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

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Homeward Bound

Posting will be light over the next couple of weeks, as I'm off to England tonight for a few days of work followed by several days of doing very little indeed in rural Herefordshire, where the internet sounds like something that might entangle the local sheep.

Continuum moved its NYC office this weekend. Our new address is:

80 Maiden Lane, Suite 704
New York, NY 10038

Telephones, faxes and emails remain the same.

If anyone's going to the MLA Convention in DC from Dec 27-30, we'll see you there. Otherwise, normal service should resume in early January.

Happy holidays,


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

David Mitchell

Don't you just love David Mitchell? Or his novels, at least? Ghostwritten, Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas - I love them all. And in the spring, we'll be blessed with a fourth: Black Swan Green. If anybody has access to an advance copy of this - I'd really, really love one.

The plot summary is as follows:

Jason Taylor is 13, doomed to be growing up in the most boring family in the deadest village in the dullest county in the most tedious nation on earth. Featuring 13 chapters, each self-contained as a short story, this book follows 13 months in his life as he negotiates the pitfalls of school and home and contends with bullies, girls and politics.

And here's a very short extract:

Picked-on kids act invisible to reduce the chances of being noticed and picked on. Stammerers act invisible to reduce the chances of being made to say something we can’t. Kids whose parents argue act invisible in case we trigger another skirmish. The Triple Invisible Boy, that’s Jason Taylor. Even I don’t see the real Jason Taylor much these days, ’cept for when we’re writing a poem, or occasionally in a mirror, or just before sleep. But he comes out in woods. Ankley branches, knuckly roots, paths that only might be, earthworks by badgers or Romans, a pond that’ll ice over come January, a wooden cigar box nailed behind the ear of a secret sycamore where we once planned a treehouse, birdstuffedtwigsnapped silence, toothy bracken, and places you can’t find if you’re not alone. Time in woods’s older than time in clocks, and truer.

Keeping it Real in Detroit

There's an interesting piece about Kim Cooper's Neutral Milk Hotel book, by Keith Dusenberry, in Real Detroit Weekly.

You can read it here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Springsteen review

A review of Geoff Himes' book in Baltimore magazine, by John Lewis:

Geoffrey Himes
Born in the USA (Continuum)

If you’ve ever longed for in-depth, book-length analysis of seminal pop recordings, Continuum’s 33 1/3 series is for you. Pairing expert writers with classic discs—from blockbusters such as Abba Gold and The Beatles Let It Be to obscurities such as Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, it covers a lot of ground. Baltimore contributor and noted music writer Geoffrey Himes tackles Bruce Springsteen’s Born In the USA with thoroughly insightful results. Rather than simply analyzing the disc’s tunes, Himes also looks at the three-year period leading up to its release, a time when Springsteen was, arguably, at his creative peak. He wades through the hype and hyperbole surrounding Springsteen’s most commercially successful disc to get at the humanity and emotion at its core. And Himes’s spot-on interpretation of the title track should be required reading for any politico still tempted to misrepresent the song (as Ronald Reagan and others have done) as a patriotic campaign jingle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

If you don't like lists, look away now

A few stragglers (with valid excuses) remain, but we've ended up with proposals for books about albums by the following people. The Flaming Lips win with four proposals, narrowly trumping Willie Nelson, U2, Steely Dan, GNR, and Van Morrison, who each have three.

A huge thank you to everybody who submitted a pitch. We'll do our very best to pick the best ones, and to let everybody know by the end of January.

You'll be glad to know that only one of the proposals contains the word "fisting".

Afghan Whigs (2)
Al Kooper
Al Stewart
Aphex Twin
Arcade Fire
Belle & Sebastian (2)
Billy Joel
Bob Dylan
Bob Marley
Brian Eno (2)
Brian Wilson
Bright Eyes
Buena Vista Social Club
Café Tacuba
Captain Beefheart
Carole King
Cat Power
Celine Dion
Chemical Brothers (2)
Crowded House
Curtis Mayfield
De La Soul
Depeche Mode (2)
Derek and the Dominos
Dream Syndicate
Drive-By Truckers
Duran Duran
The Eagles
Elliott Smith
Elvis Presley
Everly Brothers
The Fall
Flaming Lips (4)
Fleetwood Mac
Fountains of Wayne
Frank Zappa
Gram Parsons
Grateful Dead
Green Day
Guns n Roses (3)
Human League
Husker Du
Incredible String Band
Iron Maiden (2)
Jackson Browne
The Jam
Jane’s Addiction
Jean Michel Jarre
Jefferson Starship
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jesus and Mary Chain
John Lee Hooker
Kanye West
Kate Bush
Killed By Death Vol. 2
Kris Kristofferson
The Lemonheads
The Libertines
Lifter Puller
Limp Bizkit
Liz Phair (2)
Lucinda Williams
Magnetic Fields
Marvin Gaye (2)
Minutemen (2)
Motley Crue
Nick Cave
Nick Drake (2)
Nine Inch Nails
Patti Smith
PJ Harvey (2)
Portishead (2)
Public Enemy (2)
Pulp (2)
Randy Newman
Richard and Linda Thompson
Rolling Stones
The Roots
Scott Walker
Shoes (thanks Don!)
Sleater Kinney
Steely Dan (3)
Stevie Wonder (3)
The Stooges (2)
The Stranglers
Talking Heads (2)
They Might Be Giants
This Mortal Coil
Throbbing Gristle
Tom Waits (3)
A Tribe Called Quest (2)
U2 (3)
Uncle Tupelo
Van Dyke Parks
Van Halen
Van Morrison (3)
Vic Chesnutt
Violent Femmes (2)
The White Stripes
The Who
Willie Nelson (3)
Will The Circle Be Unbroken?
Wire (2)
Wu-Tang Clan

In the days when you were hopelessly poor...

No reason for any of us to be interested in the Smiths' labyrinthine legal affairs, but this statement from Morrissey (copied from here) is morbidly fascinating...I end up feeling sorry for everybody involved in this mess.

Statement from Morrissey:

The latest statements from M Joyce on a BBC 6 radio interview as faithfully reported on the MorrisseySoLow site have been brought to my attention and I feel I should make this reply as an attempt to put the matter straight.

1. From '83 to '87 M Joyce happily and willingly received 10% of Smiths recording royalties.

2. In '89, as is documented, Joyce sued Morrissey & Marr for 25% of Smiths recording royalties.

3. In '96, Joyce took his claim to court - and on the basis of the 1890 Partnership Act the judge awarded Joyce 25%.

4. In '97, M Joyce was paid 215 thousand pounds from me, and 215 thousand pounds from Johnny Marr.

5. In '99, Joyce appeared on British television and made the statement: "There was no contract saying we were gonna get 25%."

6. In 2001, as a final payment of back royalties, Johnny Marr paid Joyce 260 thousand pounds, plus "costs." At this time I was in the US and was not served with court proceedings, so Joyce obtained a Default Judgment. He then put forward a claim from me for 688 thousand pounds - well above and beyond the amount Johnny Marr was ordered to pay. In my absence, the figure was not contested.

7. Since 2001, and because of the Default Judgment against me, Joyce has taken out Third Party Orders against the following societies: my personal bank account in England, Smiths royalties from Warner Music, my personal PRS royalties, my personal PPL royalties, and he has attempted to seize UK concert fees from venue to venue. This money, to date, totals 700 thousand pounds. This figure is in addition to the figures mentioned above.

8. By grabbing the full total of Smiths royalties from Warner Music (and this means that when the public buy a Smiths CD in the UK, the royalties go to Joyce, and have done so since 2001) Joyce has knowingly deprived Andy Rourke of his 10% Smiths royalties, and has deprived producers John Porter, Stephen Street, Grant Showbiz and Steve Lillywhite (for "Ask") of their entitlements. Joyce did not declare to the courts that others - namely, the above - were also beneficiaries to the Warner Music royalties.

9. In 2001, Joyce attempted to seize both my mother's house and my sister's house by claiming that I had taken my assets out of the UK; he made this claim even though he had direct access to all of the above – which are in the UK. Joyce eventually dropped both of these claims due to lack of evidence, and he refused to pay the 150 thousand pounds that it had cost me to defend his groundless claims. Joyce also dropped his claim as co-composer with Johnny M on Smiths compositions, and Joyce also dropped his claim for Producer royalties on Smiths recordings, and Joyce also dropped his claim for a share of Artwork payments given to me for providing Smiths record sleeves. There were, in fact, no payments to me for Smiths Artwork. Joyce made a further claim for 25% of all Smiths t-shirts sold during the '83 to '87 period, even though there was no evidence that any royalty for t-shirts had been received by either myself or Johnny Marr.

10. In legal fees alone, Joyce has cost me 600 thousand pounds - this is quite apart from any payments made to him, and is quite apart from any money seized by him. In total, Joyce has cost me 1 million, 515 thousand pounds. This is an approximate figure - it could even be higher.

11. The Joyce action is continuous. Because of his Default Judgment he continues to take my royalties, and the royalties of others mentioned above, from Warner Music - consequently I have not received record royalties since 2001.

12. Since 2001, the money claimed by Joyce is charged, to me, at 100 pounds a day in interest.

13. During the Smiths' lifetime, when Joyce willingly took a 10% royalty, he did not contribute towards any expenses of any kind, did not take on any Partnership duties or responsibilities, and he received his 10% as gross earnings.

The point I wish to make is this: Joyce is not poor, unless, living as he does in the Cheshire green-belt, he lives beyond his means. Somehow, he appears to believe that he should have equal financial status to both myself and to Johnny Marr, even though Joyce has done dramatically less than Johnny and I to attain the positions we now have.

Joyce is not poor because of one reason - me. His career now is the fictitious position of an unpaid ex-member of the Smiths. He has also pursued all of his claims on Legal Aid.

I don't make this statement in search of sympathy from anyone, but I wish that the people at MorrisseySoLow who support Joyce would at least get their facts right before they say anything. Even with his 10% share, Joyce was wealthy. Now, he is extremely wealthy.

What more does he want?

I have fought the Joyce action as much as I could over the years, but the simple truth is that, under British law, the word of a judge will not be overturned. In the absence of any evidence from the 1980s, the judge in this case relied upon the Partnership Act of 1890 to help Joyce win his claim. Joyce has exploited the judge's final verdict in order to get as much as he can from me, from Johnny Marr, and also from Andy Rourke.

Finally, Joyce does not have the legal right to sell unreleased Smiths material - it belongs to Warner Music. Joyce did not pay for the recording time under which any demo material was recorded. Furthermore, Joyce cannot sell any unreleased work by Johnny Marr or Andy Rourke without, at very least, their permission.

Thanks for reading this,

Baltimore Springstonians - Read This!

If you're in Baltimore, and you love The Boss, you may want to attend this event:


Geoffrey Himes, the noted Baltimore music critic, and Bob Kannenberg, the leader of Baltimore's roots-rock band the Barn Burners, celebrate "The Music of Bruce Springsteen" in a free afternoon event at An Die Musik on Saturday, December 10, at 2 p.m.

Himes - a music critic for the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper - will discuss and read from his new book on Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A., part of Continuum's acclaimed 33 1/3 series. Kannenberg will present "unplugged" versions of several Springsteen songs plus a few of his own compositions influenced by Springsteen. Both the author and the musician will be signing copies of their books and recordings.

There is no admission and everyone is invited. An Die Musik is located downtown Baltimore at 411 N Charles Street. For more information, contact the store at (410) 385-2638. This event is co-sponsored by the Roots Café and the Red Wheelbarrow Theater.