33 1/3 editor Ally Jane Grossan talks about the series’ past and future

333 spines For those who love music and books, there's nothing finer than Bloomsbury's critically acclaimed 33 1/3, which examines individual, seminal albums, in pocket books that pack a punch. The 33 1/3 series celebrates its 100th book, on Michael Jackson's Dangerous, on Thursday, September 11 and will be having a party for its 10th anniversary on Thursday, October 2, at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn. Ally Jane Grossan is a commissioning editor at Bloomsbury. She edits academic books in the realms of pop music and sound studies and is editor of the 33 1/3 series, taking over from founding editor David Barker in November 2012. She is also co-editor of the forthcoming textbook, How to Write About Music. We spoke with Grossan via e-mail about the series and its history. What was the impetus to start 33 1/3? Was there a particular book or piece of writing that was the inspiration? David Barker started the series in the early aughts. I know that he got the idea from another book series that the previous publisher, Continuum, had on contemporary novels. That series, Continuum Contemporaries, was comprised of short books about beloved contemporary novels like Disgrace, High Fidelity, and The Buddha of Suburbia, among many others. David was inspired to apply that same formula to beloved albums of music. How were you involved, and how have you stayed involved in the series over the last decade? I became involved with the series like any sensible college student terrified of unemployment -- as an intern. A college professor of mine had penned one of the early books in the series and he put me in touch with the series editor at Continuum. I had read a few of the titles in the series at that point and was elated to be involved. That first summer, I eagerly took on reading projects and if I remember correctly, the first 33 1/3 manuscript I got to read was Mark Richardson’s book on Zaireeka. That internship turned into a full-time job as an Editorial Assistant the following summer. I was promoted up through the ranks and eventually wound up as the music editor when Continuum was purchased by Bloomsbury. Now in addition to the 33 1/3 series, I edit academic titles in popular music, sound studies and political theory at Bloomsbury, the new home of the series. book cover - 333 master of realityIn addition to journalists and other writers, you've had musicians scribe installments. What do you find they bring? The books in the series by musicians have two audiences. Black Sabbath fans are sure to pick up the 33 1/3 on Master of Reality, but because of the fact that’s it’s penned by John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, we've got a whole different fan base interested in that book. I now have a deeper appreciation for the Mountain Goats song "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton" off All Hail West Texas. Master of Reality is one of my favorite books in the series and takes a radical approach to exploring an album: fictionalizing it. How has the series changed from its initial concept -- was fiction in the early planning, for instance? I think David Barker's original concept was to really get to "the heart of matter" of great albums. When the series began, he had solicited proposals from writers he admired, but by the time the tenth or eleventh book came out the proposals were flooding in. There were so many creative approaches: fiction, guidebooks, memoir, etc. that the scope was expanded. During the last open call in 2014, I received almost 40 pitches with a "creative" approach including novellas, screenplays, one-act plays and graphic novels. Which album proved most difficult to produce a book for? The Clash's London Calling. Three different writers have been under contract to write this book over the years and not one has been successful. Are there any books you're still crossing your fingers to see written? If so, what are they? Definitely. Look for a wish list during the 2015 open call on 333sound.com. book cover - 333 let's talk about loveWhich book has proved to generate the most commentary (it's Let's Talk About Love, isn't it?)? Yes, it's Carl Wilson's Let’s Talk About Love. That tiny book spawned a whole new conversation about taste and snobbery. It's widely taught in college classrooms in freshman seminars, creative writing classes and by pretty much any cultural studies professor who comes into contact with it. I think it’s so successful because students react so strongly at first with, "Why the hell have we been assigned a book about Celine Dion?" But then after reading it, their concept of highbrow and lowbrow culture has completely warped. There were so many interesting reactions to the book that we brought out a separate new edition that includes essays by James Franco, Mary Gaitskill, Nick Hornby and countless others. What do you think of series such as Music On Film, which have applied the research / overview / pocket book concept to other genres? I haven’t read any of the Music on Film books but I just might have to pick up the Spinal Tap one. Is there one on Monty Python and the Holy Grail? There should be. I do like it when the 33 1/3 apparatus of a tiny, focused study is applied to other genres. Our media studies editor has just started a series on video game design with the first installment covering Shigeru Miyamoto. Coincidentally, I've just signed up a 33 1/3 on the soundtrack to Super Mario Bros. In academic publishing, we call that synergy (rolls eyes). Do you have any wild plans for the next ten years? Yes, we're going global! The possibilities for the series are infinite. As long as albums are being made, there are 33 1/3rds to be written. I receive so many brilliant pitches on Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Brazilian artists; the list goes on. So I'm teaming up with musicologists with various region-specific specialties to expand the 33 1/3 series to cover the greatest albums released all over the world. While our wide 33 1/3 audience may have never heard of artist like Yellow Magic Orchestra or Cui Jian, their influence in their respective countries is huge. Their albums deserve the microscopic 33 1/3 treatment and they'll get it soon! For more information on the 33 1/3 series, visit their website. You can RSVP to the 33 1/3 tenth anniversary party and find out more details at the Powerhouse website. Also -- for the entire month of September, Bloomsbury has all books in the series for $10 (33 1/3% off!). You can get them at Bloomsbury's store.

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book-cover-pop-cultAuthor and academic Rupert Till attempts to use his study Pop Cult Flagyl Alcohol Housewives, as a way of looking at various facets of the musical experience in terms of religion. The book's subtitle, "Religion and Popular Music" is slightly misleading, in that the book looks not at religion in popular music, or popular music's relation to religion, but popular music as religion. Till succeeds at times, 1000mg Flagyl Alcohol Housewives, but fails at others.

In analyzing Pop Cult, the book seems very academic, and the chapters are more like transcribed lectures than chapters in a greater work. Rupert Till has collected a lot of information here, Flagyl Alcohol Housewives india, but the presentation and interpretation leaves a lot to be desired. Had there been "so-and-so covers this in greater detail in another book" one more time, Pop Cult would have strained its credibility further, Flagyl Alcohol Housewives. Why Till didn't utilize the work done by other more often, rather than having the reader run to another piece of writing is a continual frustration.

Pop Cult is most successful in its chapter, "God Is A DJ," which examines the role electronic dance music culture (EDMC) plays in terms of religion. Till makes wonderful points in that the music is much like that of tribal religions, Flagyl Alcohol Housewives uk, relating the DJ booth as pulpit, and drawing many other connections between facets of world religions and their practices and how they relate to the dance floor. You can tell that this is a topic Till has a lot of affinity towards, and is a subject with which is deeply familiar. Flagyl Alcohol Housewives, Sadly, the rest of the book is not so fully formed as its penultimate chapter. The attempts made by the author to take various focal points of music (sex, Flagyl Alcohol Housewives coupon, drugs, death) and turn them into various cults emerge as less than fully formed objects. Each chapter is a series of statements (rock musicians engage in risky practices, they die, people venerate the dead) that are then summed up at the end, rather than worked upon and expanded on as the chapter progresses. While an interesting idea, 150mg Flagyl Alcohol Housewives, Till fails to definitively convince that (aside from EDMC) music can be a religion.

There's a handy reader that will let you read the book's introduction from publisher Continuum Books.

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book-cover-little-richardIt's unsurprising that David Kirby's Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll and Joe Bonomo's Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost & Found Side Effects Of Synthroid, were both released within weeks of each other back in November (and from the same publisher, Continuum). The similarities between the subjects are myriad, and each book references the other's subject with regularity.

For those unable to make the obvious jump, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were contemporaries, and the boogie-woogie piano was the basis on which each based their rockin' and rollin'. Both were also notable for their outrageous behavior - Little Richard's flamboyancy, Lewis' marrying his cousin, 50mg Side Effects Of Synthroid, Little Richard writing songs with fairly salacious lyrics, Lewis doing the same - but more importantly, it seems that both vacillated between the sacred and the secular.

As Bonomo aptly sums up the whole trouble, "Rock & roll was the devil's music," creating this dichotomy that lay at the heart of Lewis' music (as well as that of Little Richard) - "the twin pulls of Ferriday's Assembly of God and Haney's Big House, 500mg Side Effects Of Synthroid, light and dark, ascended and damned."

For Lewis and Little Richard, there's no removing the sacred from the profane. Little Richard took a lot of his performance from artists like Esquerita, sure - but he also developed his chops performing in the church, and appearing with gospel superstars like "dynamic gospel pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, from whom he learned more than one show-biz trick that he'd use later," as Kirby states in his book, Side Effects Of Synthroid.

book-cover-jerry-lee-lewisThis constant pull between the world of rock 'n' roll into which Little Richard and Lewis appeared, and the world of God into which they'd been born resulted in the repeated abandonment of rock for religion, which is unsurprising when viewed in retrospect. At the time, it must've been quite a shock to see someone like Jerry Lee suddenly playing in a Church of God assembly in Memphis, 20mg Side Effects Of Synthroid, where he "earnestly performed 20 hardcore gospel songs in an hour."

Both Kirby and Bonomo do a good job of portraying the struggle of their subjects with religion and booze, sex, and rock 'n' roll. As one reads, the story of the performer is laid out clearly, and one can see how their early church upbringing would later cause trouble when placed alongside the temptations of the flesh. Side Effects Of Synthroid usa, They're not without issues, however. Side Effects Of Synthroid, Kirby's book suffers from self-importance, wherein much of the book is rather meta, being as much about Kirby's relationship to the material being presented and his trials writing about it as it is about Little Richard himself. There's a lot of dross to wade through to get at the heart of the matter. Bonomo's book is a little more straightforward in its narrative, but bases the heart of the book around Lewis' seminal live album, Live at the Star-Club Hamburg.

By doing this, Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found falls prey to what happens with all books that deal with an album: books that deal with the story of an album hit a brick wall when they deal with the album itself, 250mg Side Effects Of Synthroid. The narrative stops dead for what is, essentially, a chapter-long album review, killing any momentum that has been generated up to that point.

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book-cover-acoustic-territoriesThomas Conner's recent "Music: Via Chicago" column on Brandon LaBelle Cialis To Buy New Zealand, 's new book, Acoustic Territories, makes it seem like the book is worth a look-see. While I'm more into books that examine the nature of the music being produced, or said music's sociological aspects, Cialis To Buy New Zealand us, rather than the physiological - a la Daniel Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music or Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia, 150mg Cialis To Buy New Zealand, for instance - I'm still interested in any writings that explore the nature of sound, just not to the extent of the more "story oriented" material.

However, 1000mg Cialis To Buy New Zealand, Conner says of the book: "LaBelle's study is pretty interesting, Cialis To Buy New Zealand ebay, dissecting the purely sonic value and meanings of street noise and music and charting the 'acoustic politics of space.'" For those more interested in the acoustic properties of sound, this seems like it's worth a look. It's out now from Continuum Books, Cialis To Buy New Zealand coupon.

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