Monday, March 27, 2006

Book No. 4: Love's Forever Changes by Andrew Hultkrans (33 1/3)
Book No. 5: Elvis Costello's Armed Forces by Franklin Bruno (33 1/3)

In preparing myself to start working on my book, I thought it best to read a few more 33 1/3 titles, and these two, which I'd been wanting to read, seemed the most promising choices. I read Forever Changes back around the end of January/early February and Armed Forces through the middle of February, so my impressions are a bit duller than they were when I had just finished the books.

Hultkrans's book is much more enjoyable than Barney Hoskins's Arthur Lee book, which I read last year, although he uses Hoskins as a source. Hultkrans is mainly concerned with the voice of Forever Changes, a voice he calls prophetic in the Old Testament sense. I'm a little distanced from my initial impressions now, but I have a new, greater appreciation for the lyrics of the album, which I had already thought fantastic. "Live and Let Live," in particular, sounds even more like the end of the world, and maybe it is.

Bruno's book doesn't seem to have a central thesis about the album, but is full of fascinating little details and detours (rather like Bruno's music, I think) and similarly heightened my appreciation for an album already near the top of my personal pantheon. One of my brother music geeks described this one as the greatest 33 1/3 book thus far. I don't think I'm willing to go that far, but it's certainly a damn sight better than the one on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, and definitely in my top rung.


sfp 12:19 AM, March 29, 2006  

Which one would you argue is better than Armed Forces? (Besides, of course, the upcoming Shoot Out the Lights.)

Going through the ones I've read: Meat Is Murder I'm on the fence about: it's nicely written, but not really what I'm looking for from the series; Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Village Green Preservation Society, and VU & Nico are really nothing more than MOJO features writ large--competently written and informative but not really telling me anything I didn't know before; Aqualung is more of the same, but I give it points for (1) moderately hardcore musical analysis, and (2) arguing forcefully for something so uncanonical; Sign 'o' the Times is an engaging, breezily written and integrates the personal recollections with the criticism better than anything I've mentioned so far; and Live at the Apollo is wonderful: it pulls together a whole lot of nuts-and-bolts factual material which I was unfamiliar with, and does a great job of evoking James Brown in all his multifariousness, and tying it all together with the Cuban Missile Crisis is a genius move--it's the only other book in the series at Armed Forces' level.

Hayden Childs 2:13 PM, March 29, 2006  

I haven't read Aqualung, Sign O' The Times, or Live at the Apollo.

I'd put both In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and Forever Changes slightly ahead of Armed Forces, though. All three have arguments that alter the way I hear those albums, but, well, maybe it's just my personal affinity for the former two albums over EC's, but they both seemed to hang together as a whole better than Armed Forces.

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