It’s open-call submission time over at 33 1/3 again. Although my last proposal (for Throwing Muses’ debut) wasn’t picked up, I’d like to try again. I’m still kicking around a number of ideas and have yet to settle on a single album. At any rate, it’s gotten me to thinking about my favorite volumes in the series —namely, which approaches seemed to click with me, which definitely didn’t.
I’ve by no means read every book in the series. Of the fifteen or so that I’ve tackled, it’s surprising that some of the treatments I was most looking forward to —The Velvet Underground and Nico,Unknown Pleasures, Loveless— were the flattest and least involving. Was this a case of there being nothing left for me to discover about these records? Did I simply know them too well? Perhaps. After all, some of the most enjoyable books were for albums about which I had only the barest of knowledge (The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Low). But it wasn’t necessarily the case.
Simply put, the most successful books didn’t pull any punches. They tempered research and analysis with authorial connection and an overarching narrative pull, resulting in a critical reaction as visceral and immediate as the album that inspired it. Given that baseline, the book was free to be as straightforward or as experimental as it pleased —from Drew Daniel’s fascinating exegesis of Throbbing Gristle to Kate Schatz’s dark novella-length interpretation of Rid of Me.
I’m not sure where my first proposal went awry. Hopefully it was visceral and connective enough. I like to imagine that it fell down on the sheer basis of commerciality. But who knows? I suspect that any album I’d deem worthy of book-length treatment would hardly be salable. (Prolapse’s Pointless Walks to Dismal Places, anyone?) Is that going to stop me from trying again? Hell, no.
Proposal thoughts? Past favorites?
David Bowie, “Heroes/Helden” (Hugo Wilcken’s Low)
The Velvet Underground, “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” (live at the Gymnasium)(Joe Harvard’s The Velvet Underground & Nico)
Throbbing Gristle, “Hot on the Heels of Love” (Drew Daniel’s Twenty Jazz Funk Greats)