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My Take on the 33 1/3 Books Series

I final­ly fin­ished read­ing The Kinks Are the Vil­lage Green Preser­va­tion Soci­ety (TKATVGPS) Andy Miller’s con­tri­bu­tion to the 33 1/3 books series. It’s not a long book, but it took a minute for me to actu­al­ly get into it, even though the Kinks are prob­a­bly my favorite band of all time, and this album is of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance to me. Why? Well, like many of the books in the series, it’s not exact­ly the smoothest read.

The book’s struc­ture is strange. It first tells the sto­ry of how the album is made and the var­i­ous stum­bling blocks that the Kinks — or rather Ray Davies — ran into along the way. That’s the sort of sto­ry I’m inter­est­ed in read­ing and it was an engag­ing one. How­ev­er, once that sto­ry ends, it begins again, this time as a painstak­ing account of each song that was writ­ten and record­ed dur­ing this peri­od, along with some spec­u­la­tion about why it had or had­n’t appeared on the final ver­sion of The Kinks Are the Vil­lage Green Preser­va­tion Soci­ety. It does­n’t sound as bad when I write it here, but trust me, read­ing the same sto­ry told two dif­fer­ent ways smacked of a wit­ness per­jur­ing him­self on the stand.

Such is the rep­u­ta­tion of the 33 1/3 books series. Every author approach­es his or her book dif­fer­ent­ly, and even the most adven­ture­some  music fans approach the series with trep­i­da­tion. These are beloved albums after all.

Now comes word that the series itself has hit a snag due to the cur­rent state of the econ­o­my. I’m not sure any­one would be sur­prised con­sid­er­ing how both the music and pub­lish­ing indus­tries have fared late­ly. I just hope that Gee­ta Day­al’s Anoth­er Green World book sees the light of day. (Of course I’m root­ing for Christo­pher Wein­garten’s It Takes a Nation of Mil­lions book, too, but that’s in the more dis­tant future.) As author Dou­glas Wolk once (infa­mous­ly) wrote of 33 1/3, “the series that more peo­ple want to write than to read!” I guess that makes the 33 1/3 series the Vel­vet Under­ground and Nico of microniche music books!