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

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Chosen Eleven

Six months and one week after we started this process, I'm very pleased to announce that we've - finally - selected the proposals that will become books in the series during 2010 and 2011. They are, in no particular order:

Portishead's Dummy, by RJ Wheaton
Johnny Cash's American Recordings, by Tony Tost
Television's Marquee Moon, by Bryan Waterman
Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, by Gina Arnold
AC/DC's Highway to Hell, by Joe Bonomo
Ween's Chocolate and Cheese, by Hank Shteamer
Radiohead's Kid A, by Marvin Lin
Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me, by Nick Attfield
Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace, by Aaron Cohen
Slint's Spiderland, by Scott Tennent
The Rolling Stones' Some Girls, by Cyrus Patell

I really wish we could have signed up closer to 20 titles, as was the original idea, but in the current climate we at Continuum - like most other publishing houses - have to be a little careful.

Anyhow, a huge Thank You to everybody who participated in this process, whether by sending in a proposal or by voicing your opinions on this blog. It was fun, exhausting, wonderful, infuriating, educational, and mindboggling in equal parts.

(And let me be the first to point out that, yes, the Portishead proposal wasn't on the final shortlist. I changed my mind on that one, late in the day.)


scott (the other one) said...

These look awesome. I'm especially looking forward to the Cash, Television and Slint volumes although, really, they all sound great.

borneman said...

i like the look of this list

it's a huge and difficult project

these look promising

Nik said...

Kudos for all your hard work, before the whingers get in here and start talking about how you "sold out." I'm particularly psyched by the Portishead, Television, Johnny Cash and Liz Phair books. And Kid A! Great to do Radiohead over, as the OK Computer book is one of my least favorites.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the sum total of ONE female author. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I'm most excited about Portishead, Cash and Television, but I'm pretty surprised the Cramps didn't make it. Good list though

Anonymous said...

One female author, no hip-hop, a fairly safe, nondescript list necessitated by prevailing economic conditions...There's gonna be a lot of complaints over this one.

Really upset Colossal Youth didn't make it, but that one was a longshot. As it stands, there's a couple of these that I might read if the treatment's interesting, but nothing I'm really excited about. Marquee Moon's a favorite of mine, so I'll probably check that one out, but that feels more like a duty than anything.

Anonymous said...

Yes PORTISHEAD is back! I'm so happy you changed your mind. I'll get Johnny Cash and AC/DC ones maybe a few others but Postishead WOW! I can't wait for that.

bobblog said...

Not a bad selection at all! - im curious about the ween one.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's both exciting and depressing that Gina Arnold made it onto the list. I'm not quite sure how people can compete with a published author whose book on punk I could pick up at my local library but congrats nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

The more I research these people, the more I realize how stacked the competition was. A NYU professor (or maybe two), a frequently published poet, two authors of books, and the E-I-C of a major indie music site. Also, apparently a blog is prerequisite. Hmm...

Anonymous said...

really excited about liz phair! though yes, sad that there is only one lady writer on this list, and only three albums by women.

METAAAAL! Fucken METAL dude said...

Metal is losing here! No KISS book is a huge bummer. (yes, they are metal). Don't let the team down Bonomo!

Anonymous said...

oh commenting hordes, don't be such naifs. "books you can get at the library" = shitty namedropping books that are out of print written by a HACK "journalist" whose wiki entry even cites her complete inaccuracies in print! I bet her take on Liz Phair will be masturbatory at best. That book has so much potential. Really disappointing. the ONE female writer. It's fucking insulting.

Anonymous said...

Ah, music writers: such a supportive crowd!

Bort said...

Booo. I want Different Class. Actually, the story behind This Is Hardcore is probably more interesting. Coke, nervous breakdowns, self-sabotage for the win.

1313 Music Blog said...

A pretty solid list--not my favorite of the 'new batches' over the last couple of years, but I'm excited about Dinosaur Jr., Liz Phair and Television, and depending on my my mood Kid A, Portishead, Aretha Franklin and Slint might wind up in my collection.

All in all, based only on albums, pretty good.

Anonymous said...

yo, "commenting hordes...," i think you're missing the fact that she's got that book and thus she's on a higher echelon (at least in terms of a fanbase) than myself and probably you (even if i don't know who you are). hack or no hack, she's got a contract to write about a subject and that is something admirable/enviable. amidst the armies of people masturbating and pontificating in their blogs, she is making a living to professionally do the aforementioned in print.

also, who gives a shit about female vs non-female writers? are we going to have to start identifying races, too? will we need to make sure each writer represents a minority (sort of like the planeteers), or can we go back to judging the writers based on their individual talents and not how they fit into a demographic?


a minority

Anonymous said...

also, winning writers, i ask that a couple of you please post your accepted proposals somewhere so we can get an idea of the competition the rejected were facing. you were the victors fair and square, and it'd be great (no sarcasm) to see what you did so well. congrats.

John Kenyon said...

Are people really complaining that established writers with blogs were among those selected? It seems as if someone with a track record and a blog could:

a) come up with a pretty good proposal.
b) display the chops to pull it off.
c) prove that they are dependable and can work with an editor and on deadline.
d) have a built-in forum to promote the book.

Kudos to David and everyone involved. It looks like another great list.

Grace P. said...

Wow, these all look really interesting. Maybe with the exception of Portishead. But that's probably just the way my personal tastes run.

And the comments about the male/female ratio are really juvenile. If the books were chosen by age/gender/race of the authors, the series would be in sad sad shape.

A 33 1/3 Supporter said...

I think it's hilarious that authors-who-write-books (and popular music scholars, and music journalists) are perceived as unfair competition to the vocal minority of rejected applicants.

Three cheers to David for convincing Continuum to stick with the series through these tough times (publishing is falling to pieces recession or not).

Anonymous said...

Looks like a decent enough list to me. I'm of course disappointed that a couple of proposals didn't make it (my own included), but I will definitely pick up a few of these I'm sure. And I'm just glad that the series is continuing despite the economic climate.

And yes, the complaints that the selected authors are mostly established music journalists/bloggers is ridiculous. Who else did you expect they'd be? In other breaking news, people with law degrees are more likely to get jobs at law firms.

hickcity said...

I would have preferred, in order:

Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
The Cramps - Songs the Lord Taught Us
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
White Stripes - White Blood Cells

Which might have required dropping, in my opinion:

Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, by Gina Arnold
AC/DC's Highway to Hell, by Joe Bonomo
Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace, by Aaron Cohen
The Rolling Stones' Some Girls, by Cyrus Patell

The White Stripes book probably would have exposed the series to many more new buyers, should a proposal drop out - but it's still my 4th replacement pick. YMG not making it is a drag, btw. (66 series books purchased + both anthologies, zero proposals.)

However, I will buy and read 'em all. What is coming up next in the series pipeline now that NAS and Big Star are done?

Anonymous said...

I second the above call for some of the selected authors to post their proposals for the rest of us can see an example of something that got chosen.

Maybe even posting a couple on this site would work?

Anonymous said...

Excellent selection. Shame there couldn't be more, but I feel they've taken the best of the 28 or so they had left (and no, I'm not one of the writers chosen). Alternatively, read "Digimodernism" when it comes out (very soon).

Anonymous said...

Portishead, Radiohead, Cash, Television? This looks like an awesome set of releases.

Anonymous said...



This is such an old man's club.

Dan said...

I'm pretty excited. Good luck everyone! May you take less time to write your books than I have taken to write mine!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

rejected white stripes proposal over at


Anonymous said...

FYI, the Cramps book was accepted and a contract was offered.. I know the author, a fairly well-known NY writer, but since he wrote the proposal almost six months ago he has other commitments and had to decline, although I know he still wants to do it. I guess in this crowd he's earned bragging rights, too.

Anonymous said...

Well... that's one mediocre list, just typical stuff, with the exception of Cash...

Portishead - good album, but meh
Cash - awesome
Marquee Moon - such a safe choice
Exile in Guyville - again, meh, whatever
AC/DC - REALLY meh...
Chocolate and Cheese - Why?!...
Kid A - unecessary
Dinosaur Jr. - alright I guess, it'll sell
Aretha - whatever, meh
Slint - great record, maybe not such a bad choice
Stones - meh meh meh meh, at least it's their best record, but... meh

33 1/3 needs to do some more books on 2000s albums. The White Stripes? Sigur Ros? Any e mo bands at all? The Cash album is the only exciting boom on the list, and it's the only 2000s one too. Classic rock/'90s rock is COVERED already

Anonymous said...

re: comment above:

i'm glad you gave birth to music.

the people who comment here are so bitter and arrogant it's almost funny.

also, i think johnny cash is MEH but more power to the person who got the contract. different people like different things genius.

Greg Polard said...

Stoked on the Dino Jr and AC/DC ones especially! Still wish Larry Livermore's OP IVY proposal went through though, maybe next time?

Anonymous said...

"i'm glad you gave birth to music."

Yeah, I was in a bad mood. I just think they're all so SAFE.

Anonymous said...

johnny cash is pretty safe--but you still think it's awesome, right?

Anonymous said...

Just looked at The White Stripes rejected proposal and I'm even more disappointed now. The proposal could have been more a little bit more focus but it still sounds great to me. 33 1/3 need some more books on 2000's albums you got Kid A but you all ready got a Radiohead book. Can't you change your mind about The White Stripes' White Blood Cells, David???

KnownUnknown said...

Hats off to all involved in this excellent series of books. I've enjoyed Low, Doolitle, Unknown Pleasures and Endtroducing so far.

Marquee Moon is a great choice and a top five album of mine. May i suggest a couple: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. It was so far ahead of its time it's hard to believe it's nearly 30 years old.
The other one would be Trans-Europe Express, but getting to interview Ralf and Florian would be the major stumbling block.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for the ween.

Anonymous said...

ONE TOKEN BLACK ARTIST, followed by a bunch of indie-ish dreck, yawn, why should I or anybody else have any desire to keep reading this very predictable WASPY, Anglo-Saxon, 'no music in the world exists except tortured skinny white boys in garages with out of tune guitars' type stuff?

Oh, I forgot...you have a gaggle of tortured lit majors at major college along with a flock of underemployed slackers who still think its 1991 and they're Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites! You guys will do fine!

nathan said...

there's no wipers on that list.
youth of america

Anonymous said...

CONFIDENTIAL to the person who said Thanks for the Ween. Isn't the point of this operation to sell books?

Here's a thought: it's a lot easier to sell 2,500 copies of a book about an album that sold a million than it is to sell 20 copies of a book about a shitty band that hasn't sold a million records in its career.

Oh, but yeah, Ween is great.

Anonymous said...

Zen Arcade.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Barker & Co.,

Keep up the great work! Glad to see the series is surviving!

James said...

I've been looking around the blog, and I'm not seeing it anywhere, so I might as well look like an idiot publicly. How/where do you send a proposal for the next round?

Matthew! said...

Lots of people complaining about a lack of female authors in the upcoming series, (less frequently) a lack of black authors, and in some cases totally honing in on the specific social demographic represented, seem to be unaware that they've answered their own query. Is it not obvious that, for better or worse, the kind of people interested in reading - and especially writing - books which obsessively nit-pick over individual 'classic' LPs are going to be overwhelmingly white, male, and college-educated?

Of course we'd all like to see a more diverse pick of writers. But I would expect (and I would love anyone involved in the series to correct me) that the majority of submissions are from just that demographic. The responsibility of the editor(s) is to choose the most interesting, well-written and of course saleable contributions. To choose an eleven based on proportional representation of personal qualities that are fundamentally irrelevant to the process (and rightly so) would be counter-intuitive.

How many Catholic authors are there on the list? How many gay or lesbian? Does it matter if there are none?

This is not an anti-PC rant, just an appeal to the common sense of fellow posters to realise that, if there is a lack of (for example) female writers on the list, it might be nothing to do with sexism on the editor's part and everything to do with the ratio of male-to-female submissions.

Anyway, great series, roll on.

Anonymous said...

The choice of "Amazing Grace" is interesting.
I would have selected "Young, Gifted and Black"
Can't wait to read.

Anonymous said...

No Metallica? Someone should write about Master of Puppets.

Art said...

I agree, I'm glad to see Kid A make an appearance. The OK Computer book is one of my least favourites- it reminds me of what I hated most about grad school.

I'm sure some loved it, but wow, one of the first jobs of an author is to decide who your audience is. I'm not sure who the intended audience is but it isn't me- even though I love some of the other books on albums I'm not a big fan of.