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Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records [Kindle Edition]

Amanda Petrusich

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  • Länge: 272 Seiten
  • Sprache: Englisch
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“One of the best things I've read about that inexplicably, but endlessly, fascinating group of people, the so-called Serious Collectors of 78s. Petrusich burrows into not just their personalities but the hunger that unites and drives their obsessions. She writes elegantly, and makes you think, and most important,manages to hang onto her skepticism in the midst of her own collecting quest.” (John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of "Pulphead")

“This is an adventure story: Amanda in the Land of MagicalShellac. Petrusich, a warm and witty writer and longtime music journalist,encounters the eccentric, soulful characters who've devoted their lives thearcane practice of hunting old records, shares stories of great lost musicians,and ponders the philosophical issues that make collecting more than just afancy version of hoarding. Readers will be delighted to become her confidanteson this life-changing journey.” (Ann Powers, author of "Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America")

"I don't know hillbilly from Blind Willie, but I loved Amanda Petrusich's archaeology of an almost-lost world of American music. Do Not Sell at Any Price is like a well-loved 78: it pops, it crackles, it seduces utterly." (Ken Jennings, author of "Maphead")

“This is American history as the tale of an American obsession—the record collectors, be they scholars, scroungers, hoarders, or heroes. In this brilliant book, Petrusich hits the road with these junk-shop blues Ahabs around the country—she makes you feel the frenzy of the chase, on a crazed, loving quest to rescue lost music from oblivion.” (Rob Sheffield, author of "Love Is a Mix Tape" and "Turn Around Bright Eyes")

"Amanda Petrusich’s fascinating and insightful journey into the arcane netherworld of 78 records and its bring-‘em-back-alive collectors brims with the joy and passion of discovery, along with a heartfelt affection for those who keep alight the flame of our musical heritage." (Lenny Kaye, guitarist, "Nuggets" anthologist, author "You Call It Madness")

“Petrusich enters the dusty realms of 78 rpm record junkies, and like Rolling Stones chronicler Stanley Booth, catches her subjects' disease. But she's mostly interested in the emotional heart of things, and the old music's strange power. An entertaining road tale and moving self-interrogation that dives deep for answers, sometimes literally.” (Will Hermes, author of "Love Goes to Buildings on Fire")

“Do Not Sell at Any Price tracks generations of obsessive collectors who dedicated their lives to the holy grail of blues and country music—78rpm records. Inspired by collectors like R. Crumb and Harry Smith, Amanda Petrusich wants each record ‘to keep playing forever, from somewhere deep inside my skull.’ Her book is essential reading for all who love American music.” (William Ferris, author of "Blues from the Delta" and "The Storied South")

"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." (Kirkus Reviews)

“[A] thoughtful, entertaining history of obsessed music collectors and their quest for rare early 78 rpm records…Fascinating.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Ms. Petrusich goes on a pilgrimage to see and hear firsthand the legendary holdings of the top collectors…[she] brings a discerning eye to her profiles.” (Wall Street Journal)

“[Petrusich] weaves her interviews with personalobservations and just the right amount of dry humor to make us feel as if we’relooking (and listening) over her shoulder as she travels up and down the EastCoast…a propulsive read." (Denver Post)

“Do Not Sell enticingly chronicles [Petrusich’s] immersion in a subset of record collectors…Her compelling, finely drawn portraits such as James McKune and Harry Smith amount to a rich study.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Captivating…Whether you’re already a 78 aficionado, a casual record collector, a crate-digger, or just someone like me who enjoys listening to music, you’re going to love this book…Elegant and witty.” (Slate)

"Do Not Sell at Any Price is full of little epiphanies ... [Petrusich's] persistence pays off in the form of stories and observations that humanize the collectors and their pursuit ... [Petrusich] effectively uses the prism of her personal experience to analyze the aesthetics of collecting, consuming and enjoying music." (New York Times)

"A profound rumination on the idea of recording, asking what it means to capture sound, to be moved by it, and ultimately, to obsess over it. With “Do Not Sell at Any Price,” we have an astounding new writer not of musical criticism but of longform narrative prose. When Petrusich writes about music, she is akin Keats writing about a Greek vase: She is telling us what it means to be human beings adrift in time." (Baltimore City Paper)

"In this entertaining book about the finite universe of oddballs who scrounge frantically to collect the shellac fossils the rest of us consider worthless, you get all the joy of discovery without having to grub through boxes at garage sales.... Petrusich proves an engaging, frequently funny tour guide." (The Boston Globe)

"Full of strange, even beautiful, tales of obsession....Even someone who knows little or nothing about 78s will find Petrusich's book an incredibly enjoyable read." (Fine Books Magazine)

"A wise, entertaining study of 78 rpm collectors.... Petrusich writes beautifully." (The Wire Magazine)

"Exquisitely offbeat experiment in embedded journalism." (Chicago Tribune)

“Petrusich’s personal journey through the lives and legacies of the ‘Blues Mafia’ reshuffles their twice-told stories and makes of them something new…excellent.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

"This book is so alive to its subject, to the grail of the music.... Petrusich will make you desperate not only to hear the records she’s writing about...but to feel the way they make her feel, to feel the mask dissolve on your own face. (Greil Marcus The Believer)

“Petrusich wisely and insightfully goes beyond just documenting these collectors’ peculiarities, as she also traces the history of early American recordings and their legacy in contemporary music. Perhaps most powerfully, the book serves as a treatise on the act of collecting itself, probing the psychological, social, and cultural implications arising from these pursuits of passion.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

"A travelogue into the most beautiful corners of obsession. Petrusich is a top-flight music writer—meticulous, generous, and deeply informed. But she’s also a terrific curator of human subjects, from the lovesick collectors who make up the bulk of her narrative to the towering, still-shadowy names that grace these circular hunks of shellac... Do Not Sell At Any Price is as idiosyncratic, alluring and totally alive as the scratchy sides that consume it." (Slate)

"Lively and entertaining." (Buzzfeed)


The untold story of a quirky and important subculture: The world of 78rpm records and the insular community that celebrates them—by acclaimed music critic and author Amanda Petrusich, who contributes regularly to Pitchfork, The Oxford American, and The New York Times.

Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on 78rpm records—those fragile, 10-inch shellac discs. While vinyl records have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, good 78s are exponentially harder to come by and play. A recent eBay auction for the only known copy of a particular record topped out at $37,100. Do Not Sell at Any Price explores the rarified world of the 78rpm record—from the format’s heyday to its near extinction—and how collectors and archivists are working frantically to preserve the music before it’s lost forever.

Through fascinating historical research and beguiling visits with the most prominent 78 preservers, Amanda Petrusich offers both a singular glimpse of the world of 78 collecting and the lost backwoods blues artists whose 78s from the 1920s and 1930s have yet to be found or heard by modern ears. We follow the author’s descent into the oddball fraternity of collectors—including adventures with Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, Pete Whelan, and more—who create and follow their own rules, vocabulary, and economics and explore the elemental genres of blues, folk, jazz, and gospel that gave seed to the rock, pop, country, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, Do Not Sell at Any Price is an untold, intriguing story of preservation, loss, obsession, art, and the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 15242 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 272 Seiten
  • Verlag: Scribner (8. Juli 2014)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #391.954 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  33 Rezensionen
22 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen 78 collectors obsessive? - apparently very much! 12. Juli 2014
Von Bryan Case - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A very interesting book about the cabal-like world of 78rpm collectors, the records they collect, and the music that obsesses them.

The author, Amanda Petrusich, is an engaging and capable writer. Had I not been interested in the subject, her enthusiasm would likely have sparked my interest.

As an inveterate collector and listener of 78s, I was particularly intrigued by this book. I also love reading about collectors - so it's the perfect book, right? Well, almost (more below). Although I was largely familiar with the cast of characters and a fair number of the stories, I still found her retellings interesting. I discovered many little nuggets of information I was heretofore unaware, and a few clarifications that were very helpful.

However, I do have a couple small gripes. There were a few personal digressions that added little to the narrative and sometimes got in the way. In particular, the section about her journey to troll the Milwaukee River to find long discarded 78s from the Paramount Records pressing plant in Grafton, Wisconsin. The idea was clever - sort of George Plimptonesque - but there was too much of a narrative detour, especially considering she came up empty. I found myself skimming/skipping several pages until the story got back on track. There's a trend I've noticed among some younger writers, to occasionally insert too much of themselves in the story. A little adds context and a personal touch to the story, but too much is a distraction.

Also - I was hoping to hear more biographical detail from members of the so-called blues mafia, particularly Bernard Klatzko and Pete Whelan (whose 78 Quarterly was a wonderful publication). She did a fantastic job with James McKune, however.

So, should you buy this book? If you have any interest in prewar music, then YES. If you are 78 collector, another big YES. If you are a record collector - YES again. If any of this seems even a little intriguing - a final YES. Especially if you are under 40 (or 30) and don't know what a Victrola is. Do yourself a favor and get acquainted with the music of the early 20th century!
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Von Stuart Jefferson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
If you like the "old, weird" music from an America now long gone--like Harry Smith's "The Anthology of American Folk Music", "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" (plus the sequel "The Return Of..."), and all the various box sets collecting early country blues and other then contemporary music--you will find this book of interest.

It's simply one person's attempt to search out and begin to understand why (and who are) these people who collect old 78 RPM records with a detective's zeal and sometimes deep pockets. You'll come across collectors who are pure collectors--never paying much for a dirty, dusty, easily breakable shellac covered piece of history. Or others who buy low and sell high. But they all have one thing in common, to find these records before they disappear forever. What information the author gleans from her subjects is told in a witty, easy to read style.

The book isn't perfect. The portion where the author, Amanda Petrusich, learns to scuba dive in order to search a river for old metal stampers or records themselves takes up too much space. But it's when she talks about going on a hunt with a longtime collector to a dirty, greasy swap meet in search of 78 RPM treasures where the book becomes interesting. Or her descriptions of some of the more (relatively) notable collectors (a difficult feat), the artists, the record labels, and her descriptions of hearing some of these long lost recordings for the first time that makes this book eminently readable. Some of these collectors are very private, "quirky", and sometimes suspicious of other collectors or anyone interested in what they collect. But Petrusich goes behind the surface and gives the reader at least some idea of why these people do what they do with such a fervent passion.

Another interesting chapter is when Petrusich goes in search of original 78 RPM records from Harry Smith's collection. Smith put together "The Anthology of American Folk Music" set (now reissued by the Smithsonian) and if you've never heard this collection of music from the years 1927-1932 you need to. If you like "American music", this is it. It's revered by many well known musicians for giving them insight into different musical forms. Smith's choice of, and the recordings themselves, have a strange kind of wild magic about them. It's haphazard in contents--certainly not all-encompassing--but what's there you need to hear. And it's a sometimes strange listening experience, because I too had this happen to me, as related in the book--"'s the weirdest thing, every time you listen to think, 'Wait, was that song there before?'". It has that kind of an effect. But if you don't own this collection you're music library has a hole in it. Check it out.

I found myself liking this book the more I got into it. If you're a music collector or a deep music lover (like me) you'll recognize the feelings generated by the collectors in the book. The thrill of finding a long lost 78 RPM treasure, and the agony of your hopes dashed when your search is in vain and you come away empty handed. So if you find something special in hearing some old scratchy Paramount recordings (now issued on CD) or anything else that (usually) sounds like it was dragged over rocks and through the dirt, this book will give you a pretty good look into what it's all about.
22 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen There is much more to 78 collecting than just pre-war rural blues. 26. Juli 2014
Von MJB - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
During the past week I ran an informal poll among collectors of 78 RPM records which thoroughly mystified many of them.  A few did guess the reason for the poll and now I will let everybody in on it.  Hang on though, because this will be a bumpy ride.

You are not eligible to be considered a “78 Collector” UNLESS you do NOT own a copy of “Yes! We Have No Bananas”, and would consider it to be a personal affront that someone would even offer to give you a copy for your collection.  Thus sayeth a new book that has been widely publicized and excerpted “Do Not Sell At Any Price: the Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records” by Amanda Petrusich, published by Scribner.
I’ve been reading excerpts, articles, and interviews about this book for many months, and I even read some of them on my radio program on  , and I was looking forward to this book.  But when it arrived several days after publication and I thumbed thru it I realized that the excerpts had been the tone of the whole book.  Her world had been shrunken to just a minute portion of “78 Collectors”.  My reaction was: my goodness, look at all the wonderful people and sounds she has missed.  I felt that I should send her a copy of my daughter’s video documentary “For the Record” which through interviews with about the same quantity of individuals, opens a whole world of different, exciting, important, and fascinating people and sounds that the small clique she had fallen into ignores and disdains. How could two girls from Brooklyn look at this so differently?

Amanda Petrusich is not a novice to music. She has been researching and writing about music and culture for many years, but she IS new to 78s – had never even touched one. Early in the book she describes asking the director of the WFMU Record Fair for an introduction to some 78 collectors. He warned her “These 78 guys are on a different LEVEL”.

Well, the ones she met might be – and right away I could see the fault. “Ironically, I would learn most 78 collectors ARE minimalists. They're far more persnickety about what records they allow into their homes and on their shelves than I've ever been.”

“Approach a 78 collector,” she continues “with some mundane or particularly commonplace 78 – 'Yes! We Have No Bananas,' say – and request to store it amid his collection, and he will glower at you as if you have announced you intend to slowly disfigure his face with a fork.” In this short section of the book where she describes “78 collectors” she uses the descriptor “78 collector” a multitude of times. Over the past few days I have gotten responses from my poll about this remark from over 100 people who consider themselves to be “78 collectors.” Over half of them HAVE a copy – or several – of this song in their 78 collection. Except for a very few of these who said they have enough of them, all would gladly accept another. Of those who, like Ms. Petrusich's acquaintances, do not have a copy of this song in their 78 collection, only five said they would refuse one. Most said they would LOVE to have one, and some wondered what kind of a person would have such a visceral reaction against having a copy of this song.

The clique of 78 collectors she fell in with are collectors of pre-war rural blues, records that were so far out of the mainstream when they were issued that they sold in very small quantities to the extent that some performances have not survived in even one copy. They ARE an important part of our country's music history and our culture, and the quest for these records is a worthy one. Record collectors of all genre are genuinely interested and intrigued when a formerly “lost” recording gets discovered, but to be frank many of them shake their heads in wonder when they hear it. “Some records DESERVED to be rare!” is occasionally muttered.

Pre-war rural blues can be an acquired taste, but that it has become exclusionary to all other types of music is the biggest surprise that this book might disclose. As you travel through this book traveling through the world of what should really have been called the”The Expensive Pre-War Rural Blues 78 Collector” – not the world of “The 78 Collector” – you find that Ms. Petrusich has found that the life of the pre-war rural blues musician – usually poor and Black -- has injected itself into the veins of the collector – usually White and occasionally rich.

There is something about the music that infects some people. She contends that there is something about the music WHEN IT IS HEARD DIRECTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL 78 that has infected at least her. She is an extremely personal writer. Her experience upon listening to an original 78 of a recording that she already has heard on an expertly transferred CD that she already owns is illuminating to the visceral change in her life that hearing that record made.

“That afternoon, sitting upright on Heneghan's couch, I was playing it real cool. But fifty seconds into 'Big Leg Blues' – right around the time John Hurt coos 'I asked you, baby, to come and hold my head' in his soft honeyed voice – I felt like every single one of my internal organs had liquefied and was bubbling up into my esophagus. Even now, I am not sure there's a way to accurately recount the experience without sounding dumb and hammy. I wanted to curl up inside that record; I wanted to inhabit it. Then I wanted it to inhabit me. I wanted to crack it into bits and use them as bones. I wanted it to keep playing forever, from somewhere deep inside my skull. That is how it often begins for collectors: with a feeling that music is suddenly opening up to you. That you're getting closer to it -- the blues feeling – than you've ever gotten before.”

The Blues Feeling. She had fallen in love with The Blues Feeling. In ORGASMIC LUST with the 78 playing The Blues Feeling.

“I'd heard 'Big Leg Blues' before; in 1990, Yazoo Records had issued a CD of the thirteen tracks Hurt recorded for the Okeh Electric Record Company in 1928, and I'd picked up a used copy at a local record store a few years earlier. Not only was I familiar with the song, I'd experienced an expert digital rendering of an actual 78. My reaction to hearing the 78 itself played four feet in front of me felt wild and disproportionate even as it was happening. I like to think I was reacting to the song, that the record was just a conduit, a vehicle of presentation. But I suspect I was also seduced by the ritual – by the sense of being made privy to something exclusive, something rare.”

Welcome to the world of Rare Exclusive 78s. Rare Exclusive Pre-War Rural Blues 78s. No others need apply. In one sentence she dismisses EVERYTHING ELSE: “Right now there are 78 collectors working to gather and preserve all other forms of pre-war music – jazz, opera, classical, gospel, country, dance, pop – but there's something seductive about the way blues music played on an acoustic guitar between 1925 and 1939 – the so-called country blues – sounds on shellac.”

That's it, there ain't no more. No rock, be-bop, show music, comedy, spoken word, etc. With a short excursion over to indigenous music of 3rd world countries, no other music is appreciated here. I think the appeal for this type of ethnic music is that it also is “primitive”. Even when she travels to Germany to meet Richard Weize of Bear Family Records, it is only rural blues, not the rock he issues, the huge box sets of political protest songs, the Jewish recordings made in Germany during the Hitler years, and other far more important stuff. She gets a tour with the curator Johnathan Haim of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center (which she calls the “Performing Arts Library” to avoid having to mention the Broadway composers) and the only thing mentioned is the quest for Harry Smith's archive. She tells of her visit to the Jazz Record Bash in New Jersey, but she has come on Saturday after the excitement has gone. She finds an ethnic Croatian tamburitza record on Elliott Jackson's table so he is the only person she seems to have spoken to. He once had bought some records from (he thinks) John Fahey, so we have a two-page digression to Fahey. Then after she gets Elliott to admit that some collectors are “fairly strange” (Elliott, how COULD you!), she “spent another hour milling around, until the existential stress of spending a bright summer morning inside a New Jersey Hilton started to trouble my stomach and I retreated to the elevator. I carted my 78 home and spent some time staring at it. I admired the way it looked on my shelf. I played it relentlessly. I thought, a lot, about getting another one.” Elliott sells all his records at $4 or 3 for $10. I can't believe that while relieving her of her 78 virginity that he couldn't get her to buy two more like he does everyone else!!

Her explanation about how records are made is sophomoric and full of factual errors as if she took down the old wives tales that one of the collectors told her. It obviously was not fact checked by an expert.

Oh, by the way, I got a message from John Tefteller, the premiere rare blues 78 collector and dealer (you, know, the guy who bought a record a few months ago for $37,100). He had been portrayed in the book as a very single-minded blues collector: "I do indeed own a copy of the Great White Way Orchestra doing 'Yes, We Have No Bananas' It was actually the very first 78 I ever heard, when I was about six years old.....on my grandmas 1922 windup Brunswick player---which I also still have!"
12 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen 2 or 3 stars 8. August 2014
Von Jason Kirkfield - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
It would be the epitome of snark to title this review, Do Not Buy At Any Price. The book isn't quite that bad, but it isn't very good, either.

This should have been a compelling read. The subject matter could have been lifted from an episode of the popular series American Pickers or Hoarders. As humans, we tend to hoard worthless junk, all the while looking through other people's junk for buried treasure.

Unfortunately, when presented with an opportunity to profile a slice of collecting nirvana--early 20th century blues records--Petrusich opts instead for a meandering storyline which is not always compelling nor entirely educational. With few exceptions (notably Chris King and Joe Bussard), the characterizations are shallow. Ultimately, what we get here is a story that is at times more about the author than it is her subjects. I think this may be due to her own background in music criticism, where a reviewer judges how he or she is affected by the music. I also disagree with Petrusich on what she calls subjective curating. I believe *all* curating is subjective, that any collection necessarily reflects the biases and personality of its collector.

The best bits in this book are when the author quotes other people.

French sociologist Jean Baudrillard on collecting: "It is invariably oneself that one collecs."

Writer Donovan Hohn in Harper magazine on the collectibility (or lack thereof) of a new-in-box ink-jet printer: "[It had] already passed into that limbo of worthlessness that exists between novelty and nostalgia."

One of the author's best turns, in explaining why Paramount records were often low-fidelity: "Wisconsin stone is good for lots of things, but not for being ground up and crushed into blues records."

This book should have been an elbows-deep excursion into the physical and psychological debris of basement-dwelling record collectors. Instead, it reads like a compilation of not-necessarily-linear magazine articles. The scuba episode starting in Chapter 6 was particularly out of place. I hoped the search might come to fruition or at least dovetail with the rest of the narrative, but it does neither. The end of the book just sort of happens. Disappointing.

Compare this to the captivating story of another record hunt, for the lost 45 of Stormy Weather. The long article, originally published in the L.A. Times (link in Comments section below) and subsequently collected in Uncle John's Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader, sets the wonderful scene of Slim Rose's Times Square Records and the eponymous "Slim." That piece of writing offers both contextual history and a compelling treasure hunt storyline.

I liked the chapter titles (all soundbites from people in the book), but the chapter topics are much less appealing. Why ruin the suspense and literary tension? I remember encountering such an "outline" feature in Crazy River from Free Press, another Simon & Schuster imprint.

[The reviewer was provided with a complimentary copy of the book. The juxtaposition of the ARC's "Not For Sale" banner and the book's own "Do Not Sell" title was amusing.]
19 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Great Subject Served... Not Entirely Well 29. Juli 2014
Von Rondo KV 511 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
First, credit the author for choosing a remarkable subject. The mini-profiles of various collectors are, for the most part, decent, though a lot less food chat and a lot more social history would have served Petrusich well. Whether or not one likes Petrusich after reading this book is definitely a matter of taste.

While she evinces curiousity about her subjects, she's often quite patronizing (I won't deign to repeat her banal insults cum "jokes") and, with little to no concomitant sense of self-critical humor, the tone gets irritating.

Most crucially, however, is Petrusich's superficial grasp of history-- including cultural history, i.e. music (for all her many gratuitous references to "Brooklyn," she seems wholly unaware of the vast amount of 78 RPM recordings made in nearby Manhattan; Long Island City, Queens; Camden, NJ)-- and the HUGE blank spots and errors that result.

I'll simply note three examples; I wasn't paid to edit nor factcheck the manuscript and won't pretend do so here.

1) "In the 1920s, races records typically sold around five thousand copies each; a hit record would move twenty to fifty thousand units."

Question: what does she mean by "typical"?

Think about that number: 5000, and remember that race records were sold, as far as we know, almost exclusively to black folks whose 1930 population was 11,792,593, or 9.7% of the total U.S. population (source: 1930 Census).

Take a zero away from 5000 and I think we're MUCH closer to the 'typical' truth-- this is important because there was vast number of "race" recordings and only X # of big hits, many of those by women blues singers. Since this book is, in large part, predicated on the erstwhile "rarity" of certain records, a firmer grasp of the early 20th century record business and relevant U.S. demographics wouldn't be remiss.

Note: Petrusich offers no source for her statement.

2) "Like [Charley] Patton, [Skip] James had never been reissued before [Pete] Whelan thought to do it."

FALSE. This statement is in reference to Pete Whelan-compiled "Really! The Country Blues" anthology of 1962, which was the first ** LP ** to reissue a Skip James recording.

Towards the end of 1940s, the tiny Chicago record label, S.D.-- co-founded by record collectors, John Steiner and Hugh Davis-- issued a 78 RPM record with Skip's "Little Cow And Calf Is Gonna Die Blues" on one side, with pianist Jabbo Williams' "Fat Mama Blues" on the other.

Given this book's subject, this is NOT a trivial matter and, indeed, it helps clarify the often shadowy path of musical rediscovery, in this case of the now revered Paramount label. That S.D. was almost entirely a JAZZ label is likewise important, because it was jazz collectors who were at forefront of figuring these things out. It's easy, perhaps, to criticize jazz collectors for small-mindedness and the riches they left behind but...

Meanwhile, S.D. not only "thought" to reissue Skip James back then, they actually did it; surely this should not have remained unknown to the author?

Lastly, yhere's a silly scene near the end of this book placed at now closed J&R Music World.

Petrusich must have gone during their admittedly pathetic, duplicitous 2014 death spiral but for DECADES-- perhaps for as long as Petrusich has been alive (certainly longer than she's been studying music history)-- J&R was a phenomenal resource for nearly all music (including classical, blues, cajun, old-timey, 'ethnic', you-name-it), old and new-- including the estimable blues calendars (+ CD) of John Tefteller whom Petrusich writes about. (What "indie"-centric NYC store can claim likewise?)

Instead, we get this: "... J&R Music World, a hulking relic of an electronics store in downtown Manhattan, across from City Hall. Opened in 1971, J&R used to sell records. Now, walking through the ground floor, I grimaced at a few unertrafficked racks of compact discs and shelves of dusty-looking computer accessories."

Which is so so so SO far from decades of reality one has to take everything else the author writes with appropriate skepticism.

Read also, instead: Nick Tosches "Country" and "Where Dead Voices Gather"; Mary Beth Hamilton "In Search of the Blues"; Stephen Calt "I'd Rather Be The Devil"; everything by R. Crumb; all liner notes by Don Kent and Pat Conte; "Cat On A Hot Thin Groove" by Gene Deitch etc etc.

Listen and read the notes to every Archeophone label 'yearbook' CD, something I highly suspect Petrusich did NOT do or else she could not maintain so many parochial views on history, memory, collecting, the totemic power of sound qua sound etc.

1917: "Yankees to the Ranks"

1920: Even Water's Getting Weaker

Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891-1922
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