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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Direct and Informative
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea has claimed a very special place in my heart, but I must admit I was a little sceptical when I discovered this book; I couldn't really see how someone could write anything about it that would really add anything to my enjoyment of the album or make for a really worthwhile read. However, my curiousity and the cheap price led me to a purchase,...
Published on 30 Dec 2006 by Joel

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wishy-washy style and lack of insight
Unfortunately this book is one of the weakest of the 33 1/3 series. So many of the others books are more engaging. Some put us in the head of people who were growing up at the time of a record coming out, others look in-depth at an album and a band. This book does neither, really being all about how they care for each other a lot and move from here to there to there in...
Published on 2 Mar 2008 by Simon Turner


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Direct and Informative, 30 Dec 2006
This review is from: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (33 1/3) (Paperback)
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea has claimed a very special place in my heart, but I must admit I was a little sceptical when I discovered this book; I couldn't really see how someone could write anything about it that would really add anything to my enjoyment of the album or make for a really worthwhile read. However, my curiousity and the cheap price led me to a purchase, and I was happily surprised.

It's obvious that Kim Cooper has just fallen in love with Neutral Milk Hotel's second album in the way that I imagine you have, if you're reading this. The writing is thoughtful and direct, and enthusiastic without being too immaturely praiseworthy of the album; the writer just seems passionate about learning as much about NMH as she can, and sharing it with you as you read. It's very engaging and in just over 100 to-the-point pages it covers pretty much everything you'd want to know, from the musician's childhoods, to how the band formed, to how the beautiful songs from In The Aeroplane.. arose. There's then a detailed section on the album itself, focusing on the songs and the artwork. Finally it gets onto what happened after the album was released and all the subsequent touring, and gives an explanation of why Jeff Mangum decided to step back out of the spotlight.

Most of the precise information comes from interviews carried out by Kim Cooper which are included seamlessly in the book, and she managed to find all the right people. The only key figure who doesn't contribute to the book is Jeff Mangum, but that isn't really suprising, and you imagine that Kim Cooper tried but eventually just respected his privacy.

You'll no doubt have gathered that this book is only going to appeal to die-hard fans of Neutral Milk Hotel and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, but if that's you this provides a fascinating and well-written glimpse into what went into such a tremendous album. Definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really amazing book, 17 Feb 2006
This review is from: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (33 1/3) (Paperback)
This is an incredible book. I bought it out of curiosity, as I'm a big Elephant 6 and Neutral Milk Hotel fan, but what I got is a book that is a very good piece of journalism which tells a rich story about a sensitive genius and the extended group of friends around him who helped him realize the full potential of the truly amazing songs that he wrote. This book starts with the often-repeated story of the core members of the Elephant 6 collective (Jeff Mangum, Robert Schneider, Bill Doss and Will Cullen Hart), before branching off to focus on Neutral Milk Hotel. Ultimately, it gives a very in-depth (but not over-long) account of how the band, and then the album this book is at face value about, came to be. I'm not usually a very fast reader, but I read this book in about a day, and I kept on coming back to it after putting it down, which is very rare for me. This is because, unlike most books, this book doesn't waste a single word in telling it's story, and plus it all really happened, which makes it even better.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable tome discussing cult classic..., 24 Feb 2006
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (33 1/3) (Paperback)
The 33 1/3 series is clearly a major contribution to discussion of popular music - excellent contributions thus far include Joe Pernice's 'Meat is Murder', Michaelangelo Matos' 'Sign'O'the Times', Andy Miller's 'The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society' & Bill Janovitz's 'Exile on Main Street.' There are some great titles in the series I'm going to get to at some point - 'Let It Be', 'Endtroducing', 'Murmur' and upcoming books on 'Loveless', 'Daydream Nation', 'Doolittle' & 'There's a Riot Goin' On'. Clearly devoting a book to one album is a great idea and antithetical to the listy phase of things at present or the fairly brief articles these days. Though I'm not sure books on 'Abba Gold' or 'OK Computer' are particularly interesting - everything has a flaw?
Kim Cooper's meticulously written book focuses on "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel, a record that surfaced in the late 1990s and became extemely culty. It is only with its reissue on Domino records last year that this cult has been addressed - its following in America is immense and it has become the kind of record websites and their cyber musings amass around. Personally the first time I heard the record I was slightly confounded, more to the seemingly cut-up lyrics which appeared to allude to WWII - I wondered if comprehending the lyrics would involve smoking something illicit and watching as much of 'The World at War' as is possible. Perhaps then things would be illuminated?
So, Cooper's book is probably an ideal primer to a great record - like some books on 'Ulysses' it can help crystallise certain ideas going on here. Cooper's book isn't a conventional track-by-track analysis like the 33 1/3 on '...The Village Green Preservation Society'- it focuses on the bohemian Elephant 6 collective that included not only Neutral Milk Hotel, but other acts such as Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control Apples in Stereo & The Minders. It's a reminder of an alternative commune like scene where people are into art rather than commerce and the array of influences that stimulated the artists behind Neutral Milk Hotel: Sun Ra, Robert Wyatt, obscure Folkways recordings, Alfred Jarry, John Coltrane, Amos Tutuola, Yoko Ono, Voltaire, John Cage, Haruki Murakami ('The Wind Up Bird Chronicle'), Steve Reich, They Might Be Giants, 'Pet Sounds/the original Smile', Os Mutantes, The Kinks, Charlie Haden, Beat Happening etc. Listening to "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" this makes sense.
Cooper traces the development of the conceptual band around Jeff Magnum and his colleagues, towards the NMH debut 'On Avery Island' (1996) and towards the album under focus. It's interesting to note how Magnum & co developed some of these songs live and also anecdotes like the girl who might have been the ghost of Anne Frank.
Yes, Anne Frank - how does she come into this? As long-time and not that long time listeners of "In the Aeroplane..." are aware, the album is a conceptual piece centred around the tragic figure of Anne Frank who left her timeless diary to the generations that followed. 'The Diary of a Little Girl' (the definitive edition) is the other book of supportive reading that will bring this album out for the listener. Cooper then follows through the story to the point Jeff Magnum wanted no more - and NMH ceased to exist. This book celebrates one of the great albums of recent years and a cult classic with a sizeable following the world over. Probably the best book of this excellent series I've read so far...
What album would I like to write a 33 1/3 on? - I'd probably plump for Swell Maps...in "Jane from Occupied Europe", Ride's 'Nowhere', Associates' 'Sulk', Dexy's 'Don't Stand Me Down', baader meinhof, Scott Walker's 'Tilt', American Music Club's 'Everclear' or Echo & the Bunnymen's 'Crocodiles'...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight., 26 May 2014
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Simply great. If you have any experience or relationship with "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" then I implore you to buy this book. I cannot believe I went all this time without knowing the full details of it's creation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wishy-washy style and lack of insight, 2 Mar 2008
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This review is from: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (33 1/3) (Paperback)
Unfortunately this book is one of the weakest of the 33 1/3 series. So many of the others books are more engaging. Some put us in the head of people who were growing up at the time of a record coming out, others look in-depth at an album and a band. This book does neither, really being all about how they care for each other a lot and move from here to there to there in the country, giving nothing in the way of vignettes to give us a glimpse of how they are or what it was like. The attempts at analysis finally come but there's such a lack of confidence and they are so sketchy that it's hardly worth it after all. In contrast, Meat Is Murder, Let It Be (Replacements), The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society and Doolittle are all a great read.
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