The Coffee Table Read

Homemade Records 1958-1992

A new book celebrates homemade records (and their homemade artwork).
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If there’s one thing a pretty lady loves, it’s a sweet, sweet serenade. This, one can only assume, was the guiding principle that led the likes of Larry Voltz, The Marquis and the bravely catsuited Dick Jensen to produce albums of their musical effluence at their own expense. A new book celebrates these and other “vanity pressings” of the late 20th century, before the internet made people’s strange bedroom projects available to the scrutiny/ridicule of the planet.

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Of course, where there are records there are collectors, and the godfather of the “real people” genre is Paul Major, co-editor of the book, who kick-started his own collection by telling dealers: “If you get something that’s so bad you can’t believe it, send it to me.” He ended up with works from front-room crooners, chest-wigged cheese-balls and full-blown cosmic nutjobs, not to mention creepily named kiddie bands — such as dumpy girl group The Shaggs.

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The coffee-table book, which has already elicited praise from film director Larry Clark and The New Yorker’s music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, provides an affectionate overview of both the presentation skills of the musically-inclined but record-labelly-declined, and a chance to listen to a selection of songs through the included download card. It also looks like it could be ideal source material for Jon Heder, Will Ferrell and John C Reilly’s next comedy project (see The Links, below).

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992, edited by Johan Kugelberg, Michael P Daley and Paul Major (Sinecure Books) is out now.

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