Reviews and Comments for 'Record Makers and Breakers'

* * * * "Broven is masterful, making 'Record Makers' an essential book for anyone interested in not only American musical culture but American culture, period." Edd Hurt, American Songwriter

"Après de nombreux livres consacres a une personnalite ou un aspect particulier de 'métier', John Broven etudie le phenomene dans son ensemble et propose un ouvrage pertinent et magistralement abouti."  Jacques Perin, Soul Bag (France)

"I can't remember when I last felt like stroking a book because it looked and felt so good, but here it is, a 600-page, hard-backed thing of wonder that nobody would ever dream of using as a doorstop. For the first time in my life, I have actually relished sitting for ages in hospital waiting rooms, knowing I had this to look forward to and savour." Charlie Gillett: The Sound of the World blog; and author of "Sound of the City."

"This mighty manual is already being compared to Charlie Gillett's 'Sound of the City', which was one of the first ever publications to penetrate the inner workings of the record business. Such a laudable comparison is more than justified, because the depth of knowledge that has come to bear since that initial insight is apparent in each and every chapter of the book." Stuart Colman, Now Dig This (U.K.)

"Almost 600 pages of blimey-I-didn't-know-that fax 'n' info to keep you enthralled. It's a keeper, and perhaps already I can say it's a classic, a textbook that will stand the test of time the way, say, Paul Oliver's 'Conversation with the Blues' has. Get it - now." Paul "Sailor" Vernon, Roots/Folk Roots (U.K.)

"For folks like us this book could be like Tolkein's Ring Trilogy is for fantasy buffs, or "Lonesome Dove" is for devotees of the cowboy life - one you want to just start back at the beginning again when you finally finish it. Highly recommended!" Marc Bristol, Blue Suede News

"'Record Makers and Breakers,' in its entirety, may be too much for casual or mildly committed fans of nascent rock 'n' roll. Still, browsing is recommended even for them. For academicians and r&b gourmands, this book is essential reading." Frank-John Hadley, DownBeat

"Both serious musicologists and folks who like simply to dip in and out of chosen pages - which can be done easily by way of use of a thorough index - will be fully satisfied by the richly detailed and well-presented way we can learn about the major players on the U.S. indie scene." David Cole, In The Basement (U.K.)

* * * * * * * * * * "For den som vill forkovra sig I r'n'b, soul och rock 'n' roll ar detta lika essentiell lasning som Arnold Shaw's 'Honkers and Shouters.'" L-P Anderson, Sonic (Sweden)

Early reviews and comments (April/May 2009)

"Your book has just arrived and after a 5-minute scan I am not using the term lightly when I call it a masterpiece.? I can't wait to dig into it." Art Rupe, Specialty Records

"You talk about a hit record, this is a hit book!" Joe Bihari, Modern, RPM Records

"I am reading it slowly there is no other way to read it this is a splendid book, chock full of fresh insights and information about many relatively ignored individuals and developments in the business. You have made a major contribution to the history of an era that changed society in subtle ways that have never been properly described or articulated. Congratulations on a major accomplishment that has rounded out history that has remained in the shadows too long." George Avakian, Columbia, Warner Bros., RCA Records

"A lot of people are talking about it; there's a great street buzz. Nice piece of work, man. The more I look at it the more I have to tip my hat to you." Marshall Chess, Chess/Checker/Argo Records

"It's very good but I have one complaint: It's very heavy and difficult to read in bed!" Miriam Bienstock, Atlantic Records

"You must have been a detective before you became a historian. I admire you and your desire to write a good book now you did. Too old to write a 'Dear John' letter? I'm 92 now." Berle Adams, Mercury Records

"As I had predicted, I couldn't put your new book down till I had read it all! I am so honored to be included with the truly giant movers and shakers during the 'wild west era' and what I consider the most wonderful years of our industry growth. Congratulations on documenting such enormous historical and amusing data on the record biz of the past!" Floyd Soileau, Jin/Swallow Records

“For a record freak, it’s a pure joy!” Chris Strachwitz (Arhoolie Records), by telephone

Four stars “Welcome to a world filled with payola, the mob and jukebox sounds. Broven whose ‘Walking to New Orleans’ [aka ‘Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans’] was hailed as the finest book on New Orleans music, now turns his attention to the history of America’s indie record industry.” Fred Dellar, MOJO (UK)

Four stars “An engrossing tale of the original indies. … Ultimately it’s a chronicle of the entrepreneurial American spirit, liberally punctuated by the creation of some of the most exciting and innovative music of all time.” Terry Staunton, Record Collector (UK)

John Broven is the ideal person to write on the history and development of the independent record business. He has been collecting, researching and writing about the subject for almost 50 years and has conducted hundreds of first hand interviews which form the backbone of this large (10" x 7") and endlessly fascinating book. It traces the industry from its raw regional beginnings in the 1940s with blues, R&B and hillbilly music through its decline in the 1960s, combines narrative history with extensive oral history material from numerous recording pioneers. The rich oral histories provide abundant on-the-ground information about how the labels nurtured the blues, R&B and hillbilly talent that ultimately resulted in rock 'n' roll, often losing that talent to major labels. It discusses the role of pressing plants, distribution centers, jukebox circuits, and disk jockey networks; financing these operations, often on shoestring budgets; and creating innovative approaches (including payola) to develop an audience for the records. This exceptional volume contains Broven's interviews with major players in the independent music scene, including Joe Bihari of Modern Records; Marshall Chess of Chess Records; Jerry Wexler, Ahmet Ertegun, and Miriam Bienstock of Atlantic Records; Sam Phillips of Sun Records; Art Rupe of Specialty Records; and many, many more. Broven is a lucid and entertaining writer and wherever possible allows the protagonists to speak for themselves. This is one of the most important and interesting books on popular music to come along in a long time. Frank Scott, Roots 'n' Rhythm (US)

Star review: “Broven has put together a detailed and engrossing study of the independent record labels of the 1940s-70s. Broven presents the behind-the-scenes stories of Atlantic, Motown, Sun, Chess, King, Specialty, and other record companies as well as the relationships among the independents and radio, jukebox companies, and the trade magazines. … An outstanding and important study that goes well beyond comparable predecessors.” Library Journal (US)

“Covering the convoluted history of the recording industry from the 1940s to the 1960s, he combines in-depth archival research with fascinating anecdotes about chart-toppers, shady characters and label owners (“the ultimate risk takers”). Broven traces the transition from R&B to rock … [and makes] this equal to Roger D. Kinkle’s massive, four-volume ‘Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz.’” Publishers Weekly (US)