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Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 Hardcover – February 24, 2004
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Additionally, U.S. copyright laws have made it nearly impossible for anyone to reissue them as CDs. According to the author, there were approximately 800 recordings made by African Americans prior to 1920, the majority of which are still intact but half of which are owned by successor corporations like Sony and BMG who will neither reissue them nor allow anyone else to do so. Which explains why the majority of this material ends up being released overseas.
The book documents more than 40 artists chronologically, assessing their work and skillfully placing their biographies within the context of a complex and tumultuous era. It covers the famous (Bert Williams, Eubie Blake, Fisk Jubilee Singers) and a host of lesser-knows. The Discography provides a listing of CD reissues (if available) for each chapter, plus web sites where you'll most likely find them.
While seemingly an exhaustive tome, the author himself reminds us it's intended to stimulate preservation and future research: the final chapter "Miscellaneous Recordings" examines unissued recordings, "custom" noncommercial recordings, rumored but unconfirmed recordings, records by artists sometimes misidentified as black and more, in the hopes that future research will turn up more information.Read more ›
"Lost Sounds" is a detailed look at an aspect of the American music industry that is not just forgotten; it seems never to have been fully appreciated -- the early years of recorded music, with an emphasis on the essential contribution made by African American artists. The book has been praised as a unique reference work, and it is that; but it is also a rich history of late 19th- and early 20th-century American popular culture, as well as a collection of poignant personal stories of the entertainers who created it. Along the way, the book offers a primer on recording technology. And, although these accounts of once-popular performers and their now-unfamiliar careers and music are not in the least preachy, they do constitute a carefully documented examination of a key -- and painful -- era in American race relations.
Author Tim Brooks is himself an unobtrusive character in these adventures, the modest yet sympathetic researcher who has come along a century after the fact to ferret out the information, breathe new life into it, and in many instances save it from oblivion.
All of which makes "Lost Sounds" not only an extraordinary good read, but also an exceptional good deed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a collector of 78 rpm records and a lover of old music, I found this book very interesting and informativePublished 18 months ago by Pumpguy18
One of the most important books written about music in the past decade. An in depth look at the contributions made by African-Americans on record from the birth of the recording... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Alf Katz