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ZaireekaZaireeka
Mark Richardson
(Continuum)

It’s no secret that we are jolly fond of the 33 1/3 series of books here at TM-Towers and the 68th release, dedicated to the Flaming Lips four CD folly Zaireeka, shows no let up in quality, in fact Mark Richardson’s little gem is one of the finest releases to date. For those that are unaware of the album(s) Zaireeka was released in 1997 as four separate CDs intended for playback at the same time, which of course meant that four CD players, eight speakers and four hands were required to make it function properly. This was of course an idiotic undertaking, and, as Richardson so ably outlines, also nothing short of inspired. In these days when everything has to fit on nano-sized technology to release a piece of music that needs a small audience to work it is, frankly, brilliant. Richardson joins in with the general theme by breaking the story into four chapters (all with eight sections to mirror the albums tracks), and it does exactly what you would hope these books do, leaves you desperate to hear the album(s), now if I just had three friends…
The Oracle

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Warren Zevon I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon
Crystal Zevon (HarperCollins)

Capable of brutal wit and affecting poignancy, Warren Zevon was an original singer/songwriter whose death from lung cancer at the age of 56 in 2003 was horribly premature. Mind you, read this compelling oral biography collated by Warren’s former wife and lifelong confidante, Crystal Zevon, and you might wonder how on earth he made it past 30. Urged by her ailing ex to tell the whole truth – “even the awful, ugly parts” – Crystal has more than met her brief, using a variety of contributors (including long-time champion Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and novelist/collaborator Carl Hiaasen) to tell the story of a career whose greatest peak in the late ‘70s was undermined by chronic, sometimes violent alcoholism. Having finally come off the sauce in the mid ‘80s, Zevon’s addictive personality found new outlets in a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder (buying numerous identical shirts from multiple stores being just one example) and a frankly staggering level of sexual promiscuity. Increasingly grumpy – and understandably so – at the fact that his fine later work did not enjoy greater sales, the sad subtext of this gripping book is that Zevon seemingly found little calm in life either before or after his tragic diagnosis.
David Davies

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