I've read a few of the 33 and 1/3 series of books discussing classic albums and found their quality to vary greatly. My favorite one so far is about The Kinks' "Are the Village Green Preservation Society". As a music geek, it really got deep enough into the actual recording of the songs to appease my curiosity and put the album in the context of the time it was recorded, both in terms of the musical culture at large and the lives of its creators. Franlkin Bruno's take on "Armed Forces" was informative, but it 's structure, alphabetically ordered to serve as a sort of glossary for the album, was an annoying gimmick. I got kind of bored with the history of REM's "Murmur" and didn't finish it, but that may have been my fault. As far as I could tell, I would have needed Finn's musical education to appreciate what the hell was going on in the book about "OK Computer". Though it's one of my favorite albums, I haven't messed with "Let it Be" by the Replacements since the guy from the Decembrist's apparently goes 30 or 40 pages before he mentions the record at all. So, they seem to be pretty uneven. With that in mind, I read My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" by Mike McConigal.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed it. He actually interviewed many of those involved with making the record, most importantly Kevin Shields, who was really the auteur behind the record as the book makes clear. Sometimes the tone is informal to the point of distraction, but generally it flies along easily enough and when he lets the actors speak for themselves it offers some true insights. There's some nice background on the group before it delves into the real meat of the book, the story of My Bloody Valentine making the record. It does a good job refuting some of the myths surrounding "Loveless" while also chronicling the difficult conditions in which it was made. It probably would have been just fine as a long piece in Mojo(I assume there's been one), but this little book will look cooler on the bookshelf.
In terms of things we've discussed here at Tropic of Food recently, the term 'rockist' is used of course, Shields notes he was influenced by hip hop and the author even mentions Ram Jam's "Black Betty". There's mention made of Mark Ibold, strippers in Portland, and Andy Cabaic of Vetiver/The Raymond Brake. So it's got something for everybody.
Next up, RB's review of Ulysses.