The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record

Jonathan Scott. Bloomsbury, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4729-5613-2
Music journalist and Record Collector contributor Scott creates a high-energy, interplanetary pop song of a book devoted to the six-week project led by Carl Sagan and astrophysicist Frank Drake in 1977 to create a playlist of music and sounds to accompany NASA’s Voyager probe into space. Scott, who acknowledges he is more of an expert on mixtapes than astronomy, proves an enthusiastic and upbeat guide through the universe of bureaucratic red tape, tight deadlines, and romantic entanglements that revolved around the compilation effort. His thoroughly researched account draws on interviews with and unpublished writings by Voyager Record team members to explain the decision-making process behind various inclusions, including Chuck Berry’s rock ’n’ roll standard “Johnny B. Goode”—picked when the other pop song in contention, the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” proved unconscionably expensive —and legendary bluesman Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Is the Night,” “arguably the most haunting sound on the record,” for which team member and famed ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax lobbied. Scott summarizes the story best as being “about an awesome band of ordinary yet exceptional individuals who created a wonderful yet genuinely weird monument.” Delivered with effortless grace, this buoyant look at one of NASA’s most unusual but oft-overlooked efforts will appeal to music fans and astronomy buffs alike. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/06/2019
Release date: 05/21/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4729-5610-1
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