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My Bloody Valentine's Loveless (33 1/3) Paperback – January 10, 2007

3.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Want to impress your chums with your vast knowledge of contemporary classic albums such as Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation or the Stone Roses' seminal debut but don't have time to actually listen to them? No problem. Just pick up the relevent copy of the 33 1/3 series and hey presto, overnight musical genius'
(Stuff)

"Mike McGonigal's take on one of the biggest music geek albums ever is a brief and entertaining read that pulls the curtains back on this widely influential shoegaze classic. In-depth information on recording sessions and interviews conducted for the book with band leader Kevin Shields and his ex bandmate/lover Bilinda Butcher shine a blinding light on the album and why there was never a followup."-Under the Radar, Fall 2006
(Nick Hyman)

'"Loveless" by My Bloody Valentine is one of the best albums on Earth. The 33 1/3 Series...has done a brilliant thing by having McGonigal writing a wonderful book about the album.'
~ Todd E. Jones, The Tripwire


“Mike McGonigal’s take on one of the biggest music geek albums ever is a brief and entertaining read that pulls the curtains back on this widely influential shoegaze classic. In-depth information on recording sessions and interviews conducted for the book with band leader Kevin Shields and his ex bandmate/lover Bilinda Butcher shine a blinding light on the album and why there was never a followup.”-Under the Radar, Fall 2006
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Mike McGonigal has written about music and art since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance. An occasional curator, sculptor and DJ, Mike edits the arts journal YETI and resides in Portland, Oregon. He really needs to get out more.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; First Edition edition (January 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826415482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826415486
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.3 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A mesmerizing record such as My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" deserves a far better chronicling than Mike McGonigal's entry to the "33 1/3" series. With so much time, money, and effort having gone into the writing and recording of the album discussed herein, one would think that a fan or aficionado of said piece might deserve substantially more than a few personal anecdotes strung together with some text gleaned from "soft-ball question" interviews. One would, apparently, be wrong.

McGonigal's major folly has been duly noted in several user reviews on this site that appeared prior to this one; if I'm not mistaken, the headline below mine screams, "Too much McGonigal, not enough MBV." That's a pretty succinct summation. To be more specific, though, this book reads like a report written by an over-enthusiastic high-school senior who has just discovered the work of Lester Bangs, and it's pretty obvious that the author of this piece is excited to be writing something that he knows SOMEONE will be reading. Thus, it seems he lets his own ego gets the better of him.

Between gratitous and blatant name-dropping (bands/artists referenced on pages 6-8: Dinosaur Jr, Flipper, G.G. Allin, Throbbing Gristle, Charlie Patton, Lou Reed, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Maryanne Amacher, and the Sun City Girls; we get it dude, you like indie rock) and superfluous personal anecdotes (if you want to know what drugs the author was using or selling and when, check out page 17, which falls in the middle of a four-page "chapter" that's supposed to name and describe each of the individual tracks that comprise "Loveless"), McGonigal's narrative is a big, sloppy mess.
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I first pre-ordered this book several years ago. The fact that like the real album, it's release was delayed for literally years played out almost like a quaint homage to the album.

I also really enjoyed the book, but not for the reasons I usually enjoy this series. The book does have a lot of McGonigal's personal anecdotes, but I was able to look past those, because he made a damn good effort to speak to every member of the band (3 of 4 are represented in the text), people from the Creation lable, engineers, management and friends. Primary interviews make a world of difference -- why speculate about Kevin Shield's state of mind when you can ask him? Few authors in this series have gone the extra mile to deliver points of view from so many people involved with the album in question.

I also enjoyed getting what I consider the first real response from Shields about the huge cost and time consumption of Loveless -- even if he's wrong, it at least balances out the people who say he bankrupt the company (clearly he didn't help).

However, the book is really only partially about Loveless and only mostly focused on the time the album was being made. It's really a My Bloody Valentine book and as Loveless is their most important work and took up a huge amount of the time they were a band, it's the central issue. The book treads into technical and song writing territory to a certain degree, however I still don't have much of an idea about what Shields was doing in the studio, but that has as much to do with the way Shields answers the questions as how the book was written.

If you've read every Shields interview and think you know everything about My Bloody Valentine, you can probably skip this book. If however, you want to read everything you need to know about them in an afternoon -- pick it up, it's a very enjoyable, if somewhat disjointed read.
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Format: Paperback
Like many others, I was really excited when I found out the excellent 33 1/3 series was doing a book on Loveless. I have been a fan for years, and still count it high on my list of best albums of all time. There is some good info in this book, but the author comes across as relatively annoying in his presentation. The book is badly organized, even ending with a chapter about an unrelated band!

In the book McGonigal even mentions that it had to be rewritten because MBV's Kevin Shields disagreed with the first version of it.

If you love the album, you will think the book is OK. Just be ready to ignore the author occasionally.
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Unfortunately this author feels the need to inject himself into the story. At least a third of the book made me just cringe as I read about his drug habits, his preferences in strip clubs and conversations with the dancers there, his views on artists that are vaguely similar to MBV, and other trivialities that are just not related to this band or this album. Why certain 33 1/3 authors feel the need to do this is beyond me, as I want to read only about the band - the writers' histories mean nothing to me.

The attempt at technical investigation of the music falls flat into a series of contradictions. He starts to discuss the mixing process in mono versus stereo and leaves it wide open with no real conclusions or actual analysis of the mix. He mentions that the band modified their guitars' tremolo arms, but he doesn't explore how or why. When he starts to talk about the effects used on the album, he starts by saying there were no modulation effects but then after this the details about the reverb, tremolo, and multi-amp effects are just glossed over. More than once I wondered if the band members were simply playing with him and feeding him misinformation.

The worst hipster flaw is when he drops the name of the "808 bass sampling keyboard (making) squelches". The Roland TR-808 is an all-analog (zero samples, no keyboard) drum machine, and the Roland TB-303 is the bass synth that squelches (but has no keyboard and definitely doesn't sample). How this got messed up so badly is anyone's guess, but it just underscores that this author shouldn't go near technical music topics with a ten foot pole.

Ultimately this book is a loosely coupled collection of quotes from the band and other books written about them, and the author either doesn't understand how to interpret them or is just too enamored with the album to offer anything but fawning praise. I was hoping for so much more.

I would definitely not recommend this book.
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