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Portishead's Dummy Paperback – Oct 6 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (Oct. 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441194495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441194497
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 1.5 x 16.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #63,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"A growing Alexandria of rock criticism - Los Angeles Times, 2008 Ideal for the rock geek who thinks liner notes just aren't enough - Rolling Stone One of the coolest publishing imprints on the planet - Bookslut"

About the Author

RJ Wheaton's writing on music, film, and literature has been published in The Oxford American, DaCapo's Best Music Writing series, and at, where he is Senior Producer. He currently lives in Toronto.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb43cdec4) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a8c6fc) out of 5 stars one of the strongest entries in a good series Jan. 3 2012
By jafrank - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is probably the single strongest book of the 7 or 8 I've read in the 33 1/3 series. Wheaton strikes an excellent balance between smart, wide-ranging formal analysis and open praise. His attempts to tease apart the individual sounds that go into making the dense, dark, beautiful world of Portishead's music made me rush back to listen to each track of Dummy over and over again, and marvel at just how remarkable their work is. But what is even more impressive is how he successfully shows the resonances between Portishead's music and broader trends in musical/cultural history. The way he hints at the remarkable, tangled web of connections; of technologies, people and geography, which operate both above and beneath our basic daily awareness and how much of Portishead's music does the same. The writing in this book is sharp, engaging and weirdly ominous. Kind of like 'Wandering Star.' I sincerely hope Wheaton writes more books in the future. The 33 1/3 series would be better as a whole if more people had Mr. Wheaton's wide ranging curiosity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a8c750) out of 5 stars Standout in an Extraordinary Series Nov. 28 2013
By Z. Stiegler - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm a huge fan of the 33 1/3 series. True, some are hits, some are misses. RJ Wheaton's exegesis on Portishead's Dummy is absolutely in the former camp.

Wheaton artfully weaves background on the album's composition and production with biographical information, all the while making a point to put the album into context - of the times, of its peers, of its genre, of its influences and impact.

The best entries in the 33 1/3 series do two things. First, they make you want to listen to nothing but the album under review for at least a week. Second, they elicit a new appreciation for the album, regardless of how well you know it, or how long you've been a fan. Wheaton's take on Dummy accomplishes both.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a8cb88) out of 5 stars A very good entry in the 33-1/3 series Oct. 11 2015
By too_old_to_be_so_indie - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read quite a few of the 33-1/3 series, and I think this is one of the best entries. It gives a great insight into the making of the album and also positions its creation within the greater musical trends of the time. My one disappointment is that the book presupposes the instance of a single "Bristol Scene" that existed around the time of this album; but the city is also important as home of two other scenes -- that of iconic indie label Sarah Records, and the more experimental sounds of the loose collective of musicians that included Flying Saucer Attack, The Third Eye Foundation, Crescent, Amp, Movietone, and others.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a8cb70) out of 5 stars Probably the best 33 1/3 so far... July 14 2014
By Shoop - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only that, but twice as long as some! It can be a bit starry-eyed and ponderous from time to time, but the greatest praise I can give it is this: I found Dummy to be my least-favourite Portishead record (so sue me, I just love the other two more). This made me reconsider and see Dummy with new eyes. I'd recommend it if it's your first entry in the series, but it may also set the bar too high - especially when crap like the Fear of Music book found their way into the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7a8cf30) out of 5 stars A deeply thought through, modern yet classical critique and exploration July 20 2014
By Paul Muller - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wheaton dissects the work of Portishead with the critical eye of eye of a micro-surgeon. No detail, musical nuance is missed and it makes going back to the music so much more enjoyable.

Be prepared to have a tablet or laptop handy to follow the many musical references he mentions along the way (it would be great if this were easier from within the Kindle version itself).