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

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Star, again

Really great to see all the attention (and, one hopes, sales) for the Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky. All very deliberately synchronised, of course, with Bruce Eaton's 33 1/3 volume on the band's Radio City album - a book which possibly contains more straight-up fresh information on a band than any other in the series to date.

Here's an extract, followed by a Vanessa Paradis clip I hadn't seen before...

Oh, and there's much more Big Star stuff from Bruce Eaton over at his blog to support the book!


While Badfinger and the Raspberries could be considered classicists - skilfully working within the parameters of the genre - Big Star twisted and shifted the forms just far enough to add a palpable feeling of impending disintegration and anarchy to the mix. It's for this sense of surprise and chaos just around the corner amidst the classic power pop sound and forms that Big Star has wielded such huge influence over post-punk rock - what ultimately came to be known as "alternative." Big Star was, and remains so, a bright beacon for musicians who had affinities for both punk's underground rebellious energy and more sophisticated 1960s rock and roll played by people who actually knew how to play their instruments and write real songs. Put the two influences together in some reasonable proportion and you have R.E.M., the Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, the dB's, the Bangles, Tommy Keene, Shoes, and Matthew Sweet along with legions of bands stringing half-baked melodies across jangly chord progressions who followed in their path. (Today Alex Chilton expresses bemusement at the many bands who pay musical tribute, offering hearty approval for only a single one of his many acolytes. And no, I ain't telling which one.)

As Chris Bell was departing Big Star, he and Chilton divided up the songwriting credits for the four songs the band had demoed in late 1972. Chilton, getting the better of the deal, walked away with "Back of a Car" and "O My Soul" while Bell retained "There's a Light" and "I Got Kinda Lost." "Back of a Car" is one of two Radio City tracks that was initially recorded at the mono demo session and the single track with the most overall creative input from Bell. Despite this, there is no evidence that Bell played on "Back of a Car," as has been sometimes suggested, or any other Radio City track for that matter.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

It was 20 years ago today...

(Actually, maybe it was 22 or 23 - I'm not entirely sure.)

One of the many joys of youtube is that random people end up posting awesome things like this - the only video by my brother's band, My Baby's Arm, for their Melody Maker Single of the Week, "Hung in the Playground". (That's my brother on guitar, if you're curious.) I think it's held up pretty well, compared to a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time... Anyhow, judge for yourself!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Getting our feet wet Part II

Beach Mix, Side B

Brain - The Action
I Can’t Explain - David Bowie
Open My Eyes - Nazz
Feel So Fine - El Goodo
Inter-City Kitty - The Monks
Hanging on the Telephone - The Nerves
Boy About Town - The Jam
Phantasies - Stephen Malkmus
Windy Weather - Ian & Sylvia
Sun - The Toms
On and On and On - ABBA

I meant to upload side B before I headed to the beach myself, but that didn't happen... As before, click on the title of this post to listen. If you want to subscribe to the feed for future episodes, click on the "subscribe to the blog" link on the left, and at the top of the RSS page, subscribe via itunes (or whatever software you use to listen to music) under "choose application."

More info on the 33 1/3 podcast will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Just getting our toes wet

It's the last weekend of summer (and a long one for some of us), so I thought I would share a quick summer mixtape for the long weekend. In the near future we are hoping to do a little more with the blog and music and whatnot, so this will also serve as a bit of a trial run for another larger project. Until then, well, here's this. Enjoy, and bear with us as we work out the kinks.

Click on the title of this post to make it go.

Beach Mix, Side A:

Glittering Facade - Dave Mason & Cass Elliot
The Door Into Summer - The Monkees
Nobody - Larry Williams & Johnny Watson & The Kaliedoscope
Oh No! - Camper Van Beethoven
Empty House - The Pastels
Timeless Melody - The La’s
What’ll I Do For Satisfaction - Johnny Daye
Back Yard - Prince Valiant
Sax Jive - Leribe

High Fidelity

A wonderfully confusing offer from the folks at Zune:

The confusing thing is that we did actually publish a guide to High Fidelity (the novel) in 2002, in our "Continuum Contemporaries" series of guides to contemporary novels. (If you're so inclined, I can highly recommend the books about White Teeth, Infinite Jest, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.) And it was the "Continuum Contemporaries" series that gave me the original idea for 33 1/3.

Some random ancient history for a Friday morning... (And thanks to Kaminska for the spot!)