33 1/3 Series of books

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Warning: no cultural heft.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:31 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yes let's defensively turn that into a silly meme disregarding my larger point.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

sneering at a series of books that do the same as "dull and unambitious."

this is absurd, too. any criticism or questioning when it's from the other side is obviously sneering isn't it, michaelangelo?

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:40 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Tim, I work on a regular basis with grad students in a similar situation to you, married with kids, huge projects, dealing with all sorts of stuff eating up their time. And I can say, quite frankly, that if I was talking with one of them and they used being as an excuse for dismissing someone's work out of hand as being 'dull and unambitious' without having read it, I'd think they were full of it.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ok for fifth time now, I AM NOT DISMISSING ANYONE'S WORK. i thought the idea for the series was dull. if anyone produced a truly great book in the context then yay.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

if you could stop dismissing everyone's work, that would be cool, too

RoxyMuzak┬ę (roxymuzak), Saturday, 16 September 2006 22:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink

ooh, DRAMA. (this is juicy).

Wrinklepossum's Awesome Blossom (Wrinklepaws), Saturday, 16 September 2006 23:57 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I just thought it was strange, and inconsistent, to have a series of short books dedicated to a very specific subject and wind up with some of them not being about the subject at all!

An anthology like Stranded ismore about the writers and their choices where the 33 1/3 series just by looking at the format is nominally about the albums. Maybe the pay is so low for 33 1/3 and you don't get royalities so you basically can write whatever you want ;-) But I like listening to albums way more than reading about em so take this with an extra shaker of salt.

m coleman (lovebug starski), Sunday, 17 September 2006 01:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"I just thought it was strange, and inconsistent, to have a series of short books dedicated to a very specific subject and wind up with some of them not being about the subject at all!"

why so strange!? there are so many ways to approach a subject.

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 17 September 2006 01:32 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I mean, all these albums are kinda garbagey, really

I feel bad about saying this ;'-(

I just think there's an inherent trashiness to pop music and it's there regardless of how massive something ends up being. So that's a part of why canonizing in pop music literature (and certainly this book series is hardly the worst offender) feels stodgy to me. Naturally, the conservatism of a lot of canonizing in the literature is the most annoying part.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Sunday, 17 September 2006 02:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink


maybe I'm being too literal-minded here, or just playing armchair editor again. but I sense a big disconnect between the tight editorial focus of the series overall and the apparently discursive and/or digressive approach taken by some writers. and I'm not saying those individual books don't work, hey I haven't read em either, I'm trying to make a bigger point about rock criticism or music writing or whatever you want to call it (saddle up hobby horse). After 25 plus years of reading (and writing) this stuff I've decided the Lester Bangs and Greil Marcus style/tradition of "ambitious" or adventurous music writing is exhausted, a dead end that stops writers from developing and frightens off many smart readers.

maybe this is a product of being a music critic for many years while remaining kinda ignorant about music...not that I ever seriously wanted to be a guitar player more than a good writer...it's more like if I read a book about one of my fave albums I'd want to learn about the songwriting, recording, the musicians' experience etc.

of course Scott's right, there are many ways to address a subject, but I think a lot of pop music writing ignores its subject at times.

can you imagine buying a book about the movie Carrie and then reading not about Brian DePalma but the author's own prom nightmare?

m coleman (lovebug starski), Sunday, 17 September 2006 11:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

But come on you dudes, books that like 'explain' all the music on yr fave rave disc for ya are like SOOOOOO NOT ROCK AN ROLL, you should just go with the flo like that waitress Alice

Haikunym (Haikunym), Sunday, 17 September 2006 12:32 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Boy, albums like Ys and Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer hitting me at the same time I'm talking about garbagey-ness as inherent in pop music and questioning Matos' comparison of books about movies or books about books to books about "pop music" albums. I take it all back, o my brothers and sisters!

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Sunday, 17 September 2006 19:22 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Woke up feeling bad about all this so I apologize for the ugliness. We all have our perspectives on the state of pop music criticism and really all I was saying was that I wasn't crazy about the idea for this series.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 15:31 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Fair nuff...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 15:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Tim, I didn't think you were attacking anyone at all. I just thought it odd that you found the cast of the thing unambitious; if anything, it's a blank slate--the level of ambition for each book depends on what the writers bring to it. Signals cross sometimes; it's fine.

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 15:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Did some research on this series, in light of some of the comments here - based on the 5 books I've read so far (Velvets, Kinks, Beastie Boys, James Brown, Led Zeppelin), and (admittedly not always believable) customer/other reviews on amazon.com and a few other bits of Google-info Don't know if any one will find this useful, but whatever!

Kinks Village Green - very on-message, a bit of cultural background
Unknown Pleasures - more a potted history of JD than about the album
Murmur - a combination of recording history and interpretation, very highly regarded by some
Marquee Moon - was this ever even published??
Meat is Murder - "fiction", not about the album at all
Aeroplane Over the Sea - focused, apparently inspirational to some!
Velvets and Nico - about the album, writing sometimes clumsy
Let It Be (Beatles) - totally on-message, recording sessions, etc
OK Computer - somewhat dry, musicological, academic, mostly disliked
Forever Changes - perhaps pretentious, mostly lyrical analysis
Piper at the Gates - focused, some interviews, possibly a bit dull
Harvest - a straight telling of the album's creation
Exile on Main St. - good, vivid, a few personal anecdotes from Buffalo Tom singer
Pet Sounds - focused, but a bit too personal/emotion-based for some
Endtroducing - almost all one long interview with Josh Davis
Electric Ladyland - focused, good on guitars, nothing very new
Music from Big Pink - a novella about a drug dealer who hangs out with The Band
Let It Be (Replacements) - a short memoir by the dude from the Decembrists, not about the album at all
Kick Out the Jams - some love this, some find it boring, but it seems like a straight history of the MC5's beginnings
Led Zep IV - pretentious, overanalytical, and awesome!
Low - focused, historical, very strong
Grace - I can't tell! It's either really good or very bad.
Dusty in Memphis - random, tangential, about the South - both loved and hated
Sign Of the Times - partly autobiographical, but mostly about the album itself, and that part of Prince's career
Paul's Boutique - very sharp, very smart, all about the making of the album
Ramones - very good on punk history and the album itself
Doolittle - lots of interviews with Frank Black, journalistic, good on lyrics and surreaslism
Born in the USA - not sure about this one - seems to have been ignored by most people
Armed Forces - an A-Z of entries, very focused but too dry for some
Abba Gold - basically a potted history of Abba themselves - weird
Live at the Apollo - very cool retelling of James Brown's live show, interspersed with some stuff about the Cuban Missle Crisis, etc
Aqualung - written by a British professor; no idea
There's a Riot Goin' On - solid, about the album, and a little creative
The Stone Roses - not sure: pretty straightforward analysis, I think.

meritocracy (spencerman), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 16:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I really want to There's A Riot Goin' On one.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 16:48 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i want to see some albums written about that didn't come from every top 50 list ever : (

gear (gear), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 16:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I think the scope of this series, both from a content and a style standpoint, is fairly obvious. I'm kind of enthralled with the concept, even though I don't like some of the ones I've read and felt like others really didn't necessarily serve the series all that well.

don weiner (don weiner), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 17:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

When are the "20 Jazz Funk Greats" and "Another Green World" coming out?

T. Weiss (Timmy), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 17:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
They're seeking submissions again.

don weiner (don weiner), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well I'll be darned.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hey Ned, what ever happened to that Marooned book?

showed that a nuts internet was only worth 78,000 hoosteens (Hoosteen), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Will be published in June.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:40 (ten years ago) Permalink


Hoosteen (Hoosteen), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:49 (ten years ago) Permalink

And Ned, have you pre-orded the Loveless book ? (I have.)

don weiner (don weiner), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:56 (ten years ago) Permalink

I read it in manuscript form last April. It's quite excellent.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 8 January 2007 03:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

Fucker. Thanks for emailing me that.

don weiner (don weiner), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:03 (ten years ago) Permalink

Thanks, Ned!

Michael J McGonigal (mike mcgonigal), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

x-post -- *bows* Mike M. was kind enough to offer it to me to read before last year's EMP conference, which I did so we could talk about it briefly there. It is all one could hope for and will be very much worth the wait.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

So psyched for Zeth Lundy's take on Songs in the Key of Life. If anyone had to get that gig over me -- and he did -- I'm glad it was Zeth, he's brilliant and good-hearted and cool as hell.

Haikunym (Haikunym), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

Even if it weren't worth the wait, I would read it and say it was.

Unless it was like that dreadful OK Computer book on 33 1/3.

don weiner (don weiner), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

one of the best part of reading these books (for me, anyway), is going to the albums and listening to them again with such a fresh set of ears.

don weiner (don weiner), Monday, 8 January 2007 04:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm in the middle of "Doolittle" now. I absolutely adored the "In the Aeroplane" one. And yes, it totally gives you a completely new perspective on the album.

less-than three's Christiane F. (drowned in milk), Monday, 8 January 2007 05:23 (ten years ago) Permalink

The non-rock African American musicians profiled are mainly legends---James Brown, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, there aren't too many more, while the rock folks can be less influential. Oh well, I guess that's what sells (and I do want to read more of 'em anyway).

curmudgeon (DC Steve), Monday, 8 January 2007 06:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

The Who Sell Out book is great.

Tripmaker (SDWitzm), Monday, 8 January 2007 15:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

I just got done reading "Loveless." I ate the fucker in a day.

Nice work, Mike. You did the album proud. Fantastic, and I look forward to reading Ned's take in "Marooned."

don weiner (don weiner), Thursday, 18 January 2007 00:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

Told ya. :-)

The Alan McGee bit is the greatest moment of unintentional (on his part) comedy I've read in a *long* time.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 18 January 2007 01:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

Alan McGeen has always been funny like that.

don weiner (don weiner), Thursday, 18 January 2007 01:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

ohh thanks a lot!!!

i've gotten very little feedback just yet so this super means a lot. i was worried that maybe it's to self-indulgent/ referential, or that the delays had messed up the thing's "flow," or... you know, just worried and feeling insecure about it!

anyway, i can't wait to read the one on 'who sell out' as it's totally one of my top five favorite albums ever and i can't say that i know much about it, either.

Michael J McGonigal (mike mcgonigal), Thursday, 18 January 2007 03:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh, the "Sell Out" one's really great. Lots of pirate-radio info, too. Looking forward to reading yours, Mike, and seeing you at Sonic Boom.

A Radio Picture (Rrrickey), Thursday, 18 January 2007 10:27 (ten years ago) Permalink

the alan mcgee bit? ( i know i know i should buy it and maybe read it myself...)

cw (cww), Thursday, 18 January 2007 11:23 (ten years ago) Permalink

what about mcgee? you mean the one line email i got back from him in reply to an interview, or what i had to say about him in general?

Michael J McGonigal (mike mcgonigal), Thursday, 18 January 2007 11:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

you mean the one line email i got back from him in reply to an interview

Yes, my friend.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 18 January 2007 13:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm just finishing the Grace book and I love it. I'm preferring the more over-the-top gushy ones than the dryer studio who plays what ones really.

Has anyone read the 69 Love Songs one yet? I picked it up but haven't read it but it looks like a compendium more than anything else.

Viz (Viz), Thursday, 18 January 2007 17:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

Mike! The Loveless book is wonderful. Thanks so much. It's made me go back and -yeeeah - fall in love with them again.

It also made me want to take a time machine back to the Maxwell's and City Gardens (Trenton, NJ) shows I saw them play. Oh, and one glorious one at The Ritz in NYC where people swarmed out during "You Made Me Realize" . Colm was a wonder to behold during that song. Cheers!

Jay Vee's Return (Manon_69), Thursday, 25 January 2007 01:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

ohh, thanks a lot lot lot. and we must have been at the same shows, except i think for some reason i missed the ritz one? i can't remember.

anyway, it's funny but i could stand to wait a few more years to hear it again! hah.

Michael J McGonigal (mike mcgonigal), Thursday, 25 January 2007 01:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

Heheh. The natural response to overkill. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 25 January 2007 01:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

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