Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Genius Music Books - from "The Great White Wonder" bootlegs, to Traveling Wilburys, and beyond

Earlier this year I Went Down to St. James Infirmary was picked up by Genius Book Publishing, in the United States.  Of course I became curious about other music books they are selling and bought some for myself. They have some exciting stuff! Here are a couple of examples.

Trade Mark of Quality (click here to find the book) is the most famous maker of bootleg records. The first of all bootlegs was Bob Dylan's Great White Wonder. I remember seeing that double lp, with its stark white cover and blank labels, in an Ontario record store in about 1969. "The Underground Story ..." devotes a couple of dozen pages to the creation of this album, including photographs of labelled tape reels, recording grids, etc. They devote as much attention to other Dylan bootlegs they created, plus the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, The Who, and so on. How did they get the master tapes? How did they record live performances without getting caught? What equipment did they use? How did they adapt to a burgeoning market? All of this is recorded in minute detail in this book, including photos, news clippings, track listings, and more. At 320+ pages of a large format volume (8.5"X12"), it is a well-written and exciting read.

Tales of actual bootleg excursions are so thorough, you might think that one of the authors is the notoriously anonymous Pigman himself!

Maybe that's a question for the author of the next book.

Jim Berkenstadt is "The Rock and Roll Detective." He investigates mysteries and puzzles, secrets and hoaxes, myths and intrigue in the world of rock&roll.

What is the story behind the formation of The Traveling Wilburys? Did the Beach Boys steal a song from Charlie Manson? Who really discovered Elvis Presley? What tales lie behind Nirvana's "Nevermind" album?

These and more are addressed in "Mysteries in the Music."

This is a well-researched book. Well written. I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

So thank you, Genius Books, for  these offerings.

It's a pleasure to find I Went Down to St. James Infirmary in such good company.

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