Continuum’s “33 1/3” books? Okay, I’d heard about them vaguely. I’ve run into references here and there while reading through Amazon reviews of other books. I may have even picked on up sometime in the book store and flipped through it dismissively. But last night something happened. I think I turned a corner and now may be hooked.
Each book is an intensive look at a particular album, it’s times and process. Each is written by a different person, some are musicians, some are writers some aren’t. Some employ a bit of fiction, not to pull the wool over your eyes but as a function of their narrative, like John Niven’s “Music From Big Pink,” and some lean more toward an academic style. You never know what you’re going to get which makes choosing sort of a gamble but one that is comparable to the thrift-store thrill.
Since each is unique it will be impossible for me to reject the whole series based on any one book. I can always read opinion/reviews on Amazon and blogs but in the end it’s all subjective. The reader goes in with certain expectations, certain prejudices.
One reader review faulted the writer of the Led Zeppelin Four essay for delving too heavily into the mystical/occult but geez, that was the territory Mr. Page was exploring.
I’ll try to be open to each book and expect only that I learn something. Yes, I expect I will occasionally be annoyed, disappointed, confused even, but it still seems an exciting prospect to read this series.
I have ordered “Music From Big Pink”, “Trout Mask Replica” and “Exile on Main Street.” Once I begin to read them, which I hope to do in October, I’ll form my own opinions and let you know.
The real trouble is that there are at least a dozen that I could easily read — Love’s Forever Changes, Bowie’s Low, Velvet Underground with Nico, MC 5’s Kick Out the Jams, Pixies’ Doolittle, Beastie Boys’ Pauls Boutique, Dusty Springfield Dusty in Memphis, Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces, James Brown Live at the Apollo, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, P.J. Harvey’s Rid of Me and Jeff Buckley’s Grace.
There is one on Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out the Lights!” They also have works from Celine Dion to Slayer! Belle and Sebastian, Joy Division, U2, Wire, A Tribe Called Quest, The Smiths, Minutemen and oh, yeah, Dylan.
There’s a wealth of tomes on some of your favorite albums. Led Zeppelin 4, Black Sabbath Master of Reality (written by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats), Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith, Horses on and on and on. They are fairly affordable. Amazon sells most for just under $9. I almost bought David Bowie’s “Low” but it will have to wait until next time. I expect to be disappointed with the “Low” book because I know, regardless of how many words are dedicated to covering Eno’s role, there will not be enough Eno to suit me.
Now and in the fabulous future one never needs to wonder what reasonably priced gift to choose for me. I’ll be accepting cheap used copies of any and all 33 1/3 books. I’m no perfection-expecting elitist.
Here is the 33 1/3 wiki.
An accidental discovery for you bloggy Bob lovers: BobDylanEncyclopedia.