In fairness to Petrusich, she addresses the issue of obscure Paramount and other blues sides being
hyped up through the "blues mafia" and associated reissuers, so they take on unwarranted prominence
in the cultural "canon." And, this comes at the expense of blues records that actually WERE popular
and sold thousands of copies when they were new and different (Bessie Smith, Lonnie Smith, others).
One of the modern reissuers calls Skip James a "freak" who couldn't get a Victor or ARC contract.
I think part of this is the same thing driving Avakian and Keepnews/Grauer jazz reissues in the late
40s and early 50s, plus the Harry Smith anthology -- each new generation collectors (generally but
not always social outcasts and people not of the mainstream cultural tastes or norms) has to
"discover" some "neglected gold" and create a fetish around it. There's also an underlying ecomic
element, especially with the blues records, in fact one could call it hucksterism intended to keep
prices high and this maintain collection values. This is much more pronounced in modern times and
with blues records vs "jass" records in earlier times, although collectors like John Tefteller and
Richard Nevins generally reissue at reasonable prices records for which they've paid mega-bux. In
any case, it's the age-old fact of history -- each succeding generation distorts the past context
and usually the past facts to suit its own perspectives, tastes and prejudices. Petrusich also
touches on this, but on scratches the surface of the issue.
Overall, I found her book to be entertaining enough to read through quickly, but lightweight in
authority and very short on new facts or perspectives. The fact that she really digs the music is a
plus as far as readability, but not as far as adding anything new to the facts or conversation. As
always when he's involved, Joe Bussard entertained me the most. He is a rare bird anyway, but
super-rare in that he's an extrovert in a collector-world of introverts. I'm sure other 78
collector-cultists resent the attention Joe gets, but they aren't nearly as interesting so they
shouldn't be surprised.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>I kept on expecting Alan Funt to appear.
> If this guy had recorded on Paramount -- especially if they had put
> this 15 minute piece out on a set of 2-78s, then Amanda Petrusich's cult
> of collectors would be going apesh-t over it and fighting to bid tens of
> thousands of dollars on it. I'm unimpressed with this and am
> unimpressed with most of what her cult is overbidding for.
> (Did you really listen to ALL 15 minutes of that crap????)
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
> ------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Sun, September 21, 2014 7:56 am
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Let's be clear, this is the "artiste" discussed in the essay:
> If 15 minutes of the same 3 chords with often out of tune humming along
> is your thing, then have at
> it. Many people play acoustic guitar into a portable home recorder. Very
> few of those recordings are
> worth hearing. Almost none of them are worth canonized as "undiscovered
> I understand the frustration with modern commercialized popular music,
> but the modern impulse (often
> by younger writers with little historical perspective, writers "born
> digital" and raised on digital
> pop music glop) to "discover" performers from what is glorified as a
> "wonderful past," many of whom
> don't really deserve to be canonized, is annoying. It seems to be an
> academic, navel-gazing pursuit.
> And, it smacks of ignorance, of not listening to enough
> commercially-released music from the same
> time periods. That sort of listening will often reveal that there were
> many excellent examples in
> the selected genre, musicians who could actually play and thus make
> commercially viable recordings.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "WS" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, September 19, 2014 6:35 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>> The link below is an excerpt (published in WIRE magazine) from David Grubb's
>> upcoming book called "Records Ruin The Landscape".
>> I thought it might be of interest to some ARSCLIST members, as it explores
>> the implications of recorded material from an earlier era that only finds an
>> audience much later than it was created.