From Publishers Weekly
In 1948, Hungarian-born engineer Peter Goldmark unveiled for Columbia the creation of the 331/3long-playing microgroove record, revolutionizing the music industry. In this comprehensive history, Marmorstein (Hollywood Rhapsody
) offers an overview of those events in the context of a complete company history spanning a dozen decades. He documents the 1889 origins of the Columbia Phonograph Company and subsequent technological plateaus, from cylinder recordings to single-sided and double-sided discs, followed by the LP, stereo and the dawn of the digital era. Along with company mergers, he profiles music makers from Bessie Smith to Bob Dylan and looks at the innovative album art of Jim Flora ("a post-nuclear Miró") and the creation of logo designs. He turns up the volume when writing about the men behind the music, from "witty and plugged-in" president Goddard Lieberson to acclaimed producers John Hammond and George Avakian. Along with an earful of audio archives and oral histories, Marmorstein leafed through recording contracts, sales reports, job sheets, memos and personal correspondence. The 35 pages of bibliographic notes indicate the exhaustive research that led to this authoritative history. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW
. (Mar. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Marmorstein's exhaustive study of one of the world's most venerable recording labels must cover nearly every wrinkle in Columbia's long history and varied corporate existence, which may be either good or bad for readers, depending on their tolerances for the likes of Billy Joel, Mitch Miller, and other mainstays. Those only casually interested in the company's corporate side may also find the tome's length daunting, but Marmorstein's writing is hardly ponderous. It also takes awhile to do justice to a business that has endured for more than 90 years, in the process bringing such certifiable greats as Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Jackson, not to mention hosts of jazz and classical stars, to iconic status. Moreover, Columbia has employed some of the most notorious figures in the music biz over the years, such as the storied Clive Davis and the perhaps odd but always interesting Tommy Mottolla, who foisted Mariah Carey on an unsuspecting public. A book to please music-history and music-biz-history mavens alike. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved