A Seattle music fan is transformed from mere collector to museum curator.
There was a time not so long ago when collecting pop culture artifacts was a much less crowded field, according to music historian Blecha (Taboo Tunes, 2004). Then eBay came along and changed everything. Blecha doesn’t exactly resent this change, saying “you gotta go where the action is,” but Internet rarity-hunting nevertheless does come off as monumentally less interesting than combing through garage sales and dank basements for that obscure find. More of such stories, in fact, could have helped make this a significantly better read. The author documents his life as an itinerant musician who ended up working in myriad record stores in the Seattle area, jobs that helped further his sideline gig as collector of rock arcana, especially those relics relating to obscure and forgotten local bands and labels. Blecha is at his best when talking about all that was doomed to history’s dustbin, whether it’s 1920s-era jazz recordings or the seemingly innumerable garage bands who thrashed out everything from psychedelia to surf rock, punk and grunge. It’s unfortunate, then, that what he had in mind here is not so much a study of the art and mania of collecting but rather a simplistic account of his work in the 1990s as senior curator of the Experience Music Project, the brainchild of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, who wanted a different sort of rock museum. Blecha may well have an eye for the rare and fascinating artifact, but he hardly has the writer’s voice to describe what makes it so rare and fascinating.