From Publishers Weekly
This short and sweet historical overview of the connection between music, technology (primarily the "playback" function) and the "systematic marketing of recorded music" is the perfect gift for aging boomers who, like Coleman, were caught "completely unawares" by the Internet and related developments such as the MP3 file-sharing format and Napster, which brought MP3 file sharing to the world. Coleman, however, has the advantage of being a rock critic who brings a formidable range of knowledge about his subject. He is as comfortable writing about how pioneers such as Edison and Bell were "blind to the full significance" of their sonic inventions as he is about lesser-known luminaries such as Dr. Paul Goldmark, who invented the "microgroove" LP for CBS. He is also consistently excellent and authoritative on the myriad ways over the decades that the art of making music has shifted away from audio documentation and moved toward "aural creation." While his survey of '60s rock and radio trends will be familiar to any fan of pop music, it provides numerous interesting related observations, such as how the LP "stands as the most enduring cultural legacy bequeathed to baby boomers by their parents." The highlight of the book is its final section, a near-definitive review of recent trends in computer-based listening habits that persuasively argues that "the seductive allure of the MP3 format is all about selection and portability, not thievery and deceit."
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"The history of recorded music (all 126 years) is brought together succinctly in Mark Coleman's Playback." -- Goldmine 5/27/05