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

Monday, November 29, 2010

10 "Must-Read" books in the series

Margaret Eby over at Flavorwire has an intriguing article about the 33 1/3 series, picking 10 titles to read.

Not exactly the selection I would have chosen and perhaps a little skewed towards some of the more recent entries, but it's a great list nonetheless.

Also on Flavorwire, the 15 Best Shows on Basic Cable which I love purely because of its support of "Terriers".

Monday, November 22, 2010


I was reading Nick Paumgarten's recent profile of Elvis Costello from The New Yorker over lunch (sorry, subscription required), and noticed an off-hand mention of some of the ten or so books written about him, including "a book-length, elliptically biographical exegesis of his album 'Armed Forces,'" which of course refers to Franklin Bruno's excellent 33 1/3 on the album.

Paumgarten also brings up the old "dancing about architecture" thing, which may be the single most frequently referenced quote in reviews of books in the 33 1/3 series. I would like to put forward a motion to declare that cliche off-limits and instead replace it with this quote from David Lee Roth: "Music critics hate me and love Elvis Costello because they all look like Elvis Costello." *

*Though probably not intended as such, considering how these two have aged over the years, this is a massive compliment to music critics everywhere, regardless of gender or visual impairment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kraftwerk Collection - now out in the US

The book is now out in the US and available at a fine retailer near you, or via the internet.

A bit about the book and what you'll find inside:

When they were creating and releasing their most influential albums in the mid to late 1970s, Kraftwerk were far from the musical mainstream – and yet it is impossible now to imagine the history of popular music without them. Today, Kraftwerk are considered to be an essential part of pop’s DNA, alongside artists like the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, and Little Richard.

Kraftwerk’s immediate influence might have been on a generation of synth-based bands (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the Human League, Depeche Mode, Yello, et al), but their influence on the emerging dance culture in urban America has proved longer lasting and more decisive.

This collection of original essays looks at Kraftwerk – their legacy and influence – from a variety of angles, and demonstrates persuasively and coherently that however you choose to define their art, it’s impossible to underestimate the ways in which it predicted and shaped the future.

Here is a visual reminder of why we love Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk- The Robots - You Tube Video

Table of Contents

Introduction: The (Ger)man Machines
David Pattie
I. Music, Technology and Culture
1. Autobahn and Heimatklänge: Soundtracking the FRG
Sean Albiez and Kyrre Tromm Lindvig
2. Kraftwerk and the Image of the Modern
David Cunningham
3. Kraftwerk – The Decline of the Pop Star
Pertti Grönholm
4. Authentic Replicants: Brothers between Decades between Kraftwerk(s)
Simon Piasecki and Robert Wilsmore
5. Kraftwerk: Technology and Composition
Carsten Brocker (Translated by Michael Patterson)
6. Kraftwerk: Playing the Machines
David Pattie

II. Influences and Legacies
7. Europe Non- Stop: West Germany, Britain and the Rise of
Synthpop 1975–81
Sean Albiez
8. Vorsprung durch Technik – Kraft werk and the British Fixation
with Germany
Richard Witts
9. ‘Dragged into the Dance’ – The Role of Kraftwerk in the
Development of Electro- Funk
Joseph Toltz
10. Average White Band: Kraftwerk and the Politics of Race
Mark Duffett
11. Trans-Europa Express: Tracing the Trance Machine
Hillegonda Rietveld

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slint interview!

The Decibel Tolls has a nice long interview with Scott Tennent about the 33 1/3 on Slint's Spiderland. Here's a small excerpt:
"The fascinating thing about Spiderland, to me, is how it casts this long shadow backward over their history. Since Slint broke up before Spiderland came out, and only two guys really continued to seriously make music—now we’re basically down to just Pajo—you’re sort of forced to look backward and dig up everything you can about what led to Spiderland. Pajo aside, they don’t have these long careers with deep catalogues. And because everything pre-Spiderland is so… not Spiderland, the album just becomes all the more magical. Who were these guys? What were they thinking? How did they get to that sound? How did they capture such a profound album on tape? Well, now I’ve answered those questions about as best as I think I can… and in many ways the answers make me marvel just as much as the questions."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best of 2010?

Largehearted Boy has started compiling the annual roundup of "best of" lists for the year (very handy for holiday shopping). Even though I haven't heard it yet, I'm willing to bet that the Numero Group Syl Johnson box set would probably get my vote.

How about you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

1 Free Flaming Lips Tshirt

The first person to email me with an Oklahoma mailing address will get a copy of Mark Richardson's Zaireeka 33 1/3 and a free Flaming Lips tshirt. We only have one, and it's a medium. It's from the 2009 March of 1,000 Flaming Skeletons event. It's pink, it's got a skull with lots of lightening bolts, and it's rare.

And it's perfect for wearing to the big Zaireeka event at Booksmart on November 28th.

Email me at xxx with your address and Flaming Lips in the subject line.

That was quick. Congratulations to Chris from OKC! One tshirt + book is on its way...

I used to live three blocks away from Wayne Coyne, in a sketchy part of town, too! We love the Lips here. They're Oklahoma's finest cultural export since Frito Chili Pies.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Major Zaireeka Alert in OK

If you're anywhere near Tulsa, Oklahoma you may well be interested in this forthcoming event:

Hosted by Booksmart Tulsa (among others) it's shaping up to be a pretty mindblowing listening party - special guests, movies, and our own Mark Richardson reading from his tremendous book about the album. There's a facebook page for the event, too. Join up!

And the winner is...

Congratulations to James Brubaker, winner of our "Why I love or Hate AC/DC" contest. James will receive a signed copy of Joe Bonomo's 33 1/3 Highway to Hell and eternal glory. Here is his winning piece:

I hate AC/DC because of my cousin. And because of weddings. And probably because of karaoke, and Atom and His Package, but mostly because of my cousin. And his wedding. My Cousin Steve got married when I was thirteen. This was before the internet, when it was easier for a 13 year old guy to be repressed-as-fuck. I mean, let's face it, it's not like I could watch thousands of minutes of porn a year like kids do today. I was easily shocked. So, anyway, my cousin got married. He was kind of a nerd, but in a frat boy kind of way. At his high school graduation party I watched him and his friends play this game where one of them would lean up against a tree, ass in the air, while the other participants kicked a soccer ball at him. I think the game was called asshole, a variation on horse, where if you missed, you got a letter, and you lost if you were the first person to spell asshole. Anyway, my cousin got married to a woman who was way nicer, and nerdier than him. Not that I dislike my cousin, but, you know. So, when I'm 13, and my cousin is in his 20's, he gets married. This was the first big wedding I'd been to. The wedding itself was long and boring, but the reception was okay. It was kind of bland, too, but the food was good and the DJ played some good songs. Everything was peachy until it was time for Steve to throw the garter. As the ritual began, the DJ started playing some old torch song, Sinatra or something. I was too young to know or care. My cousin eased his new wife into a chair, and then as soon as his knee hit the floor, the DJ pulled the old switch-a-roo, busted out "You Shook Me All Night Long." Instead of reaching up his wife's dress, my cousin stuck his whole head up there, removed the garter with his teeth. That was fucked, man. Have you ever seen your cousin stick his head up his wife's dress and remove her garter with his teeth? That shit stays with you. Until then, I really loved AC/DC. Now when I hear them, "You Shook Me..." specifically, I remember the shock of that moment. So fuck AC/DC. And fuck my cousin, Steve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Song Cycle in The Wire

A cracking review of Richard Henderson's little gem of a book about Van Dyke Parks, in the December issue of The Wire, courtesy of Mike Barnes.

Not sure how legible this image will be, but here's a good quote from the review:

"Parks' early life was truly extraordinary. A musical prodigy and child actor, he appeared alongside the likes of Grace Kelly; later he was a folk guitarist in The Steeltown Two. And by his early twenties he was a sought-after session pianist and arranger. Henderson's research yields many interesting asides, not least when Parks was carol-singing and found himself spontaneously accompanied on violin by one of his neighbourhood's more significant residents, Albert Einstein."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Slint and Radiohead Now Available!

Amazon is finally listing them as available, and your friendly neighborhood independent bookstore should also have copies very soon. Click the links...
Slint's Spiderland by Scott Tennent
Radiohead's Kid A by Marvin Lin

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Understanding Records Mixtape

We received over 40 submissions for our Understanding Records home recording contest earlier this month, which was honestly about 30 more than I expected to receive. I rounded up a panel of judges here in the office--3 males and 4 females, to make sure any latent male rockism was balanced out--and asked them each to pick their top 10 tracks and rank them in order of preference. For each judge's selection, #1 picks received 10 points, #2 picks received 9 points, and so forth on down to #10 picks receiving 1 point. (The excel spreadsheet I made for scoring this was awesome.)

The songs were all very very good, the judges' selections varied far and wide, and the competition was particularly fierce right at the cut-off point. It's worth noting that no song received points from each of the 7 judges, and two judges' #1 picks did not make the cut! We had a tie for the #10 slot, so I've included all 11 winners, plus two bonus tracks: one from Gabi of Stickers, an ex-Continuum employee who copyedited the first 50-odd books in the 33 1/3 series, and one from my own archives.

Each of the winners will receive a copy of Understanding Records plus one 33 1/3 volume of their choice.

1. Killing Time - The Hate My Day Jobs website
2. She's Got a Fu Manchu - Yankee Power facebook / myspace
3. Golden Age - Beat Radio website
4. Plastic Flowers - Economy Class Sunshine myspace
5. Scrambled Eggs - The Conduits website bandcamp
6. Disappear - Paul Roub website
7. Yukon Blues - The Milkweeds website
8. Some Clothing, Some Money, and a Name - The Hotel Comforters website
9. Spinning Wheels - Black Swan Carpentry
10. Reason (demo) - Slopes of Distant Hills (recorded by George Reisch) website
11. Make Believe - Tom Hamill website

Extra CD Tracks:
12. Art School - Stickers myspace
13. Fresh Kills - Sonic Recycling Program geocities closed down a few years ago

Click here to listen online and download individual tracks.

There are a number of excellent songs that that didn't make the final eleven, but will not be deleted from my ipod any time soon. I'd like to encourage anyone who didn't make the list to post a link to their song in the comments field, and I'd like to encourage the rest of you to check them out.

Thank you for the music, everyone. Enjoy!