Nine Reasons Why I Chose to Write a Book About 24-Carat Black’s Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth

Zach Schonfeld on the significance of 24-Carat Black’s legacy I realize that 24-Carat Black’s 1973 soul-funk masterpiece may seem like an unlikely choice for the 33 1/3 treatment. I also realize that much of the target audience for this book series may not be especially familiar with 24-Carat Black. As I write in the book’s introduction, “Its influence is largely invisible. It never sold ten million copies. It doesn’t show up on Rolling Stone lists of the 500 greatest albums of all time. At the time of writing, it doesn’t…

Beyond 24-Carat Black: A Sample Revenue Reading List

Zach Schonfeld on the various dimensions of sampling When I tell people about my book about 24-Carat Black, I often mention that the group’s music has been sampled hundreds of times throughout hip-hop. If you’ve listened to, say, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, or Nas’s double-platinum album It Was Written, you’ve heard bits and pieces of 24-Carat Black. But the surviving members of 24-Carat Black haven’t received royalties for those samples, even when the samples were legally cleared. The latter half of my 33 1/3 book explores both the creative and legal…

An Interview with 24-Carat Black’s Saxophonist and Road Manager

Zach Schonfeld in conversation with Jerome Derrickson While researching and reporting my 33 1/3 book about 24-Carat Black’s progressive funk masterpiece Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, I tracked down and interviewed ten surviving members of 24-Carat Black. (Some from the group’s original lineup, others from the group’s Chicago-based second lineup.) These interviews were long and fascinating, full of vivid recollections of 24-Carat Black’s unusual rise and fall, but—for obvious reasons of space and narrative flow—I could only quote small portions of them in the book. So I figured I could use this…

Announcing the newest 33 1/3s

Today’s the day! We are thrilled to announce the next batch of 15 books for the 33 1/3 series. From Kendrick Lamar to Britney Spears to Earth, Wind & Fire, we have a variety of new artists and albums to add to the series lineup. We look forward to seeing what our brilliant authors have to say about their music.  We received many outstanding proposals, which we delighted in reading and discussing. As always, it was difficult to select just 15. We are continually impressed by your dedication to music…

When Frankie Shot Johnny

Image of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Santi Elijah Holley on the story of Allen Britt and Frankie Baker While most murder ballads traditionally center on the murder of a woman by a man, a few notable ballads flip the script. The most immediate one that comes to mind is, of course, the classic ballad of the spurned woman, “Henry Lee” (or “Love Henry,” as it’s also known), which Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds included on their album Murder Ballads. Though not referenced on Murder Ballads, one of the most popular and widely adapted ballads in…

The Love and Tragedy of Henry Lee

Santi Elijah Holley on the story behind Nick Cave and PJ Harvey’s ballad duet For young Americans living under the specter of the Cold War and imminent nuclear annihilation, where the ideological divide between younger and older generations was growing wider and wider, an obscure collection of bluegrass, country, folk, blues, and gospel music was a surprising choice as a countercultural “bible.” But that’s exactly what Greenwich Village folksinger Dave Van Ronk called the Anthology of American Folk Music, the six-LP collection of eighty-four songs that had originally been recorded…

The Legend of the Bad Man Stagger Lee

Santi Elijah Holley on the history of murder ballads In a saloon in St. Louis, Missouri, an African American man named Billy Lyons was shot dead by an African American man named Lee Shelton, also known as “Stagger Lee,” following a dispute over a Stetson hat. This murder was otherwise unremarkable—it was one of five murders in St. Louis on that Christmas night in 1895—but the cold-bloodedness of Shelton’s killing and the callousness with he walked away from Lyon’s prone body quickly spread by word-of-mouth, with each successive narrator creating…

ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW 33 1/3 BOOKS + UPCOMING AUTHOR TAKE-OVER!

Calling all music lovers, it’s that time of the year again! That’s right, today marks the publication of 3 new 33 1/3 titles—24-Carat Black’s Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads, and Elvis Presley’s From Elvis in Memphis,. And with this new batch of books, we are celebrating the publication of our 150th book in the series! All of our books submerge you in the world of performances and production while also exploring the history and culture beyond the music as you learn more about artists and the albums they created.  To coincide with these releases, we’re having the ultimate author take-over. Over the…

Enjoy your Halloween with 33 1/3!

Halloween cover image

Wherever you’re celebrating this year, whether you’re going all out in your favorite costume, planning a Halloween Zoom bash, or just chilling on the couch with a bowl of candy, you still need some spooky tunes to jam out to. Listen now by following our Halloween playlist on Spotify or using this compiled list, and be sure to click the links below to learn more about each artist and order your own 33 1/3.

ANNOUNCING BLOOMSBURY MINICAST: A SHORT SERIES WITH BIG IDEAS

Bloomsbury Minicast is now available. For this podcast miniseries, we invite Bloomsbury authors to discuss the politics embedded in their work, analyzing the subtle or not so subtle political qualities therein. Connections between the popular and the political, the national and the global, are forged in discussion of interdisciplinary books. Listen to our first episode featuring author Nina Jankowicz speaking about the politics discussed in her book How to Lose the Information War. And stay tuned for a new episode each week this fall! Politics are omnipresent. Politics affect everyone,…