The resolutely minor genre of liner notes recently received a considerable boost in cultural stature when Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar decided to feature Nat Hentoff’s commentary on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan as the first chapter in their Library of America anthology Shake It Up: Great Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z. Hentoff was the most prolific producer of these simultaneously ephemeral and essential paratexts and it’s fitting that his introduction to the young Bob Dylan also introduces this collection of popular music criticism’s bid for literary respectability.
Like many if not most of us my musical memories begin with The Beatles. The four floating faces, half in bluish shadow, on the cover of Meet the Beatles! is the first album cover I remember. It’s a memory that comes back to me in a fragmentary spectrum of sounds, images, and words. Not surprisingly the first songs on side one echo most clearly and completely. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are more than memories; they are memorized. They persist as strips of sound in my neural networks corresponding note by note and word by word to the ridges and grooves along which the needle moved.
If you’re with me here, there’s a good chance you’ve been with Pearl Jam since the beginning—and you may have already asked yourself, “If this guy was interested in a tough period for the band, did he forget about Vitalogy?” It’s a fair question. The general consensus is that PJ’s third record represents equal parts soaring creative victory and spectacular implosion. The band members themselves tend to agree when they reflect on Vitalogy, as does producer Brendan O’Brien. In 2001, he said, the album was “a little strained.” Then he elaborated: “I’m being polite—there was some imploding going on.”
If you’re of a certain age and musical bent, the midnight record release party likely holds a special, nostalgic place in your heart. Because they’re where you scored some of the albums that shaped your youth and young adulthood. Because high school and college were decades ago, and the good stuff from that long and challenging era now shines brighter than the mistakes and regrets. Because, perhaps, you’re not sure if you’ve attended a release party since the turn of the millennium.
Vs. roils with fury—and at times, gently steams over the trappings of fame, human faults, and societal injustice. Tapestry is both an anthemic embodiment of second-wave feminism and an apotheosis of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter sound and scene. To coincide with our latest releases, authors Clint Brownlee and Loren Glass continue to explore these two albums, expanding upon their work right here on the blog.
This month, the Bloomsbury Academic podcast takes a look at episodes that amplify Black voices and celebrate Black art and history. Listen in as Ayanna Dozier, Ana Lucia Araujo, Faith Pennick, and Ayanna Thompson discuss everything from slavery and collective memory to the history of representation in the music and theater industries to modern forms of expression and empowerment. These are four conversations you won’t want to miss, including two interviews with our 33 1/3 authors.
In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of the most important musicians in Black history and culture. From classics like Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin to modern icons like Kanye and Janelle Monáe, our newest playlist has a little something for everyone. We’re featuring some of our favorite 33 1/3 artists alongside some of the most recent additions to the series and exciting upcoming releases. Listen now on Spotify and learn more about our latest books.
Need a soundtrack to make your holiday a little merrier? Check out our newest 33 1/3 playlist! Featuring some of our favorite 33 1/3 artists and highlighting some of the most recent additions to the series, these songs will provide the perfect background to all your tree-decorating, cookie-baking, and present-opening festivities. Listen now on Spotify and learn more about the latest books in the series, including our 150th 33 1/3. Happy holidays!
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…
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.