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Music

33 1/3 Big Star's Radio City

33 1/3 Big Star's Radio City

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Released when ELP and Elton John were plodding from one packed stadium to the next, Radio City was a radical album influenced by records that were already deemed oldies and yet sounding like a lean electrical jolt from the future. Here, Bruce Eaton examines the key ingredients of Radio City's lasting appeal- and through extensive interviews with all of those involved, gets to the heart of the cult of Big Star.
33 1/3 Chocolate and Cheese

33 1/3 Chocolate and Cheese

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Ween now seems like a permanent fixture on the pop-cultural landscape, but when the band first hit MTV in the early '90s, their longevity wasn't so secure. Nearly two decades on, though, Aaron Gene Ween Freeman and Mickey Dean Ween Melchiondo preside over one of the most devoted cult fan bases in American music. So how exactly did Ween manage to transcend joke-band oblivion?

One answer is that, in the years following their MTV breakthrough, Ween gradually polished their output, turning their staunchly primitive musical sketches into hi-fi paintings. Chocolate and Cheese, released in 1994, marked Freeman and Melchiondo's first crucial steps in this direction. Based on new, in-depth interviews with both members of Ween, as well as producer Andrew Weiss and associates ranging from Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) to Spike Jonze, this book explores the song-by-song creation of Chocolate and Cheese and how the album served as a bridge between Ween's original two-guys-and-a-4-track incarnation and the rich, virtuosic rock & roll force they would later become.

33 1/3 Flaming Lips' Zaireeka

33 1/3 Flaming Lips' Zaireeka

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Zaireeka is the anti-headphone and the anti-mp3. It purposely makes the two biggest developments in end-user music in the last 30 years irrelevant. Zaireeka is not mobile. It is not personal. It is not solitary, cannot be easily controlled, and can't easily be consumed in small doses. So another way to think of Zaireeka is as a one-off piece of technology that comes in a highly inconvenient dead-end format.

The Flaming Lips' 1997 album Zaireeka is one of the most peculiar albums ever recorded, consisting of four CDs meant to be played simultaneously on four CD players. Approaching this powerful and complex art-rock masterpiece from multiple angles, Mark Richardson's prismatic study of Zaireeka mirrors the structure the work itself. Thoughts on communal listening and the death of the album are interspersed with the story of the Zaireeka's creation (with assistance from Wayne Coyne) and an in-depth analysis of the music, leading to a complete picture of a record that proved to be a watershed for both the band and adventurous music fans alike.

33 1/3 Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin

33 1/3 Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin

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In 1968, the Flying Burrito Brothers released The Gilded Palace of Sin on A&M Records, selling a disappointing 400,000 copies. Almost forty years later, front man Gram Parsons, is still spoken of with almost messianic reverence. Patron saint of alt-country, emblazoned with a shining cross, dead at 26. Overshadowed by Parsons, this album remains an anomaly in the country rock genre, a map in miniature of a moment in music, and warrants discussion as more than part of the Gram Parsons legacy
33 1/3 Funkadelic's Maggot Brain

33 1/3 Funkadelic's Maggot Brain

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George Clinton, like his idols James Brown and Sly Stone, was a genius at getting the most out of his fellow singers and musicians. Maggot Brain was in many ways Funkadelic's attempt to combine Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Electric Ladyland and Cloud Nine.


Matt Rogers has interviewed many of the surviving "original" members of P-Funk, including Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas, Billy "Bass" Nelson, Bernie Worrell and George Clinton in an attempt to better document the group's oral history. He has access to many of the people who actually had a hand in the making of the album, and whose stories haven't really been told. The earlier segments of P-Funk's evolution are often overlooked, with Maggot Brain being the pinnacle of this work.

33 1/3 Greatest Hits Volume One

33 1/3 Greatest Hits Volume One

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The writings in this book are extracted from volumes 1 through 20 of our 33 1/3 series - short books about individual albums. In here you'll find a wide variety of authors, albums, and approaches to writing about those albums. So sit back, put on your headphones, cue up your favourite songs, and let our writers transport you to a time when:
Dusty Springfield headed south to Memphis to record a pop/soul classic;
The Kinks almost fell to pieces, and managed to make their best album while doing so;
Joy Division and their mad, brilliant producer created a debut record that still sounds painfully hip today;
James Brown mesmerized a sell-out crowd at the Apollo, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis;
The Rolling Stones shacked up in the South of France and emerged with one of the best double-albums ever;
The Ramones distilled punk rock into its purest, most enduring essence...

33 1/3 Greatest Hits, Volume 1: it's like a compilation album, without the filler.







33 1/3 Greatest hits, Volume 2

33 1/3 Greatest hits, Volume 2

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The second compendium of extracts from Continuum's acclaimed and successful 33 1/3 series, Volume 2 features 20 sharp, savvy and very different writers' takes on albums by Neutral Milk Hotel, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, the Pixies, the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, R.E.M, the Band and many more. A perfect gift for the music lover in your life!
33 1/3 Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future

33 1/3 Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future

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Even at four in the morning, the strip clubs and watering holes surrounding the Honolulu studio were still hopping. The recording engineer heard a car pull into the lot, and soon the biggest man he had ever seen walked in. When he stepped into the studio, the floated floor shifted beneath the engineer's feet. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole engulfed the engineer's hand in his and said, Hi, bruddah.
The product of that impromptu recording session, a delicate medley of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World, has driven sales of Facing Future to nearly two million copies. Each time the medley is licensed to appear in advertisements, in movies, even on American Idol, Mainlanders embrace it anew as a touch of the unfamiliar in their otherwise staid record collections. But in Hawai'i, a state struggling with the responsibility of its native heritage, Facing Future is much more. Gaining unprecedented access to Israel's family, friends, and colleagues, Dan Kois tells the remarkable story of Bruddah Iz and the album that changed his life-and his death.

33 1/3 James Brown's Live at the Apollo

33 1/3 James Brown's Live at the Apollo

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In this remarkable book, Douglas Wolk brings to life an October evening in 1962, at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem - an evening at the height of Cold War tensions. In great detail, Wolk pieces together what took place (and what was recorded) that night, and illustrates beautifully the enduring power of one of James Brown's - and popular music's - defining moments: Live at the Apollo.
33 1/3 Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark

33 1/3 Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark

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Court and Spark is Joni Mitchell's most overt attempt at making a hit record, full of glossy production, catchy choruses, and even guest stars from every stratum of rock culture, high (Robbie Robertson) and low (Cheech and Chong). The record was a smash, reaching number two on the charts in March of 1974, spawning three hit singles; Help Me, Free Man in Paris
and Raised on Robbery and cementing Mitchell's position as a commercial as well as an artistic force. Sean Nelson, a well known musician himself (Harvey Danger, the Long Winters), is particularly well equipped to understand all the elements that went into the making of this classic album, and he does so with clarity and wit.

33 1/3 Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

33 1/3 Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

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Ignored by virtually everyone upon its release in November 1968, 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' is now seen as one of the best British albums ever recorded. Here, Andy Miller traces the perilous circumstances surrounding its creation, and celebrates the timeless, perfectly crafted songs pieced together by a band who were on the verge of disintegration and who refused to follow fashion.

EXCERPT
'Big Sky' contains some of the most beautiful, thunderous music The Kinks ever recorded, aligned to a vulnerability and warmth no other group - and I mean no other group - could ever hope to equal. It is a perfectly balanced production. On the one hand, the mesh of clattering drums and electric guitar never threatens to overwhelm the melody; on the other, the gossamer-light harmonies, Ray and Dave's vocal line traced by Rasa Davies' wordless falsetto, are bursting with emotion. When most of the instruments drop away at 1.20, the effect is effortlessly vivid - two lines where Davies' performance is both nonchalant and impassioned. The result is wonderfully, enchantingly sad, made more so perhaps by the knowledge that The Kinks will never again sound so refined or so right.

33 1/3 Led Zeppelin

33 1/3 Led Zeppelin

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In this wickedly entertaining and thoroughly informed homage to one of rock music's towering pinnacles, Erik Davis investigates the magic-black or otherwise-that surrounds this album. Carefully peeling the layers from each song, Davis reveals their dark and often mystical roots-and leaves the reader to decide whether [FOUR SYMBOLS] is some form of occult induction or just an inspired, brilliantly played rock album.

Excerpt:
Stripping Led Zeppelin's famous name off the fourth record was an almost petulant attempt to let their Great Work symbolically stand on its own two feet. But the wordless jacket also lent the album charisma. Fans hunted for hidden meanings, or, in failing to find them, sensed a strange reflection of their own mute refusal to communicate with the outside world. This helped to create one of the supreme paradoxes of rock history: an esoteric megahit, a blockbuster arcanum. Stripped of words and numbers, the album no longer referred to anything but itself: a concrete talisman that drew you into its world, into the frame. All the stopgap titles we throw at the thing are lame: Led Zeppelin IV, [Untitled], Runes, Zoso, Four Symbols. In an almost Lovecraftian sense, the album was nameless, a thing from beyond, charged with manna. And yet this uncanny fetish was about as easy to buy as a jockstrap.

33 1/3 Lucinda Williams

33 1/3 Lucinda Williams

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Recorded over just a few days in a tiny Santa Monica studio, Lucinda Williams' self-titled album but was the result of an intense three years in the life of a then-unknown songwriter and her band, playing tiny L.A. dives, building up a local following, and honing their songs. In those years, Williams has said, "a magical thing happened." Featuring interviews with Williams and her band, Lucinda Williams gives you, for the first time, the complete inside story of the making of this amazing album.
33 1/3 Nas' Illmatic

33 1/3 Nas' Illmatic

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Nas was playing a role on Illmatic, even if it was himself. By constructing this persona, Nas not only laid out his own career for the next decade plus, but the careers of dozens of other rappers who were able to use their considerable skills to develop similar personas. His brazen ambition has become a road map for every rapper who hopes to reach an artistic peak. It seems right that Nas would make Illmatic at the age when maturity begins to turn boys into men. This was, in many regards, the first album of the rest of hip hop's life.

A decade and a half ago, Illmatic launched one of the most storied careers in hip hop, and cemented New York's place as the genre's epicenter. With this in-depth look at the record, Matthew Gasteier explores the competing themes that run through Nas's masterpiece and finds a compelling journey into adulthood. Combining a history of Nas's early years with interviews from many of the most important people associated with the album, this book provides new information and context for what many consider to be the greatest hip hop record ever made.

33 1/3 Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine

33 1/3 Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine

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What is the world that Nine Inch Nails made, and what was the world that made Nine Inch Nails? These are the questions at the heart of this study of the band's 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine.
The album began as after-hours demos by mercenary new wave keyboardist Trent Reznor, and was disciplined into sparse industrial dance by a handful of the UK's best industrial producers. Carr traces how the album became beloved in the underground, found its mass at Lollapalooza, and its market at the newly opened mall store Hot Topic. For fans, Nine Inch Nails was a vehicle for questioning God, society, the family, sex, and the body. In ten raw, heartbreaking oral histories woven through the book, fans living in the post-industrial Midwest discuss the successes and failures of the American dream as they are articulated in Nine Inch Nails' music. Daphne Carr illuminates Pretty Hate Machine as at once singular and as representative of how popular music can impact history and change lives.

33 1/3 Pavement's Wowee Zowee

33 1/3 Pavement's Wowee Zowee

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Pavement wrapped up at Easley Recording in Memphis. They mixed the tracks and recorded overdubs in New York. They took a step back and assessed the material. It was a wild scene. They had fully fleshed-out songs and whispers and rumors of half-formed ones. They had songs that followed a hard-to-gauge internal logic. They had punk tunes and country tunes and sad tunes and funny ones. They had fuzzy pop and angular new wave. They had raunchy guitar solos and stoner blues. They had pristine jangle and pedal steel. The final track list ran to eighteen songs and filled three sides of vinyl.

Released in 1995, on the heels of two instant classics, Wowee Zowee confounded Pavement's audience. Yet the record has grown in stature and many diehard fans now consider it Pavement's best. Weaving personal history and reporting-including extensive new interviews with the band-Bryan Charles goes searching for the story behind the record and finds a piece of art as elusive, anarchic and transportive now as it was then.

33 1/3 PJ Harvey's Rid of Me: A Story

33 1/3 PJ Harvey's Rid of Me: A Story

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Rid of Me joins Music From Big Pink by John Niven and Meat is Murder by Joe Pernice as one of three fictional titles in the 33 1/3 Series, and tells the story of Kathleen and Mary, two women who find themselves alone in a house in the middle of the dark, forbidden forest that borders their depressed valley town. Amidst a dramatic natural setting, they negotiate their freedom, their pasts, their survival, and each other. Rid of Me is a story of escape and desire, violence and gender, landscape, family, and memory. It's a twisted fairy tale, a queer dystopia/utopia, and a lyrical exploration of kidnapping, dreams, murder, sex, revenge, and love.

Kate Schatz's Rid of Me is at once a wholly original work of fiction and an innovative meditation on one writer's relationship to an album. The album in question is PJ Harvey's 1993 recording Rid of Me, a release noted again and again for its raw sound, dark lyrics, and unabashed presentation of female sexuality, desire, and rage. In her prologue, Schatz states that the book is not about Rid of Me, but because of it and the book's 14 chapters (one for each song on the album) use the lyrics, moods, images, and characters to create something entirely different, yet intimately connected to the music.

33 1/3 Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

33 1/3 Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

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Christopher R. Weingarten provides a thrilling account of how the Bomb Squad produced such a singular-sounding record: engineering, sampling, scratching, constructing, deconstructing, reconstructing - even occasionally stomping
on vinyl that sounded too clean. Using production techniques that have never been duplicated, the Bomb Squad plundered
and reconfigured their own compositions to make frenetic splatter collages; they played samples by hand together in a
room like a rock band to create a not quite right tension; they hand-picked their samples from only the ugliest squawks and sirens.

Weingarten treats the samples used on Nation Of Millions as molecules of a greater whole, slivers of music that retain their own secret histories and folk traditions. Can the essence of a hip-hop record be found in the motives, emotions and energies of the artists it samples? Is it likely that something an artist intended 20 years ago would re-emerge anew? This is a compelling and thoroughly researched investigation that tells the story of one of hip-hop's landmark albums.