Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records

Amanda Petrusich. Scribner, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6705-9
In this enjoyable, well-researched work, music journalist Petrusich (It Still Moves) uses the “intense, competitive, and insular subculture” of 78 rpm record collecting as a jumping-off point for more universal discussions of cultural appropriation and historic romanticization of collecting. An outsider to the 78 community, Petrusich staunchly tracks down the key figures and interviews them one by one. Her project leads her to destinations throughout the U.S., including conventions and trade shows in New Jersey and Virginia, and even on a scuba diving mission into the depths of the Milwaukee River, where “race records” from the nearby Paramount factory are rumored to have been dumped. Meanwhile, Petrusich traces the history of recorded sound beginning with Edison’s discoveries and its evolution throughout the 20th century, pointing out along the way that our musical canon and overall understanding of blues was shaped largely by collectors. While critical of the eccentrics she encounters, who are often guilty of neglecting the intrinsic pleasures of song for the superficial sake of keeping an object, Petrusich manages to highlight their wisdom, charms, and influence when possible. What could have easily become an exclusive tome is made entertaining by Petrusich’s sharp and searching guidance. This is an inviting edition that will welcome many to an unfairly ridiculed sphere and send newbies looking up artists they’ve likely never heard of, but will likely fall in love with. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 07/08/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4516-6707-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4516-6706-6
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