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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bono & Steve Catanzarite's 33 1/3 on Achtung Baby

For certain volumes in the series, it is not unfathomable for the author to get to meet their book's subjects. But for artists at a certain echelon of fame...well, you just don't expect it to happen. Here's the story of one of those unlikely meetings from Stephen Catanzarite, author of the 33 1/3 on U2's Achtung Baby.
"Standing backstage less than a half-hour before U2 hit the stage in Pittsburgh, writer and FOB (Friend of Bono) Neil McCormick presented Bono with a copy of "Achtung Baby: Meditations on Love in the Shadow of the Fall." Neil is a fan of the book and had offered to get a copy to the man himself. It took him two years -- he wanted to make sure the timing was right. He certainly delivered. U2 is set to release a 20th anniversary box set of "Achtung Baby" later this year, and the band has been playing several tracks from the album on its massive 360 Tour. He also scored the author with a private meeting with the legendary singer. Neil told Bono of the premise of the book: "Stephen says your album is really about the Fall of Man." Bono nodded and said "That's right, it is." He then turned to me and said "Do you know what we were going to call the album?" "Sure, 'Adam'," I replied, to which the superstar laughed and said "You're good, man." He took a copy with him, but also signed a copy for my wife. McCormick also told Bono of my theorizing of a "conservative voice" in the songs of U2. "You're a statesman in the same mold as your fellow Dubliner Edmund Burke" I said, to which Bono replied "Well, thanks -- that puts me in fantastic company."

Music writer Neil McCormick presenting Bono with a copy of the 33 1/3 volume on "Achtung Baby" as author Stephen Catanzarite looks on.

Bono and 33 1/3 author Stephen Catanzarite, taken backstage at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh.

Bono's imprimatur on the 33 1/3's "Achtung Baby" (inscribed to the author's wife).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Odds and ends...

Our friends at WNYC's On The Media briefly discuss the volumes on Paul's Boutique and It Takes A Nation of Millions and conclude that "it seems like absolutely no one likes Russell Simmons." [The weekly staff picks on the blog are well worth checking out. Actually, everything about that show is worth checking out. Highly entertaining.]

The blog Psychobabble has some very nice things to say about the volume on Marquee Moon:
[Waterman's] book serves as a well-researched biography of the band’s earliest days, which means it tells the portion of Television’s story that will most interest fans...Compact yet comprehensive, Bryan Waterman’s Marquee Moon crams a lot of interesting information and insights onto its 211 tiny pages.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pretty Hate Machine / Song Cycle

I've got two very nice items to share with you today:

The first is a fantastic review of Richard Henderson's volume on Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle from Crawdaddy.
"Henderson’s impeccably researched volume tells the story of a young vagabond landing in Los Angeles and falling in with an elite circuit of musicians and intellectuals. Henderson traces Van Dyke Parks’ climb through Warner Brothers Records’ ranks, from a low-rung arranger to top-shelf solo artist with seemingly unlimited resources. ...Like The Rest Is Noise author Alex Ross’ ability to make dense topics accessible, Richard Henderson excels at embracing the technical innards of music in a universally fascinating manner."
The second is this fascinating in-depth interview with Daphne Carr from the KEXP blog about her volume on Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine (and much more). It's very very good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiny Music Makers

From way back in 2005, here are some nice pocket histories of five short but ubiquitous songs, if you could call them that, in the words of their composers (Apple start up chord, THX sound, Microsoft sound, etc.)
"He had developed what is now called the THX sound system. It was to premiere with Lucasfilm's "Return of the Jedi." They were making a logo to go before the film. I was asked by the producer of the logo piece to do the sound. He said he wanted "something that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big!" I allowed as to how I figured I could do something like that."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some recent reviews...

Brian Eno’s Another Green World by Geeta Dayal was selected by Flavorwire as one of “10 Great Books about Music by Female Writers

Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love by Carl Wilson (“Erudite and eye-opening”) and John Darnielle's volume on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality were both reviewed as part of Pitchfork’s “Our 60 Favorite Music Books” feature. Here's a quote from the Sabbath review:
“Darnielle-- who worked as a nurse in a mental hospital and presumably met quite a few smart, lost kids like Roger-- speaks to the soul-damaging aspects of locking up problem teens and offers a piece of music criticism that illuminates the edifying qualities of heavy metal.”
Bryan Waterman's volume on Television’s Marquee Moon was reviewed on Crawdaddy!:
“Waterman [has done] extensive research, culling from NYU’s archive of Richard Hell’s papers, rock journalist reviews from the era (Christgau, Bangs, Kent, et al.), and extensive interviews, making sure to maintain the composure of an academic thesis, and not a fan boy rag.”
A review also appeared in This Ain't The Summer of Love:
"Fans of the band should consider "Marquee Moon" as required reading. The book will also be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of anyone who is seriously interested in the history of the CBGB scene and the early-mid 70's era musical and artistic landscape of New York City as a whole."
And Bryan was also interviewed by Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

And last but not least, Tony Toth Yost Tost's volume on Johnny Cash’s American Recordings was reviewed in the Milwaukee Express
“Tost is like a foster son of Greil Marcus, beating his own path into old, weird America through the life of the Man in Black.”
As the summer kicks into full gear, I would do well to remind you of the wonderful podcast that is Tony Tost's America (also findable and free in the itunes store). Seems to go well with heat and dust.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nation in Love with Girl from Record Store

One of my all-time favourite Onion stories, from June 2001...

"[Metzler] works at the coolest record store in Athens, and she's totally up on all the latest stuff," said Ryan Griggs, 48, a television repairman from Salem, OR. "You have no idea how many people go in there every day and buy some obscure Go-Betweens B-sides collection or the latest Stephin Merritt side project just to try to impress her."

Guest Blog: Scott Tennent on pre-Slint band Maurice

Maurice (Pre-Slint) Demos Now Available

If you've read my book on Spiderland, you know that one of my main arguments in the opening chapter is that the significance of Squirrel Bait in the pre-Slint soup is somewhat overstated, considering David Grubbs wrote the majority of that band's music and lyrics and that Brian McMahan and Britt Walford were not really in the band at the same time. But there's a recorded documentation of Squirrel Bait and all those names are in the liner notes, so there you go. Rather, in my interviews for the book, it was made pretty clear to me that another band had a much more direct tie to Slint: Maurice...

Linkage to the full post: http://prettygoeswithpretty.typepad.com/pgwp/2011/07/maurice-pre-slint-demos-now-available.html

David Pajo has made the full demos available on his bandcamp page: http://music.davidpajo.com/releases


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Cash / Clash

A little reminder that Tony Tost will be talking about his 33 1/3 on Johnny Cash's American Recordings at Ravenna Third Place in Seattle TONIGHT, July 7th at 7pm.
[Mnemonic: 7/7 at 7.]

You can read an excerpt from Tony's book in the Arkansas Times here.

It's also worth pointing out that the Cash book, Rolling Stones Some Girls, Television's Marquee Moon, and Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me are all available in Kindle format now, along with 50-odd other titles in the series.

And now for something completely different: Clash Magazine has a cover story on New Order's 30th anniversary, and here's a little piece on the designer's approach to the cover art concept. Pretty cool.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Seattle: Johnny Cash Event, Thursday July 7th

News on Tony Tost's excellent book about American Recordings...

First up, if you're in and around Seattle, please do stop by Ravenna Third Place Books this Thursday (July 7th) to hear Tony reading from and discussing his book - it kicks off at 7pm. Further details can be found here.

You can also read reviews of Tony's book:

In TinyMixTapes here

In the Nashville City Paper here

and in the Sun Post Weekly here