Spotify's New Audiobook Series Is About To Make Music Superfans Swoon
In exciting news for music fans, Spotify are adding a series of musically minded audiobooks to its streaming service. Bloomsbury Publishing have signed a deal with Spotify to make the cult 33 1/3 book series available as audiobooks, which users will be able to stream directly from the site or the app. Excitingly, Spotify's music audiobook series will land on the streaming service in the summer and the collection is vast; given there's so much to pick through, these are the titles you shouldn't miss.
For those who don't know, 33 1/3 is a series of slim books beloved by music buffs, with each text focusing on one individual and typically cult album. The title refers to how many times an album-length vinyl rotates on a record player in one minute: 33 1/3 rotations. The books offer critical reflections, stories about the making of a record, or something more creative, such as John Darnielle's take on the Black Sabbath album Master of Reality, which takes the form of a novella about a man being held on a psychiatric ward, attempting to recover his confiscated Walkman containing a tape of the album.
There are 131 books in the series, with takes on Patti Smith's Horses through to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and new books are regularly being added to the roster. The series kicked off with critic and musician Warren Zanes' personal take on the Dusty Springfield album Dusty In Memphis. While the content of the series is wonderful, there's certainly scope for it to become more representative; women and people of colour are seriously in the minority in the present list, and their work deserves the same critical attention as their male counterparts.
The list as it stands still features plenty of talented artists with fascinating stories, making it perfect for easy listening during the summer heat. These examples are the cream of the crop, and are worth downloading as soon as the series lands.
'Let's Talk About Love' by Celine Dion
Celine Dion's fourth English-language album, which was a vehicle for such hits as "My Heart Will Go On" and "Treat Her Like A Lady", is not an obvious choice, but author Carl Lewis parlays Dion's record into a broader treatise on the nature of taste and cultural snobbery, challenging himself to learn to love the singer in just a year.
'Homogenic' by Björk
Emily Mackay's book on Björk's seminal fourth album, Homogenic, combs through the challenges and triumphs of creating such a stylistically assured and avant-garde piece of music. Looking at everything from Björk's friends through to her love life, her process and the images she creates via her music, this is an essential read for fans of her and her work.
'Amazing Grace' by Aretha Franklin
Aaron Cohen's book on the best selling gospel album of all time meticulously traces the making of the record, the political and social impact of the album, and Franklin's songwriting process. Cohen delves into Franklin's upbringing, her minister father and childhood spent in church, and how this informed her music.
'Definitely, Maybe' by Oasis
Poet and writer Alex Niven explores the muscular optimism of anthems such as "Live Forever", "Supersonic", and "Cigarettes & Alcohol", thinking about Definitely, Maybe's relevance in the post-Thatcher era and the ways Oasis resonated with their fans, while not losing sight of their shortcomings.
'Court and Spark' by Joni Mitchell
This exploration of Joni Mitchell's most commercially successful album takes a deep dive into her painterly lyrics, often about men and madness, and investigates the stories that inspired them. Author Sean Nelson describes the heady '70s atmosphere the songs were written in and talks about the sharp pivot her career took following this record.
'Live Through This' by Hole
Music critic Anwen Crawford offers a slightly different but very powerful approach in her take on Hole's sophomore album Live Through This, invoking what the album and Courtney Love's lyrics meant to women across the world. Crawford speaks with Hole fans to get their thoughts on the record, with many confessing it prompted their feminist awakening.
'Sign 'O' The Times' by Prince
Music critic Michaelangelo Matos considers Sign 'O' The Times one of his favourite albums of all time, and in this book he lovingly investigates Prince's creative process and the story behind this record, alongside personal reminiscences about what the album has meant to him, at various times in his life.
So if you're looking to broaden your musical horizons, or are eager to soak up everything you can about one of your favourite singers or bands, these soon-to-launch audiobooks should neatly do the trick.