New music book series, 33 1/3 Oceania, celebrates influential albums from Australia and New Zealand – News & Events

November 30, 2022

Since 2003, the world-famous book series 33 1/3 provides music fans with detailed, impeccably researched reviews of seminal albums by US, UK and European artists; now the series is expanding to include some of the most influential recordings by musicians from Australia and New Zealand.

Edited by UniSA Assistant Professor John Stratton (Senior Editor) and Melbourne-based music critic John Dale (Uncut), the new 33 1/3 Oceania the series – which is published by Bloomsbury – will shine a light on some of the most significant albums from the region, with three books currently in stores, eight other titles announced and many more in development.

“Each book is dedicated to one album, allowing a detailed look at each record, exploring not only how it was made or received, but also an analysis of the social and cultural significance of those albums,” says Prof Stratton.

“This range means we can look at albums that are important to far more than mainstream success, and in addition to covering some big names, the series aims to draw attention to many lesser-known and under-appreciated albums from Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the Oceania region.

Recently released, the first three titles in the 33 1/3 Oceania series demonstrate some of this diverse approach spanning Regurgitator Unit, To the Church Starfish and To John Farnham Whispering Jack.

“These albums are all important moments in Australian music, but for very different reasons, and none of them have been explored in the way this series has,” Prof Stratton says.

“Unit came from a certain DIY approach to music that was emerging in Queensland at the time, and the book captures that spirit, partly because it was co-written (with Lauren Istvandity) by Lachlan Goold, who produced the album.

Starfish ended in international success for The Church, but it was a starting point and a turning point for the band, and Chris Gibson’s book on the album reveals a lot about the world at the time.

“And while John Farnham is an Australian icon, surprisingly little analysis has been written about him Whispering Jacksays Prof. Stratton.

This lack of analysis of an artist as significant as Farnham is a good example of this type of space 33 1/3 Oceania looking to fill, and author of To John Farnham Whispering JackProfessor Graham Turner, says the series provides an opportunity to look beyond commercial success.

Whispering Jack is still the best-selling album in Australia by an Australian artist and it turned former pop star Johnny Farnham into the great rock artist, John Farnham,” says Prof Turner.

“Despite all this, Australian popular music studies have little to say about John Farnham or Whispering Jack and so this book aims to address this omission by exploring the album, its role in the reinvention of its singer and its place in Australian popular culture.’

Eight further 33 1/3 Oceania titles announced for release in 2023 inclusive Bik Runga Drive, Kylie Minogue Kylie, The Dead C’s Clyma is mortaland Human weakness of hunters and gatherersthe latter being written by Prof. Stratton.

The series will then continue to add regular new issues, with The Calling of the Hilltop Hoods and Ed Kuepper’s Honey Steel Gold among titles in development, along with an eye toward a groundbreaking indie release 5MMM compilation album of Adelaide bands 1980, which will be written by UniSA Senior Lecturer Dr Colette Snowden, who is one of the founders of radio station 5MMM.

“This is an album created by Adelaide community radio station 5MMM – which is now 3D Radio – to fulfill its commitment to local content,” Dr Snowden says.

“When the station started, there was a significant commitment to playing Australian and particularly South Australian music, but then it became clear that there weren’t that many local bands with records – so the station set out to record them.

“The resulting compilation not only preserved an entire generation of bands that would otherwise have been lost, but also inspired other public radio stations across the country to do the same.”

While 33 1/3 Oceania series is written for a general audience, many of the contributing authors come from a range of academic disciplines and Prof Stratton believes this perspective makes the series slightly different from many music books.

“These books are definitely intended for all music fans, but because many of them also have an academic dimension, the series can explore some ideas and themes that might not be open to mainstream authors in a more commercial setting.”

“We partly expect these books to be used in cultural studies and popular music courses, and having that aspect of the series means we can look at a whole range of albums that would otherwise never be written about.”

“In that sense, much of what 33 1/3 Oceania what it does is record a lot of things for the future, and one of the things I hope is that the books will help people find music that they might otherwise miss.”

All editors and authors are available for interview.


Media contact: Dan Lander M: +61 0408 882 809 E: [email protected]

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