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Throbbing Gristle's Twenty Jazz Funk Greats (33 1/3) Paperback – January 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Daniel writes evocatively of his own experience with 20 Jazz Funk Greats, which he discovered as an adolescent looking for more extreme forms of music, but the best passages in the book are his Q&A's with the band members, who remain as confrontational and confounding as ever. (Stephen M. Deusner Pitchfork)

About the Author

Drew Daniel is one half of the acclaimed electronic group Matmos - successful in their own right, and also as collaborators with Bjork. Drew has taught the history of electronic music at the San Francisco Art Institute and a sound art seminar at Harvard. He has just moved to Baltimore, where he now teaches in the English Department at Johns Hopkins University.

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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 54)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826427936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826427939
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Miller on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have to admit some bias -- I grew up with the author and I am quite familiar with some of the places described in the book's lengthy and personal introduction. It's not often that one sees the themes and places of one's youth detailed and dissected for an audience that is not the people who shared those experiences to begin with. That said, Dr. Daniel does an excellent job dissecting the classic and maligned TG album. Each track gets its own chapter, of course, and the chapters are filled with recent interviews with various members of TG about the songs and their processes of creation. Daniel relies on his own encyclopedic knowledge of music, history, and art -- not to mention an uncanny ability to write clearly and specifically about music for a non-professional audience -- to fully paint the picture of this Throbbing Gristle album.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrea M. Feldman on August 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
Pop is, by its very nature, glossy and superficial, glancing off complexity and thorny ambivalences with blithe assurance.

With 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Throbbing Gristle attempt --in their own profoundly warped way-- to make peace with pop music's influence upon them; at the same time, the album plays out with such profound ambivalence --running hot and cold all at once, constantly vacillating between attraction and repulsion and back again-- that its exploration of "pop" becomes heavily weighted --its like a mille-feuille of ironic distance. Upon its release in 1979, TG's third full-length album was received with head-scratching condescension for the most part. Daniel's artfully written little volume makes the case for this strange, unlikable album and its often unpalatable charms.

Alluring and repellent in equal measure, the group's masterwork remains indelible for the ways in which it reworks the last vestiges of 60s optimism (as evinced in psychedelia and prog) with the darker, more ambivalent strains of punk and post-punk. In this way the band doesn't simply straddle genres but whole philosophical, moral and sexual divides. This is what makes their music so enduringly strange and repugnant --yet fascinating.

I fell into this book like Alice down an unfathomably dark rabbit-hole. It reads like a riveting detective novel, so concisely has Daniel (AKA one half of Matmos) woven personal history (both TG's and his own), (un)reliable narration (thanks to the members of TG themselves, contradictory bastards the lot of them), close dissection (a forensic/anatomic tack being particularly appropriate with TG) and overarching pop-cultural critique.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rich L. on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was skeptical of this book-I love this series, but this is NOT my favourite TG album. I'm more of a fan of "The Second Annual Report" and "DOA." But to his credit, the author has done a great job analyzing this album. He goes into detail about every aspect-the artwork, the songs, the reception to the album-and gives a highly readable dissection. There's new (at least at the time of publication) interviews with all 4 TG members, and his track-by-track commentary is spot-on. It may divulge into places TG fans may not care about or be willing to go to, but his attention to detail is unwavering. Personally, as an old punk who ventured out and discovered "industrial music", I relate completely to his intro piece to this book.
Unfortunately there is precious little TG reading material available out there at a decent price-do a search for "Wreckers Of Civilization" and you'll see what I mean-and as such this book is a great find for a good price. My ONLY complaint is that I feel he should have covered an earlier album. "20 Jazz Funk Greats" remains for me an ok album by a great band. But the passion he devotes to this album more than makes up for its deficiencies.
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Format: Paperback
This volume was my first introduction to the 33 1/3 series and will not be my last. It's a wonderful idea really - a small-scale study a classic album with some history, analysis, and criticism. As a musicologist myself, I'm strongly in favor of anything that helps people appreciate the music they love even more.

Drew Daniel (one half of Matmos) does a nice job balancing the analytical portions with the rather juicy sociocultural issues at work in "20 Jazz Funk Greats." On the one hand, we have thorough musical analyses of each song; and on the other, we have interviews and commentary that situate the music in its cultural, or counter-cultural, context.

"20 Jazz Funk Greats" is not the Throbbing Gristle album I would have picked for this series, but over the course of the book, Daniels convinced me that it was necessary because it is so often misunderstood. Where "Second Annual Report" is straightforwardly confrontational, "20JFG" is more subtle - its humor and wit are easily missed if one isn't armed with all the necessary cultural references.

My one criticism is that Daniel's musical analysis can sometimes be a bit unsophisticated; however, if he were to go into too much detail, he would risk alienating the casual reader. Although I would have liked him to go further, I'm sure the amount of detail he provides is just right for someone without a background in music theory.

If you like Throbbing Gristle, or experimental music in general, this is a great read. I guarantee that you will hear new things next time you listen. I'd also like to, one again, voice my admiration for this series of books. Even if Throbbing Gristle isn't your favorite, I would encourage you to find a volume on an album that you like and give it a shot.
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