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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Live in London? Like Kraftwerk? Check this out....

The Wire Salon will be hosting an event at Cafe Oto in honor of Sean Albeiz and David Pattie's new Kraftwerk book. Details Below from cafe OTO

TUESDAY 15th March 2011

Door Times : 8pm
£4 on the door

Kraftwerk: Music Non-Stop is a new collection of essays that analyses the concepts and music of one of the most enigmatic and influential groups of the 20th and 21st centuries.

For this edition of The Wire Salon, Music Non-Stop's co-editors Sean Albiez and David Pattie will draw together several of the themes introduced in the book, offering a variety of new perspectives on Kraftwerk's unique synthesis of music, technology, visual iconography and performance into a finely honed Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork).

The two-handed talk/presentation/performance will explore multiple aspects of the Kraftwerk project, from the group's complex relationship with the German national identity to its apparent embrace of a pan-European sensibility, from its liminal status on the cusp of pop/art to its profound and continuing influence on the global electronic music network.

The talk will be illustrated by selected audio and visual clips.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Henry Rollins, Punk

S.X. Rosenstock has a good piece on the Huffington Post about Henry Rollins, who turned 50 a few days ago. Here's an extract:

"Henry Rollins stalks the earth. Tibet. Uganda. Mongolia. North Korea. The Costco in Burbank. He pounced onto the stage at LA's Largo to demonstrate relentless curiosity about the world and concern for it as he performed the first in a series of spoken word shows celebrating his fiftieth birthday. Hardcore/punk is a bell he can't unring. It is a mandate impossible to live, and a goad toward constant confrontation he can't ignore. Confrontation has been his lifestyle. At fifty it is his legacy."

But of course the part that really jumped out at me was this one:

"All over LA and Orange Counties people are stuck in traffic and worried about their immediate and long-term futures. It is funny how listening to the punk music that was born in So Cal helps the helplessness because punk as a movement has been proved to have died almost before it began. (I'm obsessed with Nicholas Rombes' amazing book, A Cultural Dictionary of Punk from Continuum Books, and carry it everywhere.)"

If you haven't dipped your punkie toe into Rombes' book yet, please do so by clicking on the "preview" button on our website here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fleetwood Mac's Tusk

We're very pleased to announce that the volume in the series about Tusk is now widely available.

Here's what it says on the back of the book:

After Rumours became the best-selling single album of all-time, Fleetwood Mac asked Warner Brothers Records to buy them a studio (the label refused, costing both Warner Brothers and the band significant cash in the long run) and then handed the reins to their guitarist and resident perfectionist Lindsey Buckingham. “You know,” Buckingham told me, “we had this ridiculous success with Rumours. We were poised to do another album, and I guess because the axiom ‘If it works, run it into the ground’ was prevalent then, we were probably poised to do Rumours II. I don’t know how you do that, but somehow my light bulb that went off was, ‘Let’s just not do that. Let’s very pointedly not do that.’ ”

Here, Rob Trucks talks to Lindsey Buckingham, as well as members of Animal Collective, Camper Van Beethoven, the New Pornographers, Wolf Parade, and the USC Trojan marching band in order to chart both the story and the impact of an album born of personal obsession and a stubborn unwillingness to compromise.

Rob Trucks lives and obsesses in Long Island City, New York.

And here's a taste of what's inside the book:

Perhaps artists were merely gearing up for the Reagan years, but something about the late ’70s made successful creative-types spring headlong from triumph into the pool of excess.

Following the critical and commercial achievement of The Godfather: Part II, Francis Ford Coppola overextended cast, crew, and budget in the jungles of the Philippines to make Apocalypse Now. The cost of production, including a not insubstantial infusion from Coppola himself, ran to nearly $40 million, the most expensive movie ever made (at the time).

After Rumours becomes a generational touchstone, Fleetwood Mac custom-built a studio and handed the reins to Lindsey Buckingham, a fusion of factors that led Tusk to become the first record in history to cross the million-dollar threshold in production costs.

When I take a song into Fleetwood Mac . . . I mean, it certainly wasn’t like that on Tusk, but most of the time it was a fairly conventional thing. You’d have to pretty much have it worked out for the group to respond to. The changes that get made and the way band involves themselves in it are all fairly conscious. It’s like Point A to Point B. It’s like making a movie probably. You talk about it. No, let’s shoot it this way and then you shoot it and you run the tape and you play.

—Lindsey Buckingham, October 11, 2006

Like Godfather II, Michael Cimino’s Deer Hunter succeeds by all measures. Both films finish among the top ten in gross for their respective years. Both win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Cimino moves on to Heaven’s Gate, which eclipses Apocalypse Now as the most expensive film ever produced, and single- handedly bankrupts the United Artists studio.

You could do a similar comparison/contrast with Tusk and Heaven’s Gate, with Buckingham and Cimino, but Tusk, though expensive, didn’t bankrupt Warner Brothers.

In fact, Tusk, a now legendary commercial failure, made money...

...Actually, Tusk lies somewhere in between.

Apocalypse Now, while branded for ever and all time as egoistically excessive, is, nevertheless, a success. Both commercially and critically, against any and all measures save for outsized expectations and comparisons with Coppola’s previous work.

Heaven’s Gate is a disappointment by almost every yardstick and stands today as an example of how not to make a movie.

And though Tusk is ultimately profitable, no album in music history falls so precipitously from commercial grace.

Consensus sales figures total 4 million for Tusk (it most recently certified as double platinum all the way back in 1984). Consensus sales figures cluster at 23 million for Rumours (it had sold 12 million copies by 1984 and picks up another million in sales every three to five years).

Regardless of the set of numbers used, Rumours to Tusk represents the largest drop from one album to the next. Ever.

Even Hootie and the Blowfish sold 3 million copies of their sequel to Cracked Rear View (#16 all time). So did Alanis Morrissette’s follow-up to Jagged Little Pill (#20 all time).

And neither Cracked nor Jagged came close to the sales of Rumours.

The music business has changed. No record in the future, at least in any currently known format, will ever sell 20 million copies, which makes a competing collapse impossible.

The Rumours to Tusk nosedive is a fall that will stand forever.

The music business has changed. The 4 million copies of Tusk which represent the groundside of the drop from dizzying heights would now qualify as the best-selling album of the year.

You make a decision to work outside. Here’s where everyone else is and you want to be over here. That’s your decision. If you see it and you feel it and it’s a vision you have, you have the choice to move towards it or not, and at that point it’s not really so much about everybody else, only in the sense that you don’t have a support system. You have to be your own support system. You have to keep patting yourself on the back and having the balls to keep, you know, sort of believing.

—Lindsey Buckingham, October 11, 2006

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Jesse Eisenberg likes Ween...and somehow the world is shocked by this?

Hot dork extraordinaire, Jesse Eisenberg, has claimed his affection for Ween and our very own 33 1/3 author, Hank Shteamer was there to report it! The whole interview, featured in Spin, can be found here. Eisenberg first heard Chocolate and Cheese when a friend offered the song "Spinal Meningitis" as preparation/comic relief for a role. That was just the beginning of his affection for the iconic album with the boundary-pushing cover. This news is so huge that New York Magazine picked up the story too.

Hank Shteamer’s 33 1/3 on Chocolate and Cheese will be available March 17, check it out on Continuum's site or pre-order from Amazon.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cleaning out the bookmarks menu...

Pitchfork's Poptimist column recently had some very nice things to say about Geeta Dayal's 33 1/3 on Brian Eno's Another Green World:

Released as part of Continuum Books' 33 1/3 series on classic albums, the book mostly sidesteps the finished LP to make the process the hero. Eno's use of collaboration, chance, and cybernetics to force creativity makes for a fascinating story, enlivened by the sometimes bemused but always fond recollections of participants from the 70s and after. He swings microphones from the ceiling, he scraps whole days' work on the turn of a card, and in the book's most delicious story, he makes David Bowie's sessionmen take part in a musical role-playing session, handing out character cards. "You are the morale booster of a small rag-tag terrorist operation. You must keep spirits up at all costs."

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The KEXP blog interviews Scott Tennent about his 33 1/3 on Slint's Spiderland. I had forgotten that this was the 75th in the series... A nice round number and a damn fine book!

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I've been addicted to these Marc Maron podcasts since my flight back from the Christmas break turned into a rather fun 20 hour road trip. This one with Henry Rollins is pretty great. If you're a fan, this one with Ira Glass is not to be missed. The conversation with Gallagher was kind of depressing, though.

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I've been slowly working my way through this year-by-year essay series on the 90's alternative music from The Onion's AV Club.

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If you like infographics, A Very Small Array continues to work through the Billboard/Pitchfork top 100s of 2010. Pie graphs, bar charts, scatter plots...there's something for everyone here.

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Hua Hsu has a pretty cool consideration of the cassette tape as a format/medium/aesthetic in the latest issue of Artforum. (A tip of the cap to Ed Park for the link.)

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And one more defaced album covers link to add to the two I posted here a few weeks ago. This never seems to get old, does it?

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Next week I'll be at the College Arts Association (CAA) meeting in New York, hanging out in the exhibit hall Thursday-Saturday. Stop by booth #714 and say hello.