The 33 1/3 Series Plays The Hits

noah | March 30, 2009 1:00 am

After word that the final list of books being published in the latest installment of the album-per-tome 33 1/3 series would be delayed because of “economy-related goings-on,” series publisher Continuum released a 27-album shortlist on the series’ blog. The list was probably going to cause lots of head-scratching and Internet-based anger no matter what it was made up of, but its reliance on Big Albums And Artists That Stand The Maybe A Bit Rockist-Leaning Test Of Time (or, in the case of Metal Machine Music, the test of being a go-to punching bag for rock critics of all stripes) particularly rankled many members of the peanut gallery. The full list after the jump.

AC/DC – Highway to Hell Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace The Beatles – The Beatles Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo Dinosaur Jr: You’re Living All Over Me ELO – Out of the Blue Grateful Dead – Closing of Winterland Johnny Cash – American Recordings Kiss – Destroyer Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen Lil’ Wayne – Da Drought 3 Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville Lou Reed – Metal Music Machine [sic?] Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night Operation Ivy – Energy Paul Simon – Graceland Radiohead – Kid A Rolling Stones – Some Girls Slint – Spiderland Television – Marquee Moon Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes Ween – Chocolate and Cheese White Stripes – White Blood Cells Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth

It’s probably worth noting that Radiohead, Young, the Stones, Bowie, and Dylan (not to mention Reed, at least as part of the Velvet Underground) have already had 33 1/3 titles devoted to their output, which no doubt contributed to some of the hue and cry from commenters; after all, there’s no shortage of words written about most of those artists, and the 33 1/3 series, in the mind of many people, is not only supposed to chronicle Important Albums, it’s also supposed to reward good writing, and takes on music that don’t necessarily slot into previously established canons. (Right, James Franco?)

For their part, one of the series’ editors waded into the fray to reiterate that the proposal weighs as much on the final decision as the book’s topic does:

2. The proposal REALLY IS all we have to go on when making the decisions. Of course, the proposal has a few key components (author bio, how you would help promote the book, which books in the series do you admire, etc.) that are there for a reason.

But his point immediately following has to think that in this time of economic strife, the idea that the market for yet another book on Bob Dylan is a safer bet than, say, a book on Blackout or The Drift, helped sway the submission process at least a little bit:

3. To quote from David’s call for submissions: “My advice would be this: we are looking to sell some books. That’s the bottom line. If you are absolutely convinced that we could sell 4,000 or 5,000 copies of a book about your chosen album, then go for it.”

…and then there were 27 [33 1/3]

Tags: ,