An engaging and deeply personal journey, for both the writer and her subjects, and an adroit disquisition on the nature of...




Life among the Indiana Joneses of record collectors, who will let nothing come between them and a rare Charley Patton.

This new book by Pitchfork contributing writer Petrusich (It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music, 2010) proves once again that it takes a rare person to hunt for rarities, especially when the obscure object of desire is a classic 78rpm blues record. The author investigates both the history of blues and its literally fragile legacy. She joined professional blues travelers as they scoured the Earth for vinyl Stradivariuses, whether it was one of the two known copies of Tommy Johnson’s “Alcohol and Jake Blues” or the only copy anywhere of Solomon Hill’s “My Buddy Blind Lemon.” These people don’t just haunt record stores, yard sales, festivals and eBay; they go where no one else thinks to look, pursuing rare leads, taking out ads, spending sacks of money and weeks of time. Sometimes they strike gold—there are great stories of treasures hauled out of Dumpsters or from under beds—but mostly they just lose sleep over the one that got away. Petrusich caught the virus herself, and she examines the bigger picture. Is it all about the love of music, the thrill of the chase or something more disturbing? Are collectors like Freudian dissidents, seeking the kind of solace that can only be found in the original pressing of “Devil Got My Woman” by Skip James? Or is this all about personality disorder? Collecting old 78s “demands an almost inhuman level of concentration,” writes the author, and there is “a violence to the search, a dysfunctional aggression that vacillates between repellant and endearingly quirky. It’s intimidating to outsiders, and it feeds on sacrifice.”

An engaging and deeply personal journey, for both the writer and her subjects, and an adroit disquisition on the nature of this distinctly American form of insatiable lust.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6705-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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