Thirty-Three and a Third is a series of short aduiobooks about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the past 40 years. Over 50,000 copies have been sold! Franklin Bruno’s writing about music has appeared in the Village Voice, Salon, LA Weekly, and Best Music Writing 2003 (Da Capo). He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from UCLA, and his musical projects include Tempting: Jenny Toomey Sings the Songs of Franklin Bruno (Misra) and A Cat May Look At A Queen (Absolutely Kosher), a solo album. He lives in Los Angeles.
Intelligent and passionate, this meticulous examination of Elvis Costello's Armed Forces could only be produced by a fan whose obsession over details uncovers unique insights into Costello's work. Aside from providing critical analyses of the music and lyrics, Franklin Bruno connects the record to the political context of its moment and includes a thoughtful reflection on the controversial issues around race that shadowed Costello. Narrator Mark Boyett offers Bruno's insights persuasively, and his steady, congenial performance keeps listeners' attention focused on Bruno's words.
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The Best 33.3 Yet
I've listened to most of these 33.3 books - almost all are worth hearing - some (Dylan) are better than others (Pet Sounds) but this one is in a class of its own. This guy is to music criticism what Elvis Costello is to lyric-writing. The narrator is also brilliant - he sounds almost like the guy who narrates Infinite Jest. The combination of the two is like a shot of pure adrenaline to the brain.
In any case, this book is densely packed with deeply thought-out revelations about lyrics, music and the history of pop music. The "best positive" review nails it with "tour de force". The "best critical" review claims not to be able to get through after several tries. In my case, I can't stop listening to it. The first time you realize that you're only absorbing about 10% of the layers - just like an EC song, actually. Make sure to get the Ryko reissues with the outtakes and alternate takes because many of the choicest bits of analysis refer to them.
If the 33.3 people are reading this - more by Franklin Bruno, please.
- A. K. Moore