Pride and Pop’s Queen Mom

Matthew Restall, on the story of Elton’s coming out. Elton John has famously described himself as “the most famous poof in the world.” In Pride Month, as millions celebrate being out, who better to read about and listen to than the Queen Mom of Pop (as the British press have dubbed Sir Elton)? Actually, this year, as some Pride parades merge with BLM marches, many of us will be reflecting on the significance of present-day pioneers like Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X; or on the experiences of gay black…

Talking Sides

Matthew Restall on the four glorious sides of Blue Moves. You may be unlikely to listen to a double album today as exactly that—a set of four sides of vinyl. And there is nothing wrong with streaming it as a single sequence of eighteen tracks (re-sequencing or editing the album is a trickier issue, as I discuss in my Blue Moves book). But it is worth considering why an album from the vinyl era was assembled the way it was—in the case of Blue Moves, by its brilliant producer, Gus…

Reg vs Elton and Other Contradictions

Matthew Restall, author of Elton John’s Blue Moves, on the many contradictions of Elton John. Contradictions are at the heart of rock and pop music. Its genres and its culture are laced with paradoxes. The personality, career, and music of Elton John are no exception. Here are a trio of such contradictions that particularly fascinate me and are reflected in my Blue Moves book. 1. Name changing is an experiment in alchemy. The intention is for the new persona to replace, even erase, the old. For Reginald Kenneth Dwight, it…

It Isn’t Yellow (and That’s Ok)

Matthew Restall, author of Elton John’s Blue Moves, on why he didn’t write a 33 1/3 on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Early in my Blue Moves book I ask the question that Elton fans almost always ask me when they discover that there is a 33 1/3 book on a John album: why did I write about Blue Moves and not Goodbye Yellow Brick Road? Yellow has sold ten times as many copies as Blue. It is the only John album consistently ranked in listings such as Rolling Stone’s Greatest…

Four Corners of an Elton John Square

Matthew Restall, author of Elton John’s Blue Moves, on the nuances of a beloved pop icon.  “I’ve probably had the greatest year of my career, at 72 years of age. I’m thrilled!” So declared Sir Elton John as 2019 drew to a close. He may have been right. At that moment, his 3-year, 330-gig sold-out farewell tour (since suspended by the pandemic but sure to return and grow) racked up its two millionth attendee. His autobiography, Me, sat comfortably atop best-seller lists. The biopic Rocketman proved to be a global…

New 33 1/3 books out today! An Elton and Judy double feature?

During this time of quarantine and isolation, we’re all trying to figure out how to stay connected and engaged with the world around us. Of course, one of the biggest ways we are doing that is by constantly consuming and sharing content. Where would we be if we didn’t have music, books, and television to provide a steady stream of entertainment and comfort? It sometimes seems like a lot of what we have to look forward to on a day-to-day basis can revolve around these exact things, so to coincide…

OPEN CALL 2018 RESULTS: THE 15 NEW BOOKS IN THE 33 1/3 SERIES

First and foremost, thanks again to everyone for your hard work on your proposals, and for your patience. We received some truly outstanding proposals and it was very tough to make the final call, but we are very excited with what we have planned! We are pleased to announce the next batch of 15 books for the series. We have a great range – everything from Elvis to Leonard Cohen to Janet Jackson. Below you will find our brilliant new additions to the 33 1/3 series, which will be publishing…

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…

Playlist: Back-to-School in 2020

Back to school playlist cover image with album covers

Our own version of a 2020 playlist with a back-to-school twist! Whether you’re online or on campus, you’ll enjoy this mix of music while studying, planning or taking a well-deserved break. Follow our playlist on Spotify or check out this compiled list, and be sure to click the links below to learn more about each artist and order your own 33 1/3.