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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How To Sell Records Like The Smiths

Some sage words for the music industry from our friend Mike Fournier:

"So the irony of the holiday season is pretty heavy (and tasty). In 2011 the model that could have kept the industry afloat is sitting right in front of us in the few record stores that are left, repackaged in a shiny new box for the holidays:

The Smiths.

I'm serious."

Friday, December 09, 2011

Oxford American Music Issue

It's Oxford American Music Issue Day here at the office, as we just got our copy in the mail (better late than never). A quick count of Continuum authors in the table of contents yields the following:

David Kirby (Little Richard) on Bo Diddley
Michael T. Fournier (The Minutemen) on Hayden Thompson
Megan Mayhew Bergman & Kate Schatz (PJ Harvey) on The International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Nicholas Rombes (The Ramones, A Cultural Dictionary of Punk) on Henry Green
LD Beghtol (Magnetic Fields) on Southern food.
Plus a review of Richard Henderson's 33 1/3 on Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle.

Not to mention Mark Winegardner on Syl Johnson, Peter Guralnick on Howlin' Wolf, Oliver Wang on Charles Wright, and pieces by Roseanne Cash, Jack Pendarvis, Roy Blount, Jr, Nick Hornby... the list goes on.

Now that I've read the table of contents to you, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

R&R Hall of Fame Inductees

Generally, I take this sort of thing with a grain of salt, but there's not too much to argue about here.

Here's some worthwhile reading on two of the inductees:

You might also check out some of the full bios of the lesser-known (but no less fascinating) inductees. For example, Tom Dowd... or Cosimo Matassa.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Aretha reviewed in the New York Times

NOT BAD! We'll take it!

By Aaron Cohen.
Continuum, paper, $12.95.

As with all the books in Continuum’s 33· series, this one looks at a single album — in this case, Aretha Franklin’s 1972 live gospel set, “Amazing Grace,” which Cohen (an associate editor at DownBeat) argues is her “artistic peak.” That’s no small claim, and to back it up Cohen uses one of the more dogged, simple and effective approaches in the series: sit down, cue up the music and expound on an album’s merits, cut by cut, while bringing in choice factoids, testimonies and eyewitness accounts. Of course, Cohen’s palpable wonder regarding Franklin’s legendary foray into gospel music helps the cause, but his enthusiasm never undercuts his judicious accounts of how a given track functions, and what made Franklin’s methodology so different from that of any other soul singer turned church musician (or, in Franklin’s case, church musician turned soul singer turned church musician). The detective work is formidable as well, and invaluable, given that “Amazing Grace” owed almost as much of its success to its behind-the-scenes players as it did to Franklin. Cohen calls the recording team “as unique as the situation,” and there’s an impressive breakdown of what went on in postproduction, which sometimes reads like a mash-up of biblical citations and digital patois: “The sermonette is cut and pasted together so that the New Testament tale is sandwiched between the Exodus parts.” Aretha completists and neophytes alike will have reason to take to bended knee in gratitude for Cohen’s delineation of the differences between the original album and the bells-and-whistles reissue.

Nick Rombes in the Oxford American

The author of the Ramones 33 1/3 has a wonderful piece in the Southern Music Issue of the Oxford American, http://oxfordamerican.org/articles/issues/latest_issue/ on obscure Mississippi bluesman Henry Green.