The 33 1/3 Book Series

Has anyone read any of these? My wife just got me the one for ‘From Elvis in Memphis’ for my birthday. I think I’ll be picking up a few more of these.⅓

Yep, they’re definitely worthwhile. The quality can be a little hit or miss sometimes, but they’ve really upped the selection and research standards in recent years too.

Dusty in Memphis by ol’ pal Warren Zanes is terrific. The Nick Drake Pink Moon book is very good as well. And I really got a kick out of Annie Z’s Duran Duran/Rio book a year or so ago.

I’ve found them to be very hit or miss, since they’re each by a different author and may have different focuses, like focusing on interpretation vs the history of how the album was created vs its cultural impacts, etc.

However, the Celine Dion Let’s Talk About Love one is fantastic. It uses the album as a jumping off point to talk about taste in general and how we experience music.

I’m not exaggerating when I say ai think it’s one of the like, top 10 most important books Ive read in terms of defining how I think about media.

I’m slightly disappointed in what I’ve read, thus far. I thought it would go more in-depth about the recording of the album itself, the studio, the recording sessions, the output, etc. The ‘Legacy Edition’ of the album has decent liner notes detailing things like that and I thought the book would expand on that information. Instead, it’s more of a track-by-track “interpretation”, for lack of a better word, with a sheen of English Major-level bullshit for good measure.

A whole lot of this series – if not all of it – is written as almost fan service. Written for people already familiar with many of the details of the work/artist in question. In fact, a writer friend I know of had three proposals rejected for being too much a history, and not enough “Told from a unique viewpoint”. They very much view the artist/album as a lever to open up a unique discussion/take on the subject matter.