WHAT'D I SAY: The Atlantic Story

Ahmet Ertegun, Author, Greil Marcus, With, Nat Hentoff, With with Greil Marcus, Lenny Kaye, Robert Christgau, David Fricke, Barney Hoskyns, Welcome Rain $75 (565p) ISBN 978-1-56649-048-1

When Ertegun founded Atlantic Records in 1947 with $10,000 borrowed from his dentist, the 24-year-old native of Turkey was living in segregated America, which did not realize the beauty of its own cacophony. Luckily, however, there was the radio—an ethereal land of the free where he could realize his dream of making music that was beyond color as well as category but not above the heads of the mass majority. Spanning six decades, this coffee-table history fortunately goes a little deeper than most. Ertegun's anecdotes are intermingled with those of his esteemed business associates and recording artists. If the company one keeps is a reflection of intelligence, then Ertegun is a genius times 100: Atlantic's roster includes no less than Ray Charles, Clyde McPhatter, the Drifters, Big Joe Turner, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Mabel Mercer, Bobby Darin, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave, Dusty Springfield, Led Zeppelin, Tori Amos and so on. As fascinating as their recollections are standing alone, they would have been more powerful woven into one sprawling yarn. However, many of the book's satiny black-and-white publicity stills of Atlantic's more esoteric acts speak volumes. What saves the book from quoting itself into oblivion are nine essays by some of the most respected music journalists. Each nicely crystallizes the label's enormous contributions to R&B, jazz, rock 'n' roll, pop and soul. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-1-55670-860-2
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!