GILLIAN G. GEAR, MARTIN POPOFF, RICHIE UNTERBERGER, MATT ANNISS, KEN MICALLEF – IN THE GROOVE: THE VINYL RECORD AND TURNTABLE REVOLUTION
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Vinyl records are back in a big way, and in many ways they never really went anywhere. In The Groove: The Vinyl Record And Turntable Revolution is a loving tribute to that wonderful format that has kept people entertained for decades. In this book, five noted and respected writers have come together to explain the appeal of, but more importantly offer a brief history of vinyl, specifically the album. It is a fascinating read, and the accompanying photos are excellent in illustrating the story and are essential to this book.
The history of recorded music is outlined, right up to the current streaming. The brief history of the 8-track was fun to read, especially for those of a certain age who fondly remember that format, but the focus is vinyl. From the history of manufacturing the format, to the design of the sleeves, to the marketing of the records. For some readers, a lot of this has a ‘remember when’ quality, which is really enjoyable. This is not a scholarly text but a book with many examples that resonate with the reader. When the authors mention Devo’s first album released on marble vinyl, it made me want to pop it on the turntable.
Iconic album covers are discussed, and the classics are noted, such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Dark Side Of The Moon, but there are surprises, such as Joy Division’s debut, Ramones, and The Sex Pistols. And yet, everything fits together in the story. And in many ways it reflects many record collectors’ own collections. Each of the authors brings something unique to the book and all the pieces fit together. Richie Unterberger chronicles the history of the album, which is very interesting, especially the development of 78s. As albums developed, so too did the need for album sleeves. Martin Popoff tackles these but goes on to special pressings and limited editions which are a staple for today’s Record Store Day.
Matt Anniss examines collecting and caring for records, but also delves into DJs and the use of vinyl in hip-hop culture. Gillan Garr looks into record stores, and it is interesting to see in print stores that I have visited. This is the kind of research I would love to do for a book, visit iconic record stores around the world. But she also pays tribute to the classic stores which have disappeared, such as Ernest Tubb’s store in Nashville. Finally, Ken Micallef looks at the turntables and systems that bring the vinyl to life.
In The Groove: The Vinyl Record And Turntable Revolution is a brilliant book and would be the perfect Christmas gift for the collectors on your holiday shopping list. The book is full of detailed asides, which make it so fascinating to read. It is those little touches that add so much to the overall book and make it such a necessary addition to your library.