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…

D’Angelo’s Age of “Soulquarius” – Part One

Some people dismiss astrology—the analysis of personality and human behavior based on the “sun sign” under which a person is born. But in the late 1990s, a group of striving, nonconforming musicians came together to share ideas and push each other to higher heights. Christened the Soulquarians, this unofficial collective bore enduring music as its fruit, including D’Angelo’s Voodoo, of which I wrote about for the “33 1/3” series. The Soulquarians were formed by D’Angelo, drummer/co-songwriter Ahmir Thompson— better known as Questlove—and other consummate Black male artists delivered under the…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 4: Royale with Cheese

Today is the last day of our B-sides author takeover, and we’re ending with a short and sweet essay by Evie Nagy, author of Devo’s Freedom of Choice. Her chapter in The 33 1/3 B-sides is all about Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction. Below, she talks about why the soundtrack has stuck with her for so many years… If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance you have an essay or two that you’ve been writing in your head for years, but for one reason or another have…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 3: Cupid & Psyche 85

Below you’ll find an interview between Dan LeRoy, author of The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, and now of the B-sides chapter on Scritti Politti’s Cupid & Psyche 85, and Scritti Politti frontman himself, Green Gartside! They discuss how it feels to listen to your own music, having Sir Elton John as a fan, and Gartside’s new music. All manner of albums are touted as influential, as difference-makers, as revolutionary. I submit that there are few that have had such audible influence on music as Scritti Politti’s Cupid and Psyche ’85.…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 2: Debbie Gibson and Waking Hours

Back in 2006, Alex Green wrote his 33 1/3, The Stone Roses’ The Stone Roses, one of our earlier 33 1/3’s that made the series what it is. Today, he writes about his fantasy romance with Debbie Gibson, and how Del Amitri’s Waking Hours pulled him back to reality. I didn’t know that my essay on Del Amitri’s Waking Hours would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the album’s release, but as I started writing and researching for the piece, that round number emerged and the whole affair seemed auspicious…

33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 1: Welcome to the B-sides!

This week is publication week for The 33 1/3 B-sides! We’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for a while now, and we cannot wait for everyone to read it. Throughout this week, we will be sharing some blog posts from the contributors of the book (all past 33 1/3 authors) discussing the albums that they still dream about today. Below, D. Gilson and Will Stockton introduce us to The 33 1/3 B-Sides… This is the week we welcome into the world The 33 1/3 B-sides: New Essays by 33 1/3…

Woman Crush Wednesday: Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe is our pick for this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday. 33 1/3 will publish a book on Monáe’s The ArchAndroid in 2021. It has been a time of triumph for Janelle Monáe. Last year, Billboard named her trailblazer of the year for their Women in Music awards. This year, Monáe will star in a biographical film about Harriet Tubman that is already generating Oscar buzz. Her album Dirty Computer was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2018. It quickly became a queer anthem, one that fits into…

Remembering Woodstock

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock! The music lineup for Woodstock was iconic. A myriad of the musicians featured in 33 1/3 frontlined the festival, including Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Sly & the Family Stone, and more. For instance, in The Band’s Music from Big Pink music writer John Niven tells a fictionalized but historically driven account of The Band’s 1968 album that helped to define Woodstock as a hippy mecca. With 50 years of Woodstock behind us, so many of our impressions of the festival…

Video Vault: Björk, “Big Time Sensuality”

Introducing our new “throwback Thursday” segment, Video Vault! On select Thursdays, we’re going to post our favorite music videos through the ages.  Our first video vault is Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality,” the fourth single from her 1993 album Debut.  “Big Time Sensuality” features a fresh faced Björk, dressed all in white, dancing on top of a truck driving through New York City. It’s not a swan costume, but it’s still pretty funky. Watching the video, one gets the sense that Björk spent way too much time meandering through Icelandic wilderness…