more of a "Clangers" kid myself. If you've never seen an episode, set aside 10 minutes and watch "The Intruder" below - the only television programme aimed at toddlers, I suspect, ever to use the word "unwarranted" in its narration. The climax of this episode, between 8:00 and 9:00 minutes, is astonishing.

Sunday Evening

Thanks to everyone (especially Claire, for the organising and the photos) who braved the bitter cold on Sunday and made it out to Barbes in Brooklyn - where Joe Harvard and his band read excerpts from Joe's book and played an hour-long set of covers including "Heroin", "Femme Fatale" and "Venus in Furs". A fun time was had by all, I hope!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Audible, Kindle, etc

Some of you may have noticed this already, but a handful of 33 1/3 titles are now available as downloadable audiobooks from Audible.com and ye olde iTunes. Here, for example, is the link to Andy Miller's book about the Kinks on Audible. Other titles available so far in the series are:

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Highway 61 Revisited
Paul's Boutique
Forever Changes
Pink Moon
In Utero
Meat Is Murder
The Velvet Underground and Nico

We're also in the process of Kindle-izing the series, and we'll let you know as soon as those go on sale, via Amazon.com.

Does anyone own a Kindle yet? Any good?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

For anyone who may have missed it

Just a reminder that, if you wish to send in a proposal for a book in the 33 1/3 series, you have until the end of this month to do so. Here's the original posting below, with full guidelines on how to do it.


You may be interested to know that, as of RIGHT NOW, we’re accepting proposals for future 33 1/3 books, to be published in 2010 and 2011. Please read the information below carefully – I’ve tried to outline the process as clearly as possible.

You can send in one proposal, about one album. Multiple submissions will not be accepted. Draconian, but true!

The “one book per band/artist” rule no longer exists. Therefore, we’ll consider proposals for books about any album that hasn’t already been covered in the series, or isn’t already under contract.

You can find a list of titles already published in the series here, and the books listed as “Coming 2008” and “Titles Announced for 2008 and 2009” are also off-limits. On the “Unknown Status” list, none of these are under contract any more (some of them never were!), with the exception of the books about Kate Bush, Lucinda Williams, and the Clash. So, just to be clear – if you send in a proposal for a book about Pink Flag or Loveless, it’ll be ignored. But if you send in a proposal for a book about The Basement Tapes or Chinese Democracy or Kid A, we’ll absolutely consider it.

The deadline for submission of proposals is midnight on Dec 31st. So you have until the last minute of 2008 (New York time). Any proposals received after that time (and I’ll be watching – drunk, but watching) will not be accepted.

If you have written a book for this series already: we love you, but we’d like to give others a chance. Spreading the wealth, kinda.

If you have submitted a proposal before, but have been turned down, you’re very welcome to have another go.

Regarding your choice of album: this is entirely up to you. I don’t, sadly, have the time to answer emails asking “would album X stand a better chance than album Y?” – so use your best judgment here. My advice would be this: we are looking to sell some books. That’s the bottom line. If you are absolutely convinced that we could sell 4,000 or 5,000 copies of a book about your chosen album, then go for it.

All proposals must be submitted via email. The address for submissions is as follows:


The subject line of your email must use this format: “Proposal for Big Country’s The Crossing”. (This will really help me keep it all organised: thank you in advance.)

Please don't send proposals to my regular work email. And if you have any questions about this process, ask them in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to answer them.

Your proposal should take the form of a Word document attachment. Don't include it in the body of your email.

All proposals that we get at the yahoo account will be acknowledged within a few days of receipt – except towards the end of December, when I may be offline for a little while. I’ll acknowledge those ones as soon as I’m able.


All proposals need to include these simple things:

Your name and contact details;

An outline (up to 2000 words) of how you would approach your album of choice. (This is key. Don’t assume, just because you’ve chosen a no-brainer record, that you don’t have to convince us about it. The best proposals have a real clarity to them, a purposeful angle, and a sense of determination. Why do you love the record? What’s fascinating about it? Why will thousands of people want to read about it? In this section, include any details as to whether you would contact the band/artist in question, or other people connected to the record in some way. Artist involvement isn’t essential, but it can certainly help.)

Up to 500 words about yourself, outlining why you're qualified to write about this record;

A couple of paragraphs on how you would help us promote your book: we do everything we can, but an active author makes a huge difference;

And finally, which book in the series would you hope to emulate, in terms of style and content?


A few more random details…

Absolutely anyone can submit a proposal, except for authors already under contract for the series. You don’t need to be a professional music writer or a legendary rock flautist to be considered.

Will we accept proposals about compilation albums? Yes. About live albums? Yes. About jazz albums? No. (Nothing personal!) About an album that hasn’t been recorded yet? Go ahead, convince us.

The books themselves are between 25,000 and 35,000 words. Almost invariably, this sounds easier than it is. So please only submit a proposal if you’re serious about writing one of these, and if you’re able to commit to it.

Also: I'd advise against doing this for the money. We can’t pay very much – there’s a modest advance against royalties. But if your book ends up selling nicely, you’ll get some decent pocket money for several years to come, and we try to supplement that with translation deals, audiobook deals, etc.

This is hard to predict, but I’d hope to have a yes/no decision for everyone who sends us a proposal by some point in March. It really depends on how many we receive.

Last time around (in early 2007), we received about 450 proposals, and ended up offering contracts to about 20 of them. So the odds aren’t great, when you think about it. If you bruise easily, you might want to think twice about trying this. On the other hand – go for it – it’s fun!

I sincerely hope this covers everything. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section to this post, and we’ll do our best to answer them. As we discovered previously, this system isn’t perfect, but we’ll do everything we can to make it fair, and as open as possible.

Oh, and if you want to share this posting on message boards, facebook, other blogs, go ahead and link to it. Thanks!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odetta, R.I.P.

Another sad death to report - that of Odetta, one of the great singers of the last 50 years. Here's a part of the entry on Odetta, from Michael Gray's Bob Dylan Encyclopedia..., and below, an all-too-brief clip of Odetta at the Newport Folk Festival.


She was encouraged through the 1950s by many in the music business, especially Harry Belafonte, on whose 1959 TV Special she appeared to great effect. This can be readily imagined by anyone who saw the vintage footate of Odetta performing 'Water Boy' shown within Scorsese's No Direction Home in 2005, on which the stark, ferocious power of her field-holler delivery and explosive use of the sound-box on her guitar were matched only by her terrifying teeth. This all leapt out at the viewer across a 50-year divide to explain instantaneously why Bob Dylan had found her so revelatory and important to his early entrancement with folk - and when it was new, such a performance must have exploded into Eisenhower America's living rooms as the nightmare embodiment of the nation's oppressed ex-slaves rising up as if to start a slaughter of revenge.

But Odetta was no field-hand, as made clear when, appearing at Belafonte's Carnegie Hall concert of May 1960 - billed above Miriam Makeba and the Chad Mitchell trio - she followed a medley of 'I've Been Driving on Bald Mountain' and 'Water Boy' with a double act with Belafonte on that tiresome old Leadbelly song 'There's a Hole in the Bucket', on which the timing and delivery of her spoken lines is that of a professional actress. To track back through her 1950s recordings is to recognise that despite the marvellous ferocity of 'Water Boy', the great majority are understandably invaded by the well-spoken gentility and concert-platform formality of musicianship that were prevalent in 1950s folk music, despite the way that both the blues and rock'n'roll had demonstrated the artistic glory to be had from abolishing these aspirations.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New York City: Fleshtones Documentary, Friday Night

Relatively short notice, but if you're in NYC, you might be interested in this early screening of Geoffray Barbier's brand new documentary about the Fleshtones, Pardon Us For Living But The Graveyard Is Full. Details can be found here.

(Full disclosure: I was interviewed for this film at Continuum HQ on Maiden Lane - no idea if my inane ramblings made the cut, but the movie definitely does feature commentary from Peter Buck, Steve Wynn, and author Joe Bonomo, the man behind our wonderful band biography, Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Best Books of the Year!

Very good to see that our Celine Dion 33 1/3 book was listed as one of the books of 2008 in the Globe and Mail over the weekend. Here's what they said about it:

Carl Wilson's distaste for the music of Celine Dion becomes the basis for a wide-ranging book predicated on the possibility that what repels us may say more about us than what attracts us. Finally, he is able to experience schmaltz without shame. Readers of his insightful, engaging and unexpectedly moving book will probably feel the same.

You can read the entire article (one of the best lists I've seen so far this holiday season) here.

In related news, Carl's book was also listed as a Christmas pick by the Daily Telegraph in the UK, alongside Graeme Thomson's I Shot a Man in Reno.