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What We’re Reading Now: Recent Additions to the Reference Collection in RSRC

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This blog post was co-written with Jan McKee, Reference Librarian, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress.

The Recorded Sound Research Center not only provides access to the Library’s sound recordings but it also maintains a collection of reference books that support materials in the collection. These books include discographies, bio-discographies, directories, histories, and technical works about sound recording and radio broadcasting. The books are available without appointment to researchers using the Recorded Sound Research Center. Listed below are some the most recent titles added to the collection. This new feature to Now See Hear! will be regularly updated as new books are added. We thought you’d like to know what’s on our shelves now:

Cover of The Birth of Top 40 Radio: The Storz Stations' Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. Recorded Sound Research Center, Library of Congress.
Cover of The Birth of Top 40 Radio: The Storz Stations’ Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. Recorded Sound Research Center, Library of Congress.

The Birth of Top 40 Radio: The Storz Stations’ Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s by Richard W. Fatherly and David T. MacFarland (Jefferson, NC : McFarland & Co., 2013)

Top 40 was the preeminent American radio format of the 1950s and 1960s. While the transition from earlier network block programming to music radio seems obvious today, at the time it took great innovation and nerve to develop. The Birth of Top 40 Radio is the story of the man who created the Top 40 format, Todd Storz, and, Bud Connell says in his foreword, saved radio from death by TV. Todd Storz and his father, Robert, were innovators in radio programming practices and radio marketing techniques. The Storz Stations in St. Louis, Omaha, New Orleans, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Miami are profiled in this book, as are various Storz on-air personalities and executives. Other chapters examine the unique “Storz Station sound” and Storz advertising in radio trade magazines, which cemented the company’s image as the format’s most successful station group and Top 40 as the dominant programming of the day. There are extensive quotations from the memoirs of several of the founders of the format. Photos and a useful chronology are included.

Producing Country: The Inside Story of the Great Recordings by [interviews by] Michael Jarrett (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2014)

In the early days of recorded music, the producer was the “artists-and-repertoire man,” or A&R man. He chose who would record and what they would record. Ultimately, his decisions profoundly shaped our musical tastes. The author’s extensive interviews with fifty producers, including Bob Thiele, Chet Atkins, Jerry Wexler, Steve Cropper, Tom Dowd, Don Law Jr. and Don Pierce, offers full accounts of the producer’s role in creating country music. With its focus on recordings and record production, Producing Country tells the story of creating country music from its early years to the present day through the creation of hit records by Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, and the Dixie Chicks among many others.

 Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich (New York and London : Scribner, 2014)

Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich writes about the obsessive culture of 78 rpm record collectors and their wild chase to find elusive blues and jazz recordings from the 1920s and 1930s. Do Not Sell at Any Price also explores the history of the 78rpm record — from the format’s heyday as the recording industry’s standard to its near extinction — and current efforts to preserve the music on those discs before it’s lost forever. Ultimately, this is also a story of preservation, loss, art and obsession. Petrusich introduces the reader to famous collectors such as Joe Bussard, Christopher King, Pete Whelan and Harry Smith. She takes the reader along with her to a New Jersey record fair in a dreary hotel, a sweltering weekend spent at the Hillsville VFW Flea Market and Gun Show in southwest Virginia, and learning how to scuba dive so she can salvage old 78s and masters that may or may not have been dumped into the Milwaukee River decades ago. The book includes a selected discography of rare and obscure recordings for those who would like to join the hunt.

Cover from Joel Whitburn's Hit Records 1954-1982. Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress
Cover from Joel Whitburn’s Hit Records 1954-1982. Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress

Other new titles recently added include:

Joel Whitburn’s Hit Records 1954-1982 (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, c2012).

Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography by Kurt Nauck & Allan Sutton (Denver, CO: Mainspring Press, c2011).

Who Did It First: Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists by Bob Leszczak (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

The School of Arizona Dranes: Gospel Music Pioneer by Timothy Dodge (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013).

A Regional Discography of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1904-1972 compiled, with an introduction by Michael Taft (St. John’s , Newfoundland, Canada: Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, 1975).

The History of Music Production by Richard James Burgess (Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Yankee Twang: Country and Western Music in New England by Clifford R. Murphy (Urbana, Chicago and Springfield, IL : University of Illinois Press, 2014).



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