33 1/3 Series of books

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MY favorite is still Darnielle's Black Sabbath book, despite it being only sort of related to the record. One of the most moving novella's I've ever read. My wife, who has no use for Sabbath at all, also found it quite moving.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm reading the Marquee Moon book right now and it's pretty good, although really it's more about the band's early history way more than the album itself -- I'm like 2/3rds through and it just got to the point where they add "See No Evil" to the setlist -- but since there's probably never going to be a proper biographical book about Television I'm kind of ok with that.

some dude, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

Avoid the Ok Computer one, it's truly sterile.

Thought the Loveless and Low ones were great though.

AnotherDeadHero, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

of the over a dozen i've read, only a few were ones Sick is interested in -- Electric Ladyland and Nation of Millions are really good, Let It Be is really not

some dude, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

The Beatles or The Replacements 'Let it Be'? I'm quite interested in checking out the Replacements one although I understand it's one of those album-inserted-into fictional-tale ones so I'm not sure.

AnotherDeadHero, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

LOW one is brilliant. AJA is probs my fave so far though.

piscesx, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

the 'Mats one is the one Sick and and I were referring to

it's not a work of fiction, just far more autobiographical than about the album itself

some dude, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

I prefer the ones about how they put the album together, the writing and recording process. I'm really not interested in how the author was affected by this album when they were 17.

For example, waiting in line at a record store with Black Francis and watching him peel off the cellophane to what may be the 36th Doolittle CD he's bought and driving around Oregon listening to the tracks, that was a solid 3/5, if not more.

pplains, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

A+: Zoso, Master Of Reality, Sign O The Times
B: Bee Thousand
C-: Forever Changes

Hierophantiasis (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Loveless / Doolittle / In the Aeroplane all really great, really revealing making-of's

OK Computer is terrible.

a parker full of poseys (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

some good ones that iirc delve pretty deeply into the making of the albums: The Who Sell Out, Aja, Nation of Millions, Armed Forces, In Utero, Exile, Double Nickels, Zep IV

some dude, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

Double Nickels is really good, especially when its honest enough to say about "You Need The Glory", "What do you say about two minutes of weird percussion and a guy making nonsense sounds?"

pplains, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

This is how I would rate the one's I have read:

A+
Led Zeppelin IV -Led Zeppelin 1971 Erik Davis
Low - David Bowie 1977 Hugo Wilcken
Master of Reality -Black Sabbath 1971 John Darnielle
Let's Talk About Love -Celine Dion 1997 Carl Wilson

A
Sign “☮” the Times - Prince 1987 Michaelangelo Matos
Use Your Illusion I and II -Guns N' Roses 1991 Eric Weisbard
Aja -Steely Dan 1977 Don Breithaupt

B
Kid A - Radiohead 2000 Marvin Lin

C
Armed Forces -Elvis Costello 1979 Franklin Bruno

F
Let It Be -The Replacements 1984 Colin Meloy

sofatruck, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

Reading Pink Flag made me realize how much I love that record and why, which is as much as I can ask of any of these.

Trip Maker, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Armed Forces -Elvis Costello 1979 Franklin Bruno
huh, i have a friend who highly recommended this one -- not good?

tylerw, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Let It Be and Dusty in Memphis were my least favorites of the fifteen or so I've read.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

Court and Spark is top five.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

i liked the jerry wexler bits of dusty in memphis, but yeah, wasn't crazy about the memoir-y stuff.

tylerw, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

The Who Sell Out is great, as is Amazing Grace (probably the best book on Aretha out there at the moment). Kick Out The Jams isn't bad, but is less about the album and more of a condensed history of the MC5. Kinks Village Green is useful, if spotty and borderline-annoying in places.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

Agreed re: Amazing Grace. Just started Lethem's Fear of Music, which I think might be best understood less as a standalone book and more as a complement to Fortress of Solitude.

Punned Sheerest, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, probably! i just bought that one today as a matter of fact.

tylerw, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

Fear of Music is really good. I would also recommend Lethem's recent book on John Carpenter's They Live which is even better.

Professor Respect, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

tyler fwiw armed forces is probably my favorite (not counting master of reality here because it feels like a totally separate thing)

jesus christ (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 23:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Armed Forces has a unique format, one that just wasn't for me. ymmv.

sofatruck, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

i didn't know there was an aja one, gotta check that out.

Bandersnatch Cumberbund (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 23:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've only read 4, an they were all good to great - still, i did some "research" beforehand (reviews, ILM, etc), so it wasn't like I bought them unknowingly.

20 jazz funk greats - absolutely stunning
let's talk about love
use your illusion I & II
sign o'the times

I was interested in reading the 'aja' one, but I've read some people complaining that it's too focused on the technical side, so...dunno. also, is the 'tusk' one really that bad?

rusty_allen, Thursday, 17 May 2012 01:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

Aja has more technical stuff than most of these books (as it should, tbh) but i don't feel it gets bogged down by that if you're not interested in it, there's also a lot of passion and personality in it.

Armed Forces one is very good but the author probably should've just let the alphabetical organization thing behind in an earlier draft.

some dude, Thursday, 17 May 2012 01:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

Of the ones I've read, 20 Jazz Funk Greats sets the standard. But I haven't gotten to the celebrated Celine Dion yet.

Träumerei, Thursday, 17 May 2012 01:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've had the Celine on a shelf for a couple of years too.

Some I can remember reading from Scik's list:

13 Live at the Apollo -James Brown 1963 Douglas Wolk

This one is just magnificent, great writing and wildly ambitious for the economical space – cramming analysis of the highly-edited album, Brown’s career, development of the songs, actual full-length live takes and wide, wide cultural allusions.

24 Endtroducing..... -DJ Shadow 1996 Eliot Wilder

This is simply one long interview with Shadow, basically a good, uncut Uncut feature rather than either a book or detailed sample-nerdery text.

30 Paul's Boutique -Beastie Boys 1989 Dan Le Roy

REALLY good magazine style piece that leans heavily on interviews with people around the band at the time (aiming to do this more than quote other contemporary journalism), but no contact with the band.

56 Master of Reality -Black Sabbath 1971 John Darnielle

This is an epistolary novella, and is absolutely fantastic. Combines the author’s own life and employment experience with love of the genre to make a short sharp blast of writing about how the record speaks to an important element of its audience.

59 Gentlemen -The Afghan Whigs 1993 Bob Gendron

Way too skimpy – tries to cram a potted biography of the band in, then cover this rich album in too few pages. Not bad as such though – I would totally have read two sequels on Black Love and 1965.

66 One Step Beyond... - Madness 1979 Terry Edwards

Session trumpeter writing from a fan perspective, with a hefty page count. If you have to choose between reading this and watching Take It Or Leave It, the latter probably has more insight.

69 69 Love Songs -The Magnetic Fields 1999 LD Beghtol

Aims to be as arch and genre-playful as the album itself, being largely a glossary of terms, semi-largely a rundown on each song with members and friends of the band, small-ly an interview with Merritt, and minorly a crossword, iirc. Also includes frequent instructions to consult a detailed website for further information, which has been broken for about five of the six years the book has been out.

71 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back -Public Enemy 1988 Christopher R. Weingarten

Really slapdash – has no or almost no contact with any personnel, AFAIR, and so feels more like a 1980s-style cuttings-bio with ambitions. Hey, it’s sampling, maan! The ambitions are largely sampled from other sources, too, though – there’ll be occasional attempts at scraping in wider cultural references like Wolk did (say a several page digression into Wattstax, or something), peripatetic outbursts of cod-Dave-Tompkins, and such. A real letdown coming after that amazing, rich, and so much briefer piece in Wax Poetics.

┗|∵|┓ (sic), Thursday, 17 May 2012 02:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

Can someone give me a thumbnail of why Led Zeppelin IV and Use Your Illusion are so good? I'm not much of a Zeppelin fan and I've never even heard the G'n'R record but I'm assuming from all the recommendations that there's something more to these books.

Get wolves (DL), Thursday, 17 May 2012 09:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

Most of the ones I've read have been good but I'd pick these as my absolute favourites:

10 Sign “☮” the Times - Prince 1987 Michaelangelo Matos
29 In the Aeroplane over the Sea- Neutral Milk Hotel 1998 Kim Cooper
30 Paul's Boutique -Beastie Boys 1989 Dan Le Roy
32 There's a Riot Goin' On -Sly and the Family Stone 1971 Miles Marshall Lewis
36 Loveless -My Bloody Valentine 1991 Mike McGonigal
38 Bee Thousand - Guided by Voices 1994 Marc Woodworth
56 Master of Reality -Black Sabbath 1971 John Darnielle

Anyone read the Beefheart one?

Gavin, Leeds, Thursday, 17 May 2012 09:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

Whoops, meant to include this one too:

71 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back -Public Enemy 1988 Christopher R. Weingarten

Gavin, Leeds, Thursday, 17 May 2012 09:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've ordered Low, Paul's Boutique, and Loveless as a birthday present to myself.

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Thursday, 17 May 2012 11:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've read 50 of the books. Some of my favorites have been mentioned already (Master of Reality, Sign O the Times, Low, Live at the Apollo, In the Aeroplane..., 69 Love Songs). Two others that I really enjoyed, that I don't think have been mentioned - Pretty Hate Machine (great focus on fan culture and understanding fandom) and Exile on Main Street (nothing super revelatory in it, but he does a great job describing the music itself, what it sounds like).

I'm not generally a fan of the straight-ahead 'making of the album' ones, or most of the fiction ones (I did kind of like the Rid of Me one). And often the ones I like the least are about the albums I like the most - Bee Thousand and Swordfishtrombones, especially.

erasingclouds, Thursday, 17 May 2012 14:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

I will rep for the Tribe book, re-read it recently after seeing the film documentary and enjoyed it better second time around.

Dick Move's Wardrobe (MaresNest), Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

20 Jazz Funk Greats is my favourite book on music after Giles Smith's Lost in Music. Otherwise I've only read the Master of Reality one (superb) and the Abba Gold one (not worth more than the 50p it cost me tbh).

Blue Collar Retail Assistant (Dwight Yorke), Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Can someone give me a thumbnail of why Led Zeppelin IV and Use Your Illusion are so good? I'm not much of a Zeppelin fan and I've never even heard the G'n'R record but I'm assuming from all the recommendations that there's something more to these books.

Not sure how familiar you are with Erik Davis' work, but he writes a lot about pop mysticism. His book on Zep IV isn't really about the band at all (thankfully), but about how the album has become a talisman of low-brow occult symbology. It's also howlingly funny.

The book on Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is great because it side-steps the obligatory "Syd was crazy you know" stories for a pretty detailed analysis of how the album was put together.

Vini Reilly Invasion (Elvis Telecom), Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Least favorite book of all is the Murmur one. Frustratingly so too... Just could not get engaged with the writing at all.

Vini Reilly Invasion (Elvis Telecom), Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah i liked the piper one -- some good interviews w/ people around the periphery of the floyd scene of that time.

tylerw, Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

The latest list has been narrowed down to 94 potential titles:

http://33third.blogspot.com/2012/06/94.html

Position Position, Friday, 1 June 2012 17:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

Diamanda Galas Malediction and Prayer

haaa, unless they've got a ringer for this one, we've got a new contender for lowest selling 33 1/3.

tylerw, Friday, 1 June 2012 17:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

Either it's a typo, or 2112 simply cannot be contained in a single volume. I'm betting the latter.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 1 June 2012 17:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Fingers crossed for Replicas, Wee Tam and Beauty & The Beat!

but he go's to a resturang and then die in a toilet (Jon Lewis), Friday, 1 June 2012 17:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

There were multiple proposals for 2112. Maybe they haven't decided which way to go.

EZ Snappin, Friday, 1 June 2012 18:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Diamanda Galas Malediction and Prayer

haaa, unless they've got a ringer for this one, we've got a new contender for lowest selling 33 1/3.

and this one : Nocturnal Emissions Spiritflesh

rusty_allen, Friday, 1 June 2012 18:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

i like that nocturnal emissions album. its a good one.

scott seward, Friday, 1 June 2012 18:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

Nocturnal Emissions: Spiritflesh by Stephen King

tylerw, Friday, 1 June 2012 18:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

jesus, arular already?

jump them into a gang - into the absurd (forksclovetofu), Friday, 1 June 2012 19:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

I looove that Nocturnal Emissions record, one of my favorites of theirs.

sleeve, Friday, 1 June 2012 19:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

Can anyone rep for the Master of Reality tome?

calstars, Friday, 1 June 2012 19:56 (2 years ago) Permalink


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