Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Received: The Record Store of the Mind by Josh Rosenthal

RosenthalCOVERAs a followup to my "different" blog post of December 14 on vinyl, I recently received a copy of Josh Rosenthal's The Record Store of the Mind, published by his own Tompkins Square Press (and record label).

So who is Josh Rosenthal? A budding music geek, he worked at his high school and college radio stations. He eventually landed a gig working for Sony Music (Columbia Records), and his publicity campaign on 1990's Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings is most likely why I learned of RJ and have a copy of this box set in my CD library.

In 2005, Rosenthal launched his own Tompkins Square music label in New York City; and in 2011, he moved the business to San Francisco. Rosenthal is a master of the reissue and a proponent of forgotten musicians (e.g. country music legend Charlie Louvin), bringing them back into the studio to record new music.

Now, in celebration of Tompkins Square's 10th Anniversary, Rosenthal has released The Record Store of the Mind. At the end of the introduction to the book, he writes...but first, let me set the scene: Rosenthal is with his older daughter Emma at a record store in Campbell, California, as he's rifling through the stacks of records...
Emma asked, "How do you know what you're looking for?" I guess I've spent my whole life figuring that out. It's great that I still can't fully answer her question. In this book, I write about some stuff I've done in and around music over the past thirty years; records that I've found or that found me; and records, people, and live music experiences that have forever changed the way I listen. I hope you'll be inspired.
Rosenthal and Tompkins Square have also created a free/public "Record Store of the Mind" Spotify playlist. Songs range from Ron Davies and Harvey Mandel, to Eric Clapton and Charlie Louvin, to Bill Fey and Essra Mohawk. So whilst reading the book, be sure to cue up the appropriate track!

Here's an excerpt from Joseph Neff's review of The Record Store of the Mind on The Vinyl District (but please be sure to read the entire review):
Given some of the idiosyncratic characters inhabiting record collecting and releasing, Rosenthal's music biz story, peppered as it is with Kate Bush, Psychedelic Furs, and Public Enemy, is pretty refreshing and enhanced by a true music lover's sense of detail...

The book's memoir portions are a treat, but the energy devoted to spotlighting underheard records is even more satisfying; the chapter covering The Youngbloods' Warner Brothers-funded custom imprint Raccoon Records provides major insight into a true bygone era and justifies The Record Store of the Mind's purchase price all by its lonesome. And the lengthy list of old-time releases is about as handy a resource for the upstart and veteran collector as I've yet to stumble across.

The Record Store of the Mind may seem a modest endeavor, but Josh Rosenthal furthers the eternal discussion with class and solid prose. Additionally, he pulls-off an impressive trick, casually dishing a wealth of knowledge in a manner that's non-intimidating to information-thirsty novices while also retaining appeal for more weathered record hunters. In short, it'll make a worthy addition to one's music-related bookshelf (or for that matter, a fine gift), holding enough recommendations in its pages to insure frequent consultations.

~ Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District

"Josh Rosenthal is a record man's record man. He is also a musician's record man. He is in the line of Samuel Charters and Harry Smith. In this age where we have access to everything and know the value of nothing, musicians need people like Josh to hear them when no one else can."
~ T Bone Burnett

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