33 1/3 Book Series : a must for all music fans

This series might be known from a few readers of this blog but as they recently reached their 100th volume, I thought writing a post on it was a way to share my never-ending enthusiasm.

33 1/3 Series

Edited by Bloomsbury in the US, the idea is a simple one : each potential author submits to the editor the name of an album on which he/she would like to write an around 150-page book, hoping he/she will be chosen. What started as a good idea with a bit of hope for success has now turned a must-to-have amongst music lovers. This series is now very successful and there are more and more suggestions coming from all over the world.

I personally bought my first volume in 2009 in Phoenix Arizona @ Stinkweeds store (Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” by Chris Ott – volume #9) and must admit my addiction to these series ever since. What is particularly enjoyable is that all authors have their personal means in telling their album stories and through many different ways : precise and analytical description of the genesis of the album, philosophical dimension around it, how it ties with the author’s personal story, etc…

Please find below a subjective choice of four volumes as really every volume is worth the reading :

  • The Smiths “Meat is Murder” by Joe Pernice – volume #5. In which Joe Pernice (singer of the recommended Scud Mountain Boys / Pernice Brothers) writes a novel about the presence of this LP around a kid/girlfriend storyline

  • Nick Drake “Pink Moon” by Amanda Petrusich – volume #51. In which the author discovers a song through a car adverting. That song happens to be sung by one of the greatest songwriters ever by the way…

  • Slint “Spiderland” by Scott Tennent – volume #75. In which the author tells the whole story of this 2-album band whose 2nd LP is a classic of the so-called slo-core scene. To understand what music really means for those who live it.

  • Serge Gainsbourg “Histoire de Melody Nelson” by Darran Anderson- volume 87. In which the author emphasizes the importance of this album for all music lovers and in particular the non French-speaking ones. I have never read a book that made you want so much to listen to the songs.


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