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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't Forget Joy Division Reading this Sunday at Barbes


Hey kids-
Just a reminder that this Sunday March 1st at 7pm is the last (for now) installment of the now famous 33 1/3 Multimedia Reading Series at Barbes in Brooklyn.

If you haven't made it out for one of these yet, now is a good time to remedy that grave error. This one is definitely not to be missed.

Here's what you have to look forward to:

Chris Ott- Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures
Since the publication of Chris Ott's Contiuum 33 1/3 title Unknown Pleasures, the music and image of Joy Division has been commercialized in unimaginable ways. Dramatized in two separate major motion pictures, and co-opted by corporations diverse as Microsoft, Converse, and Urban Outfitters, Joy Division have evolved from their status as a jealously-guarded underground touchstone to become ubiquitous as today's most extroverted pop stars. "Where Will it End", a new essay from Chris Ott tackling this transformation, will be presented March 1st at Barbès Brooklyn, accompanied by audio and film clips. A Q&A session will follow.



Barbès

376 9th Street at 6th Ave

Park Slope

FREE

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vol 62: Wire's Pink Flag, by Wilson Neate

I'm very pleased to announce that Wilson Neate's brilliant book on Pink Flag is now publishing across North America. (Those of you in the UK and further afield - it'll be mid-April, probably.)

The book features in-depth analysis and history of the album's origins and creation, with input from pretty much all the band members. There's also a smattering of very rare images, a foreword by Robin Rimbaud, and reflections from luminaries including Graham Coxon, Steve Albini, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, and Robert Pollard. Also, the colour scheme on the cover is just gorgeous. Here's the copy from the back of the book...

***

"Pink Flag is very much about the climate of the time: about 1977, about punk rock," reflects Colin Newman. "But it's not a punk record. It's about giving punk a good kicking using the tools of punk. It was very much about not being like the Sex Pistols or the Clash - or another rock band." Wire emerged late in punk's day, when its creative impact had dissipated. A second wave of bands was transforming punk into a cartoonish, homogeneous style, reconstituting formulaic rock-as-usual, and Wire's initial excitement at the potential of this cultural revolution had turned to ambivalence. Wire shared some of punk's vocabulary but spoke another language, and Pink Flag may have been the first post-punk album, although - or because - it embodied punk's most radical spirit.

More punk than punk and more genuinely arty than art rock, Wire pursued an obsessively minimalist, conceptual aesthetic, playfully discarding conventional boundaries between fine art and popular culture. While British rock abounds with art-school musicians, few brought that pedigree to bear on their work as rigorously and adventurously as Wire. Drawing on original interviews with Wire and their producer (plus contemporaries and heirs), Wilson Neate offers a sharp and incisive study of Pink Flag in the context of the punk scene and broader rock traditions.

***

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart

In April/May, we'll be publishing Gavin Hopps' brilliant study of Morrissey's career: Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart. Here's a lovely endorsement we've had from Michael Bracewell...

"Finally, Morrissey's astonishing career as a writer and singer is treated with the scholarship it deserves. This is an outstanding, elegant book, of interest not only to Morrissey's fans, but to anyone interested in the literary capacity of pop music, as well as its power to enchant, seduce and unnerve."

And here's an extract from the start of the book...

***

A Taste of Honey — the film to which Morrissey’s lyrics most frequently allude — begins with a game of netball in which a harried and inept Rita Tushingham struggles to join in, followed by a sympathetically hectic camera and ironised by a cartoon musical score. The opening dialogue, afterwards in the girls’ changing-room, runs as follows:

— You’re not much good at netball, are you, Jo? [Tushingham’s character]
— No—I’m bad on purpose.
— Are you going dancing tonight?
— I can’t.
— You never go anywhere, do you?
— I haven’t got any clothes to wear, for one thing. And for another . . .
— What?
— We might be moving home again.
— Like a couple of gypsies, you and your mother.
— So what!

It’s remarkable how many features of Morrissey’s art are prefigured in this short exchange. The notion of being ‘bad on purpose’ — of turning ineptitude into a virtue — lies at the centre of the singer’s early persona. The series of negations — ‘No,’ ‘can’t,’ ‘never,’ ‘haven’t got’ — calls to mind the singer’s incorrigible no-saying, whilst the pause after ‘I can’t’ gives a sense of a paralysing force invisibly in play and puts one in mind of the unspeakable, ‘excessive’ and ingenious darkness that makes itself felt throughout his work. And finally — leaving aside the more explicit allusions — the notion of being a ‘gypsy,’ a wanderer, of ‘moving home again,’ which strangely coexists with a sense of ‘never going anywhere,’ is one of the most recurrent themes in Morrissey’s lyrics.

Let us consider another exchange, this time involving Morrissey himself. On Later with Jools Holland, in May 2004, in a last-ditch attempt to get the profoundly embarrassed and awkward Morrissey to play the game and take part in the interview, Holland falls back on the apparently foolproof conventions of the participatory joke:

Holland: Knock, knock!
Morrissey: I’m not joining in.
Holland: Oh go on, please!
Morrissey: [to laughing audience] You can join in. [laughter] No, Jools, I refuse to open the door.
Holland: That’s very good, that’s very clever. You don’t even know who it is!
Morrissey: I’m not curious.

This short exchange reveals a lot about Morrissey. It reveals, for instance, that he’s witty, slippery, and remains in character even when he’s off stage. It also suggests that central to this ‘character’ is a not-joining-in or a refusal to make friends with everyday experience — a being ‘bad on purpose,’ one is tempted to say. Perhaps most interestingly of all, though, what it reveals is that his not-joining-in is a double gesture which subverts and paradoxically takes part in the game. That is to say, in making a joke of the joke — which lays bare but nonetheless relies upon its conventions — his refusal is itself a sort of ‘knock, knock’ joke and a continuation of its tradition. These two snippets of awkward dialogue illustrate some of the central subjects considered in this book.

Awkwardness, refusal, and not-joining-in are hardly a promising basis for an artist. However, it was by standing in its midst and yet refusing to take part that Morrissey thrust a wedge into the spokes of the complacently turning wheel of popular music, and out of this disturbance fashioned his art. It is likewise his awkwardness — his not-fitting-in — that resuscitates the very tradition it subverts. This is partly because his refusal of the escapist morphine of 1980s New Pop was based upon a conviction that popular music could be a space where one might reflect upon the most urgent realities, irrespective of whether they were messy, embarrassing, or unwieldy—as of course most urgent realities are. (The space doesn’t need to be large — think of the Psalms — but it needs to be open.) And it was partly because in speaking ‘ec-centrically’ — from a de-centred space of non-belonging — Morrissey’s art of awkwardness reclaimed popular music as a genuinely countercultural force and the voice of dysfunction and alienation.

The underlying claim of this study, then, is that Morrissey is a superlatively ‘disturbing’ artist, whose greatest virtue is his awkwardness. This appears to be consonant with the singer’s view of himself as ‘ringleader of the tormentors.’ When asked, for instance, how he would like to be remembered, he replied: as ‘Manchester’s answer to the H-bomb.’ When the subject of his career came up in another interview, he interjected: ‘Is that what I’ve had? A career? You make it sound like I went down to the Job Centre and asked if they had any vacancies for “dire troublemaker.” ’ And when asked if he had thought about life after fame, he said: ‘One way or another, I will always be somewhere just skating about the edges of global fame, pestering people and throwing glasses.’

***

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things to do in LA and NYC

I'll start with NYC since it's closer and this is happening this Saturday. This looks like a lot of fun. And it's free! The live music features members of Psychic Ills and Beirut, and should go on around 10pm, the awesome blacklit plexiglass sculptures will be on display all night...
Next up: Los Angeles
I keep an eye on this blog called Egg City Radio (formerly Post Punk Junk) and the guy who runs it is a programmer at Cinefamily in LA. Throughout the months of March and April they are running a Thursday night series of rare and awesome punk films. I would be there if I could.

Thursday, March 5th - The Punk Rock Movie + The Blank Generation
Thursday, March 12th - Two Films about The Fall
Thursday, March 19th - Made In Sheffield + Shadowplayers
Thursday, March 26th - Urgh! A Music War + Debt Begins At Twenty
Thursday, April 2nd - Post-Punk Junk mix night
Thursday, April 9th - European Punk night (La Brune Et Moi + TBA)
Thursday, April 16th - Breaking Glass + Crash ‘N’ Burn
Thursday April 30th - Target Video tribute night

I've started to make a dent in the not-so-shortlist of proposals, and I have to say that I'm impressed. Lots of hard decisions ahead. Also, while I have your attention, sign up for the 33.3 newsletter if you feel so inclined.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Shortlist

I'm very pleased to announce that the 170 proposals below have made it on to the so-called shortlist. Fingers crossed, every single person who submitted a proposal has received an email from me today, bearing either good or bad news. (Please do check your spam folders or whatever, because I ran into a bunch of technical glitches this afternoon but I'm sure as I can be that all the emails did actually go out.)

All of the proposals on this shortlist had *something* about them - enough to make me think they'd make a book worth reading. And yet so many of the proposals that didn't make the cut were good, too; there's definitely an element of luck to all of this, and I can only apologise to those who feel hard done by.

As for what happens next...a small group of us will consider these 170 proposals as closely as we can, and maybe 6-8 weeks from now we'll have reduced this list to a much more manageable size. Feel free, in the comments below, to wax lyrical about Bill Fox, AC/DC, what on earth do we think we are doing, etc.

UPDATE: I GET THE SENSE THAT A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET AN EMAIL TODAY, DESPITE MY BEST EFFORTS. IF YOU'RE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT MY REGULAR WORK EMAIL, AND I'LL SORT THIS OUT - THANKS! (david at continuum-books.com)

***

2 Live Crew – As Clean As They Wanna Be
AC/DC – Back in Black
AC/DC – For Those About To Rock
AC/DC – Highway to Hell
Agnostic Front – Cause for Alarm
Animal Collective – FEELS
Aphrodite’s Child – 666
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace
Arthur Russell – World of Echo
The Beatles – The Beatles
The Beatles – The Beatles
The Bee Gees – Best of the Bee Gees, Volume 1
Ben Folds Five – The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Big Country – The Crossing
Bill Fox – Transit Byzantium
Black Uhuru - Showcase
Bob Dylan – Self Portrait
Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind
Britney Spears – Blackout
Britney Spears – Blackout
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Cars – The Cars
The Chills – Submarine Bells
The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
Crowded House – Together Alone
Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual
Daft Punk – Discovery
D’Angelo – Voodoo
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
Digital Underground – Sex Packets
Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
Donovan – Gift From a Flower to a Garden
Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
The Drones – Gala Mill
Duran Duran – Rio
The Eagles – Greatest Hits
ELO – Out of the Blue
Emmylou Harris – Pieces of the Sky
Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun
Fairport Convention – Liege and Lief
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Fugazi – 13 Songs
Fugazi – In On the Kill Taker
Garth Brooks – (in…) The Life of Chris Gaines
Gary Numan and Tubeway Army – Replicas
Gary Wilson – You Think You Really Know Me
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Girl Talk – Night Ripper
Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun
Grateful Dead – The Closing of Winterland
Hall and Oates – Rock ‘n’ Soul Part One
Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream and Other Delights
The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
Husker Du – Zen Arcade
The Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
The Incredible String Band – Wee Tam and the Big Huge
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
J Dilla – Donuts
The Jam – All Mod Cons
Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual
Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
Jefferson Airplane – Crown of Creation
Jellyfish – Spilt Milk
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
John Lennon – Live in New York City
Johnny Cash – American Recordings
Johnny Cash – American Recordings
Kanye West – 808 & Heartbreak
Karen Dalton – In My Own Time
Kiss – Destroyer
The Knack – Get the Knack
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen – Various Positions
Lil’ Wayne – Da Drought 3
Little Feat – Sailin’ Shoes
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music
Madonna – Ray of Light
Main Source – Breaking Atoms
Manu Chao – Clandestino
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey
The Melvins – Lysol
Metallica – Metallica
Metallica – Master of Puppets
M.I.A. – Kala
The Millennium – Begin
Moby Grape – Moby Grape
Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
The Monkees – Head
Mothers of Invention – Freak Out!
The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas
Namco – Katamari Fortissimo Damacy
Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
NWA – Straight Outta Compton
The O’Jays – Back Stabbers
Operation Ivy – Energy
Paul Simon – Graceland
Pearl Jam – Vitalogy
Pere Ubu – Dub Housing
Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
Phil Ochs – Rehearsals for Retirement
Phish – Junta
Phish – Rift
Pink Floyd – The Wall
The Police - Synchronicity
Portishead – Dummy
Public Image Limited – Metal Box
Pussy Galore – Exile on Main Street
Radiohead – Kid A
Radiohead – Kid A
Rage Against the Macine – Evil Empire
Randy Newman – Good Old Boys
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
REM – Automatic for the People
The Residents – Commercial Album
Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
Rush – Moving Pictures
Rush – Moving Pictures
Sandy Denny – Sandy
Scott Walker – The Drift
Sleater-Kinney – One Beat
Slint – Spiderland
Slint – Spiderland
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
The Strokes – Is This It
Suicide – Suicide
Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Television – Marquee Moon
They Might Be Giants – Flood
They Might Be Giants - Lincoln
Townes Van Zandt – Townes Van Zandt
USA for Africa – We Are the World
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Van Halen – MCMLXXXIV
Various Artists – Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Vol 1
Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
Various Artists – Reservoir Dogs soundtrack
The Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon
Ween – Chocolate and Cheese
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Woody Guthrie – Dust Bowl Ballads
X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents
X – Los Angeles
X – More Fun in the New World
XTC – Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol 2)
Yoko Ono – Plastic Ono Band
Young Jeezy – Let’s Get It
Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth
The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

***

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sign up, if you wish, for the 33 1/3 newsletter

We've only just realised, after 46 months, that this blog isn't the ideal/only way to offer you all the news you crave about the 33 1/3 series. So we're launching a modest email newsletter soon, which will contain updates on:

* Brand new and upcoming titles

* Special offers on books in the series

* Author events

* Giveaways and contests

* Information for reviewers

* Much more cool stuff, as and when we think about it

If you want to sign up for the newsletter, simply send an email to Claire Heitlinger, the series publicist - cheitlinger at continuum-books.com

There'll be overlap, obviously, between this blog and the newsletter - but it'll be a nice way of rounding up a bunch of information, every once in a while. So please do drop Claire a line, if you want to be added to her list - thanks!

Oh, and everyone who sent in a proposal will be getting an email in the next 48 hours, and the "short"list will be posted here on Sunday evening, NYC time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day with The Minutemen


Looking for the perfect V-day date night? If you live in the Chicago area, head over the Quimby's Bookstore on Saturday to see Michael Fournier read from his 33 1/3 The Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime.

Here's a link to the event page.

Michael Fournier also hosts 2 awesome radio shows.

The Big Burrito is every Monday night from 9-11, featuring postpunk, mathrock, New Hampshire emo mathmetal, etc.

The Living End is an all-Jandek show, from 4-5 pm on Fridays.

Both shows are on UMaine's radio station, WMEB, 91.9 FM, which streams at http://www.wmeb.fm

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Tom Waits Bus Tour in Los Angeles!

A quick plug for the Tom Waits Bus Tour of L.A. at the end of this month, hosted by your very able 33 1/3 authors David Smay and Kim Cooper.

Details below...

***

WHAT: "Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits' Los Angeles" bus tour
WHEN: Saturday February 28, noon-4pm
WHERE: Bus tour departs from The King Edward Saloon, 131 E 5th Street
COST: $62/person
MORE INFO: visit http://www.esotouric.com or call 323-223-2767

LOS ANGELES- Legendary musician Tom Waits toured recently, but fans in his old hometown were out of luck--all the dates were in the South. So Esotouric, the bus adventure company whose offbeat tours expose LA's secret history, launched a new tour just to scratch that gravelly voiced itch.

CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA: TOM WAITS' LOS ANGELES debuted in August 2008 with a sold out tour, and repeats on February 28. It is the definitive tour of Tom Waits' formative creative life and the people, places and late night pastries that shaped it.

Calling all rain dogs, gin-soaked boys and Gun Street girls! Climb aboard as your hosts David Smay (author of the new 33 1/3 series book on "Swordfishtrombones") and Esotouric's Kim Cooper (a Zoetrope Studios intern who'll tell how she used teenage subterfuge to arrange a private concert by Tom) lead you on a scrupulously researched ride through Tom's epic misdeeds and shenanigans, from the Trashing of the Troubadour to epic nights at the Tropicana.

And oh, there are such tales to tell, from food fights with L.A. Punks and smackdowns with L.A. Police. We'll crawl through the Sewers of Paris, tattle on the Ivar Theater, and get the lowdown on Tom's legendary performances at the Wiltern and elsewhere. Before departing for points rural, Tom left his mark all over L.A., from Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios to Sunset Sound to Skid Row. We'll show you where Tom found his true love and collaborator, Kathleen Brennan, and how all the pieces came together to transform a drunken, desperate singer into the multi-faceted, multi-media artist he'd become.

Raised near San Diego, Tom Waits launched his musical career in L.A., signing with David Geffen's Asylum Records in 1972, living at the raunchy Tropicana Hotel (where he sawed off the kitchen drain board so his piano would fit), and building a reputation as a songwriter willing to risk his own health and sanity to get inside the sad sack characters that peopled songs like "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)," "On The Nickel" and "Pasties And A G-string (At The Two O'clock Club)."

By 1980, Tom was 31 and starting to feel the effects of his hard living. While scoring the music to Francis Ford Coppola's "One From The Heart," he met Kathleen Brennan, whose influence would completely transform his life and his art. After a whirlwind courtship the pair married and began a 28-year creative and personal partnership, beginning with the revolutionary album "Swordfishtrombones," the subject of tour host David Smay's new book.

As a symbolic passage from lonesome bar hopping to family joys and sobriety, the tour starts and ends at two important downtown sites. Passengers gather in the King Edward Saloon, the last surviving Skid Row bar with the Christmas 2007 loss of Craby Joe's, before boarding Esotouric's luxury coach class bus, where the mood is set with vintage photos and live footage. CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA spans Tom's personal city, from The Nickel (aka Skid Row) to once-ratty West Hollywood, favorite strip clubs and midnight diners, recording studios, night clubs, record labels and film studios, before rolling back downtown for a communal snack at Clifton's Cafeteria.

Clearing out the bookmarks file...

I've been collecting a few links in my bookmarks, so it's time to unload...
  • It's hard to believe that Throbbing Gristle has never played in NYC before, but it looks like that will change when they play a gig a the Brooklyn Masonic Temple down the street from my apartment in April. One time I was out walking the dog and noticed a lot of people with piercings wearing black clothes with logos bearing pointy fonts wandering around the neighborhood. When I got home I found out that Neurosis and Mastodon were at the Masonic Temple. It doesn't really get more metal than that.
  • The Oxford American's recent music issue has a heartbreakingly awesome feature on Elton and Betty White, who come from my hometown of Little Rock. WFMU's blog also has an audio introduction to them as well.
That's all I've got for now.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The shortlist will not be short

I've now read all the proposals, and feel like my head is about to explode. In a good way.

By this time next week (Sunday night, New York time), I'll post the shortlist on here - all the proposals that are still in the running. And *before* that, I'll send an email to everyone whose proposal didn't make the cut, as well as to everyone whose proposal did. In other words, all of you. (If that makes sense. It's late.)

After that, the really hard work begins...



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lux Interior, R.I.P.

Sad news about the passing of the Cramps' frontman, Lux Interior. We do have a proposal under consideration for their Songs The Lord Taught Us album - and it's a good one.

Here's a clip from their legendary performance at Napa State Mental Hospital in 1984. Enjoy...

***

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Achtung Baby, reviewed

Of the 60-something books we've published in the series so far, none polarizes opinion more than Stephen Catanzarite's volume on U2. There's a great new review of it on Inside Catholic.com, written by Mark Judge, opening with the line "Stephen Catanzarite has written arguably the most important book about rock music of the young 21st century". People either really love this book, or it drives them up the wall, which was clearly going to be the case even as I read Stephen's compelling proposal, a few years back.

I can only think of two volumes in the entire series, for which I've never seen or heard a single negative word - Mark Polizzotti's Dylan book, and Dan LeRoy's book on the Beastie Boys. Of course, feel free to disabuse me of that notion, in the comments section below. Such is the beauty of the internet!