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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We're on a skeleton crew this week as we sift through the dregs of 2009, and I have a long leisurely lunch calling my name, so pardon the lack of updates. But in the meantime...

Here is a great in-depth interview with Geeta Dayal on her volume on Brian Eno from KEXP in Seattle:

Why an album by Brian Eno?

I got into Brian Eno’s music as a teenager, but I got into his ambient work first and his rock music much later. I’m 30 years old now. When I was 17 or 18, I was really into electronic music. (I still am.) I bought my first Kraftwerk record when I was 13 and that’s probably what inspired me to go to MIT at a fairly young age. Electronic music just seemed like the natural soundtrack for a place like MIT. I had friends who built homemade synthesizers and robots and things like that; I made lots of short films and studied the brain.

It’s funny, because I basically worked backwards with Eno. I started out listening to the ambient records, then heard the rock albums, and then heard Roxy Music last. It was interesting to hear Eno that way, because I could really see his work as part of a continuum.

As for Eno’s other productions, I love Talking Heads and David Bowie and No New York (the inspirational early New York post-punk compilation). I was never a huge fan of U2, so I was never one of those people who knew Brian Eno because of U2. It was really sort of the other way around — I paid closer attention to U2 because of Eno.

Bonus: A very cool interview with Jonathan Lethem about P.K. Dick, conducted by Erik Davis, who wrote the 33.3 on Zeppelin.

Friday, December 18, 2009

America's Film Legacy

Just a quick one: you can hear an absolutely wonderful interview with Daniel Eagan, author of our book America's Film Legacy - he talks with Leonard Lopate, and you can listen to it here. Fascinating, fascinating stuff!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vol 70: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future, by Dan Kois

We're very pleased to announce the publication of Vol.70 in the series. (Vol.68 will publish next week, and Vol.69 was published exactly three years ago.)

Dan Kois' brilliant book tells the story of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and his album Facing Future. Iz, if you don't know him, was a towering figure in Hawaiian popular music. He died in 1997, and his most famous performance is his recording of a medley of "What a Wonderful World" and "Over the Rainbow." The book tells the story of Iz's life, career and impact, focusing on the album that originally featured the medley and which continues to sell steadily.

You can check out Dan's blog about the book here.

And here's the book's prologue...

***

Milan Bertosa was exhausted. The recording engineer had moved from Chicago to Hawai'i a year ago and was still struggling to make a name for his fledgling studio, Audio Resource Honolulu. Which meant that when a big-deal client called saying he had a bruddah with him who wanted to record, he took the gig. Even if the guy was calling from a pay phone at 2:30 in the morning. Even if Milan could barely hear him over the bar noise in the background and the guy was obviously completely out of his skull. Even if Milan asked who the singer was and the guy said some long-ass Hawaiian name Milan couldn't even understand, "Israel Kalakalakalaka."

He took the gig because every gig counts, even bullshit gigs of the type often sprung by this producer. Plenty of Milan's business in 1988 had come from this guy—legitimate daytime recording, but also lots of late-night sessions with giggling girls picked up in bars, convinced by a smooth-talking producer that he could take them places. "She's perfect," he'd say to Milan in front of the bar girls. Milan never saw those girls twice. Sometimes you do stupid little things to make clients happy and make the checks show up on time.

He almost turned it down anyway. He could barely keep his eyes open after yet another grueling night trying to record James Arceneaux's girl group. Arceneaux had a lot of money, which he said he'd received from an NFL team after suffering a career-ending injury. Wherever the money came from, he was blowing it all trying to become a music mogul. His latest project was a dance-oriented girl group, four women whose only qualification for pop-music stardom was an impressive performance in the wet-bikini contest at Shorebirds in Waikiki. Sadly for Milan, they couldn't sing, and so he'd spent all night recording them word by word: "I" ... and then he'd punch Stop. "LOVE" ... Stop. "YOU" ... Stop. It was horrible, but on the upside it was taking so long to record them that James Arceneaux had kept the studio booked three nights a week for a month. It seemed he'd continue until his patience, or money, ran out.

The girls had just cleared out when the phone rang, and Milan tried to convince the client that it was too late, he was too tired, but then the singer got on the phone. His voice was high-pitched, quiet, but audible over the noise in the background. "Please?" Israel Kalakalakalaka asked him. "I want to come in. I've got these ideas, and I don't want to lose the ideas. You know how that is?"

Milan sighed. "Where are you?" he asked.

"We're at Sparky's"—a bar a few blocks away from Milan's studio, and the city's number-one place to score. Great. But the singer was sweet and friendly, and so Milan finally said, "You've got a half-hour to get here, and then you've got a half-hour when you get here, and then I'm leaving."

As he cleaned up the studio, he left his back door open, facing the parking lot of his building, the Century Center, an office and condo tower at the corner of Kalakaua and Kapiolani on the western edge of Waikiki. Even at four in the morning, the neighborhood was still hopping; the tower was surrounded by strip clubs and watering holes, with the brand-new Hard Rock Cafe the only mainstream tourist attraction around. A while later—more than half an hour, Milan knew—he heard a car pull into the lot, and soon the biggest man Milan had ever seen walked in the door. He looked like a house carrying an 'ukulele. When he stepped into the studio, the floated floor shifted unnervingly beneath Milan's feet.

He was six foot three and about 500 pounds. He was wearing a giant custom-made aloha shirt the size of a tent and huge versions of the same rubber flip-flops—slippers—that every local guy wore. His long black hair framed a wide, cheerful face, the eyes deep-set above broad cheeks. Israel Kalakalakalaka engulfed Milan's hand in his and said, "Hi, bruddah."

The client who was responsible for this whole mess stayed in the car, so Milan was on his own. The first step was finding a chair for Israel to sit in. Everything he had in the studio was flimsy—a 500-pound Hawaiian like Israel would flatten it. There was a drummer's stool, but given Israel's size, it would serve better as a suppository than as a seat. Israel waited patiently as Milan called up to his business partner, asleep in his condo on the building's 20th floor, who barely managed to answer before brushing Milan off and going back to bed. So Milan called security, and the guard brought down a steel chair, into which Israel settled gratefully. He was breathing heavily just from the effort of staying on his feet.

Milan set a couple of microphones in front of Israel and, back in the control room, threw some two-inch tape on the 24-track recorder. He asked Israel to strum and sing something so he could set his levels. Milan kept picking up Israel's breathing on the vocal mike, but there was nothing he could do about that. He rolled tape and told him, "Go ahead."

Israel looked down at the mike. "'Kay, dis one's for Gabby," he said. He strummed the 'ukulele, like a child's toy cradled in his big arms, and began singing, a long series of oooohs in a high falsetto, and then lyrics: "Somewhere over the rainbow..."

When Israel Kalakalakalaka left close to dawn on that morning in 1988, Milan Bertosa handed him a cassette of his performance. He saved a copy for himself, and every once in a while for the next few years, he dug it out and played it for a girl he wanted to impress. He certainly never thought the product of that late-night recording session would wind up on an album, much less become the most famous song in Hawaiian music history. Or that the medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" would become the engine that drove sales of the most popular Hawaiian album ever, one that would simultaneously empower and imperil Hawaiian music worldwide. Or that Israel Kamakawiwo'ole—the morbidly obese, drug-addicted singer with the soft voice and the unpronounceable name—would become a Hawaiian hero and then, less than ten years after that session, a Hawaiian martyr. He certainly didn't think that the lovely, simple song he'd recorded that night would become, for hundreds of thousands of Mainlanders, their sole connection to Hawai'i, a foreign country that just happens to be part of America.

All Milan knew was the revelation that had hit him that night in the control room, half-asleep at four in the morning, listening in wonder. This guy was really playing music. It didn't matter that he mixed up the words, or that he occasionally hit a bum chord on his 'ukulele. He wasn't a bikini-contest winner barely managing to eke out syllables. He could really sing. I get it, Milan thought. I get it. This is what I'm supposed to be doing for a living.

***

Monday, December 14, 2009

America's Film Legacy




Two new 33 1/3 volumes are just publishing, that we'll be telling you about very shortly - in the meantime, you might want to hear about our new release America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, by Daniel Eagan.

Coming in at 832 pages, it's a monster of a book and is one of the most magisterial works I've ever had the honour of working on. It consists of 500 essays - one about each of the films in the National Film Registry. A wonderful book to dip and and out of, or to read straight through. Either way, it provides an astonishing range of perspectives on the American film industry, from some delightfully obscure movies to a selection of stone-cold classics. Let me allow a couple of filmmakers to chime in about the book:

"The opportunity to revisit and be inspired by the past is one of the purposes behind the National Film Registry. The 1915 film The Italian was preserved from a single paper copy. If prints were readily available at the time I made The Godfather, I would have enjoyed having access to it. I'm proud that The Godfather and The Godfather Part II join The Italian on the Registry, an attempt to preserve our cinematic heritage. America's Film Legacy doesn't just explore the films on the Registry, it ties together the past and the present, showing how the great movies of today can be built on the those of an earlier era."
-Francis Ford Coppola

"America's Film Legacy is a brilliant, insightful and invaluable breakthrough book which makes American film history and the men and women --both the legendary and the all but unknown--who created it, come to life in fresh and vivid detail. This superb book offers a startling and wise appreciation of the essence of their film achievements."
-Terry Sanders, Two-Time Academy Award-winning Filmmaker

And here's one of the essays in the book, about the 1956 film Disneyland Dream:

***

Disneyland Dream

Robbins Barstow, 1956. Sound, color, 1.37. 35 minutes.

Featuring: Robbins Barstow, Meg Barstow, Mary Barstow, David Barstow, Daniel Barstow.

Credits: Filmed, Directed, Written, Edited, and Narrated by Robbins Barstow. BTA Films & Video, Wethersfield, Connecticut, USA.

Additional cast: Steve Martin.

Additional credits: Sound and narration recorded in 1995.

Available: Internet Archive, www.archive.org. Contact Robbins Barstow at RobbinsB@aol.com.


Born in 1920, Robbins Barstow started making movies at the age of twelve, “family chronicles, travelogs, and other documentaries,” as he wrote to blogger Cory Doctorow in 2008. In 1936, he filmed Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge, a twelve-minute fiction short starring himself, two younger brothers, and three neighbors. He was by that time a member of the Amateur Cinema League, and a devoted fan of Hollywood movies. Given the problems with available equipment and amateur acting, Robbins’ Tarzan short shows a sophisticated understanding of camera angles and composition, structuring scenes, and editing.

In a biographical essay, he wrote, “All my life I have had two primary aims in my movie and video making: create meaningful records of people, places, and events; and to share these ‘moving images’ with other people. I edited my films to make them meaningful, and I projected them to limited, on-the-spot audiences, in homes or auditoriums, to share them.” Barstow also married, raised a family of three, and worked for thirty-four years as director of professional development for the Connecticut Educational Association.

Disneyland Dream, which features Barstow along with his wife Meg and children Mary (eleven at the time), David (eight), and Danny (four), came about as the result of a 1956 contest sponsored by 3M’s “Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape.” Every family member entered the contest, with Danny’s entry winning one of twenty-five grand prizes, a week’s vacation at Disneyland.

In Disneyland Dream, Barstow provides an amusing narrative frame for the trip, documenting the submission of entries, how family members “fainted” on learning of Danny’s win, and their flight from Connecticut to California. He employs tricks like reversing footage, using stop motion, and inserting associative footage like fireworks into the storyline. Throughout the film he is an indefatigable performer, with his wife and children enthusiastic accomplices.

The film displays many of the characteristics and some of the drawbacks to home movies. Barstow’s handheld, 16mm camera cannot record scenes as clearly as more expensive equipment, especially without the support of tripods and dollies. He did not have the luxury of pre-planning many of his shots, was not able to film second or third takes on location, and had to use existing light. The opening scenes at the family home in Wethersfield, Connecticut, where Barstow was able to control his actors and settings, and stage written scenes, are more carefully composed and photographed than the later Disneyland material.

Most home movies share some key elements. Due to the nature of the equipment--the time it takes to set up, for example--home filmmakers tend to gather their subjects in familiar tableaus. Around the Christmas tree, exiting the front door, entering the car, seated around a picnic table. Few filmmakers proceed beyond these initial points, because they are just recording their families, not involving them in stories. Also because the equipment prevents them from taking part in the festivities they are filming. Another staple of home movies is modes of transportation. Arrivals and departures, by car, train, bike, boat, or plane, may account for more footage than blowing out candles on birthday cakes.

Disneyland Dream has its share of tableaus and tarmacs, but Barstow graces them with a point-of-view and an understanding of how to shoot and put together scenes. He was also lucky enough to visit Disneyland when it was only a year old, in fact not entirely completed. At the time, the Disney staff made its own films about the amusement park which have recently been released through the Walt Disney Treasures series. Bright and professional, they are like Hollywood product, promising beauty and excitement. Barstow’s film gives a much better approximation of what the Disneyland experience was like for an average tourist.

Barstow continued filming in 16mm until 1985, when he switched first to 8mm and then to video. The new processes enabled him to record live commentary (and were considerably cheaper). While converting his old 16mm stock, Barstow was able to add soundtracks and narrations. Over seven decades, he has amassed more than one hundred amateur video productions, which he has shown to church groups, historical societies, and a growing number of film organizations, including Northeast Historic Film (www.oldfilm.org) and Home Movie Day (www.homemovieday.com). He has also donated twelve of his works to the Library of Congress.

Soon after Disneyland Dream was named to the National Film Registry in December, 2008, Barstow received an e-mail from comedian Steve Martin. As reported by Susan Dunne in The Hartford Courant, Martin recognized himself in the film: “At age eleven I worked at Disneyland. I sold guidebooks at the park from 1956 to about 1958. I am as positive as one can be that I appear about 20:20 into your film, low in the frame, dressed in a top hat, vest, and striped pink shirt, moving from left to right, holding a guidebook out for sale.”

***

And you can watch Disneyland Dream right here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Odds and Ends (The Holiday Gift Guide Edition)

  1. Once you've seen Billy Ray Cyrus and Stryper rock the Stock Exchange, tune into WFMU's Music to Spazz by tonight from 8-11pm, where Dave the Spazz will be talking to Joe Bonomo about his book Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found. Archives will go up here shortly afterward.
  2. The folks at the Oxford American, God bless 'em, have put up their "Books We Love" online feature for December, and they have nice things to say about Jerry Lee and Little Richard. Click here and scroll down to the bottom.
  3. The Oxford American's Music Issue is wonderful, as I mentioned here before, but I think this facebook update from a friend pretty much sums up the vibe: "Listening to the Arkansas Masters CD from the latest Oxford American Music Issue. Kitten on lap. Rain outside. Pork shoulder getting delicous in the crock pot. I like today."
  4. Nick Rombes, author of A Cultural Dictionary of Punk, is publishing a novel through the US Postal Service (does not come in a Kindle-ready edition). This looks awesome, and like everything included on this page, would make a VERY COOL GIFT THIS SEASON.
  5. Speaking of gifts, this beautiful 800+ page guide to the films in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, America's Film Legacy is sure to thrill the film buff in your life. (And is easy on the pocketbook, too!)
  6. I should also mention that our biography of Bill Watterson, Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, has been a popular choice this season (and it DOES come in a Kindle-ready version).
  7. Not 33 1/3 related, but these 1-gallon beer brewing kits look classy, and I've always explained the joy of brewing as like having an indoor winter garden (that will get you tipsy at harvest time). Give it to a friend and invite yourself over in a month or two. Win-win.
  8. Joe Pernice has a lovely interview in American Songwriter.
  9. To quote Larry King regarding his online prowess: "We have a Twicker." Unfortunately, unlike King, we don't have anyone to take our dictation and type it up for us, so it's a little under-used at the moment. But for you Twicker-minded folk, go ahead and follow us at http://twitter.com/333books and we will make it up to you soon.
  10. This seems like as good a time as any to remind you about the 33 1/3 facebook page as well.
  11. How have we not crowed about this yet? We mentioned earlier that Paste Magazine chose Carl Wilson's 33 1/3 about Celine Dion as one of the top 20 books of the decade from all categories (just a few hairs below Harry Potter, no less), but we neglected to mention that in their top 12 MUSIC books of the decade, Carl's book came in at #1.
  12. Very very soon--with any luck before the end of the month--you will be able to purchase Dan Kois' 33 1/3 on Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future (which is awesome, just started reading it), and Mark Richardson's volume on The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka. David will have more on these two titles later.

The most bizarre concert line up you are likely to see. Ever.

Stryper, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Manhattan Transfer, Twisted Sister with Broadway's “Rock of Ages” cast, Collective Soul, Honor Society, David Nail, Joshua Bell, Kate Voegele, Tamela Mann and The Monsignor Donovan Choir with special appearances by Valerie Smaldone, Kym Johnson. The New York Jets Flight Crew and Santa Claus...

All playing this afternoon at (where else) The New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Starts in about 5 minutes!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The League Table, December 2009

We haven't put up one of these in a while, so here you go. The list below shows all books published so far in the 33 1/3 series, in descending order of sales revenue (not units sold). Things are very tight between no.2 and no.9, so those positions could change a lot over the next few months. And kudos to the Elliott Smith and Brian Eno books, both of which have made very quick starts. (As always, bear in mind that this list obviously favours those books that have been out for 5 or 6 years, rather than just a few months...)

***

1. Neutral Milk Hotel
2. The Rolling Stones
3. Radiohead
4. The Kinks
5. The Smiths
6. Velvet Underground
7. Joy Division
8. The Beatles
9. Celine Dion
10. Bob Dylan
11. The Beach Boys
12. Led Zeppelin
13. David Bowie
14. My Bloody Valentine
15. Pink Floyd
16. Beastie Boys
17. Pixies
18. DJ Shadow
19. Neil Young
20. Love
21. The Replacements
22. Jeff Buckley
23. The Band
24. Jimi Hendrix
25. Sonic Youth
26. Dusty Springfield
27. R.E.M.
28. Captain Beefheart
29. The Ramones
30. Steely Dan
31. Black Sabbath
32. Bruce Springsteen
33. Slayer
34. Magnetic Fields
35. Prince
36. Guided By Voices
37. Nirvana
38. Minutemen
39. Elvis Costello
40. James Brown
41. Tom Waits
42. Belle & Sebastian
43. The Who
44. The Byrds
45. Elliott Smith
46. Nick Drake
47. Stone Roses
48. Abba
49. Throbbing Gristle
50. Jethro Tull
51. Joni Mitchell
52. U2
53. The MC5
54. Sly and the Family Stone
55. Brian Eno
56. Stevie Wonder
57. Afghan Whigs
58. PJ Harvey
59. Big Star
60. Patti Smith
61. Wire
62. Guns N Roses
63. A Tribe Called Quest
64. The Pogues
65. Flying Burrito Brothers
66. Richard & Linda Thompson
67. Madness
68. Nas

***

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found

Another brand new Continuum book we're very excited about is Joe Bonomo's thrilling study of Jerry Lee Lewis - which started life, if I remember correctly, as a proposal for a 33 1/3 book. (Joe did eventually get the green light for a 33 1/3: his awesome volume on "Highway to Hell" will be out in the spring...)

Although Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found focuses on the extraordinary "Live" At The Star-Club album, it covers a heck of a lot of other ground, too, and - to me at least - gives real insight into Jerry Lee's entire career.

Here's an extract from the book.

***

As sequenced by Loch, “Live” At The Star-Club begins with rolling l’s tossed at the riotous crowd, in Jerry Lee’s typically lubricious, come-on way. As Jimmy Gutterman puts it: “He did not wait for the opening number to start performing.” The trio of songs that opens “Live” At The Star-Club are so gargantuan, so impossibly rocking and intense, that it’s a wonder that the listener survives them. They call to my mind the opening salvo of the MC5’s Kick Out The Jams and the Ramones’ It’s Alive — breakneck, barely controlled, scary — and are among the greatest rock & roll ever taped.

Perhaps Jerry Lee ratcheted things up because it was the last night of the tour, and because he knew that the show was being recorded. Or perhaps, stinging from his polite performance in front of Richard Green in the New Musical Express offices a few weeks earlier, he was psyched to do American music proud in the face of this longhaired Limey nonsense (“I used to think that they were a bit wooden . . .”). Perhaps the Prellies that Fascher remembers Jerry Lee extravagantly downing nightly with whiskey chasers amped up his native speed, leaving the Nashville Teens coughing in his exhaust. Perhaps we’re simply lucky that this particular show in April was recorded.

When the lights come down and the emcee bellows “Jerry Lee Lewis!” to a cacophony of cheers, whistles, and clapping, we’re transported into the loud, smoky Grosse Freiheit 39 on a rowdy Saturday night. Loch’s crowd microphone and the subsequent mix tap the cries, hollers, cheers, and sometimes stray conversations of the large crowd, surely as essential an ingredient of the album’s triumph as the performances. Horst-Dieter Fischer recalls that before the second set, folks were asked to leave the dance floor and to sit down at the tables and at the bars, to eliminate audience noise from the recordings. The well-intentioned effort failed, thankfully. The crowd at the Star-Club on this evening doesn’t hide, muffled, behind a soundboard veil — everyone’s around you, behind you, elbowing, glad-handing, throwing their collective
inebriated arm around you. Who needs Steinhagers or rum und koks? “Live” At The Star-Club is the only album I know that can get you drunk even if there’s no alcohol in your house.

“Mean Woman Blues,” the lead cut, is nothing short of a mini concert in and of itself. Loch chose well: Jerry Lee had released a version of Claude Demetrius’ song on an EP in 1957, a few months after Elvis Presley had issued his own take (on the Loving You film soundtrack). Elvis’ version was fun, swinging, and pretty dirty for the late 1950s, and he clearly has fun taking the risk. Jerry Lee’s version is typically perverse in that the subject of the song shifts from a woman who’s so mean that she fucks with an angry face, to . . . well, to the Killer himself, who pinches the spotlight in the first verse and never relinquishes it.
Oh, the mean woman gets a nod or two, mostly in the form of lascivious ogling of ruby lips and shapely hips, but apparently more urgent for Jerry Lee is a discourse on his love for coffee and tea. As always, the lyrics take a back seat to their filthy delivery, which takes a back seat to Jerry Lee’s piano playing, which takes a back seat to nothing and no one. By the end, “Mean Woman Blues” is the Killer’s only(with help from the rock-steady trio of Roland Janes, J.W. Brown, and Jimmy Van Eaton, of course). And it’s become the standard bearer: when Roy Orbison released his version of the song in 1963, he assaulted welcoming charts with Jerry Lee’s arrangement, substituting his own name for Jerry Lee’s in a kind of a geeky, understudy eagerness that somehow works.

Seated onstage, he cocks his head, looks over his right shoulder at the smoke-filled crowd, lets a rolled “l” escape from juvee hall and issues a grand “onyourmarksgetsetgo” glissando that leads to a suspenseful “Mmmm” before the flag is dropped: “I got a woman, mean as she can be!” Barrie Jenkins, on cue from the cheers of recognition erupting before the first line is out, sprints out of the gate with a snare roll, and the 40-minute gallop is on. What follows sets the benchmark for the rest of the album: loud, crashing, and impossibly fast.

“Mean Woman Blues” smokes. Pete Harris’ bass is warmly recorded, providing ample road for Jerry Lee’s jalopy-joyride of a performance, and Jenkins and John Allen ably keep up, Jenkins punishing his ride cymbal in double-time and Allen battening down the hatches with a clipped rhythm, tossing out tentative licks at the ends of some lines — but for all intents and purposes the Nashville Teens sound astonished, as if they’ve awoken on a carnival ride at the crest of a steep hill. Jerry Lee’s left hand is bedrock: sure, cocky, clock-perfect. His right hand virtually stages a show itself: rooster-like in its swagger, proud, fl ashy. Thirty seconds into the song and you can feel the sense of wire-taut fun and abandon, and the palpable fear that the whole thing might fall apart soon if the players aren’t careful. The Nashville Teens pay close attention to the verses — remember, only 30 seconds before they didn’t know what song they were going to be playing — and hit the stops well, though the Killer rushes through them, impatient.

Soon the song arrives at the place everyone in the crowd is waiting for, the first solo — Jerry Lee lets loose a yeah-hah! and pistons his right hand in eighth notes while Jenkins and Harris squeeze shut their eyes and go along for the ride, borne aloft by a delirious whistle from the crowd. The glissandos are hysterical now. Jerry Lee tosses Allen his first guitar solo, which he plays well, raw and choppy, though it’s hard to hear in the mix and beneath his bandmates’ bashing around. Jerry Lee speeds up and barks “Go!” to the band — impatient to get back on mike? Testing the band’s endurance? By the time the Killer does butt back in to holler that he ain’t bragging but you know it’s understood that when he does something he does it mighty good, it sounds like redundant boasting.

***

The book also features gorgeous cover art based around an original painting by Jon Langford of the Mekons. Enjoy!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Oh Canada!


Attention Canadians!

Vice Magazine's Canadian outpost is hosting a contest to win copies of recent and will-be-available-by-the-time-the-contest-ends 33 1/3s.

Go here to enter to win copies of the following recent books in the series:

Wire's Pink Flag by Wilson Neate
Nas' Illmatic by Matthew Gasteier
Big Star's Radio City by Bruce Eaton
Madness' One Step Beyond... by Terry Edwards
Brian Eno's Another Green World by Geeta Dayal

And these two not-yet-released books in the series:
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole's Facing Future by Dan Kois
The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka by Mark Richardson

And some Candian content for good measure:
Celine Dion's Let’s Talk About Love by Carl Wilson

Semi-related: I will be watching Sloan rock out in about 4 hours, and that pleases me.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Award-winning Authors

Many congratulations to both Geeta Dayal and Christoph Cox, who are among the writers who've won substantial grants this week via the Warhol Foundation.

Geeta is the author of our fresh new Brian Eno volume in the 33 1/3 series. Christoph is the co-editor of Audio Culture, one of Continuum's perennial bestsellers.

You can read more about the Arts Writers Grant Program here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Alert: Tom Waits Event in San Francisco

Tom Waits fans, and those of you who enjoyed David Smay's excellent volume on Swordfishtrombones for the series, might like to know that there's a chance to see the movie Big Time on Thurs Dec 10th in San Francisco.

Here's the press release about the event:

***

To celebrate Tom Waits’ 60th birthday, David Smay and Magic Bus Movie Night will be hosting a rare showing of Big Time. This legendary concert movie features material from Waits’ breakthrough Eighties albums Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Frank’s Wild Years. Filmed at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, and Los Angeles’ Wiltern theater Big Time is no ordinary concert film, but a dazzling, mad descent into the Waits universe. Backed by one of the greatest live bands ever assembled, including Marc Ribot and SF local legend, Ralph Carney, Big Time is a must see for any Waits fan.

Also included in the evening will be a showing of rare and fascinating Waits related clips, and the world’s most challenging Tom Waits Trivia Contest.

David Smay is the author of the Continuum Press 33 1/3 book Swordfishtrombones, as well as host of the Los Angeles Esotouric Tom Waits bus tour Crawling Down Cahuenga. He has also co-edited two books with Kim Cooper, Lost In the Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed and Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth.

Thursday December 10th
9th St. Media Center
145 9th St.(btwn Mission and Howard) San Francisco 94103
Doors 7 movies at 8PM
$5

***

And here's a clip from the movie itself...

Oxford American Music Issue

I'll probably write more about this once I've had a chance to read and listen, but the Oxford American's Annual Music Issue just landed in my inbox. By my count, there are eight (8) current and future Continuum authors contributing articles to this issue, one (1) mighty fine looking advertisement for the Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard books, and two (2) CDs of great music--volume 1 is full of Southern music, and volume 2 spotlights Arkansans.