Fine Read About a Year In the Life of the Band

Fine Read About a Year In the Life of the Band
Reviewer: 2bitmonkey
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Sleater-Kinney's "Dig Me Out":
33 1/3 Series
152 pages
May 19, 2016
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Thirty-Three and a Third is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the past 40 years.

While I definitely enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to fans of the band, it is a pretty vanilla entry into the 33-1/3 series. By now I have read more than enough from this series to identify which ones are must-read, which are not-quite-must-read but take a fun or unique angle, which are fluffy histories of the band and/or album, and which are outright boring or bad. File this one under "fluffy."

For starters, the author does not discuss the songs on Dig Me Out. I don't object to one of these books being about more than the album itself, but to not even mention the name of a single song, let alone the lyrics, instrumentation, etc. is quite odd and leaves the book lacking. The book is not really about Dig Me Out the album; it is about a year in the life of Sleater-Kinney, that year being the one during which they added Janet Weiss as drummer and recorded and toured around Dig Me Out. The reason the book gets 3 stars is because that is a fine story in and of itself. It just isn't enough.

In terms of the content that the author does provide, it is interesting but repetitive. There is a basic background into the importance of Olympia as a birthplace for the band (other books do a much better job of explaining the uniquely fertile ground for music that Olympia provides - see for example, the 33-1/3 on Beat Happening). There is the story of the 8 day recording process, which as told is more of a fun anecdote than a crucial story point. (Had the author tied her observations to actual songs on the album, it may have been much better.) And then there is a lot - I mean a lot - about what it means to be women in rock who don't want to be perceived as women in rock but also kind of do. Whether it's told from the perspective of their coverage in the media, their treatment by club owners and sound guys on tour, or by their fans, it's all about the tension between being treated as powerful women in rock without being pigeonholed as women. Again, the stories are interesting and there is a valid point being made here. It's all just a little fluffy for my taste. Most of the work done here by the author is in taking quotes from media (including the band's own zine) in the late '90s. There were interviews conducted with each band member but they don't add all that much.

I liked "Dig Me Out" the book, but not nearly as much as Dig Me Out the album. For an easy breezy read about a great band, I recommend it. Unfortunately it didn't do the one thing I hope for in these 33-1/3 books - it didn't make me love or appreciate the album any more than I already did.