Enjoy the Experience The Music Crack’d
Vanity pressings are not a crime

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 | Sinecure Books / Now-Again Records
Hardcover, 512 pages, removable OBI ribbon, comes with download card for dozens of tracks; simultaneous release of both a 2-disc vinyl and a 2-CD music compilation

Inquire within: A sticker on the front of this book bears a proclamation from filmmaker Larry Clark: “The greatest coffee table book ever made.” And dang me if he isn’t right about that. Enjoy the Experience is spectacular; better yet, it’s inspiring. I will explain:

This is the largest collection of American vinyl albums ever collected, in a weighty (approx. five pounds) old-fashioned BOOK chock-fulla beauteous color photo reproductions of album cover images and accompanying essays/texts by a slew of wonderfully unclichéd, fanatical, expert obscure-record collectors. Edited by Johan Kugelberg, Michael P. Daley & Paul Major, Enjoy the Experience offers a time and place where recording “artists” who just really wanted to make a record and get it heard were for the most part shut out or hindered owing to the music industry’s big-bossy biz-structure domination, where access to recording studios and even less to label deals and distribution were the near-exclusive purview of these towering corporate entities and, well, not to people who, again, just wanted to make a record album.

Undeterred, or at least a bit naēve, these rock, soul, jazz, funk, lounge, singer-songwriter-leaning individuals pursued their dreams. As writer/co-editor Eothan Alapatt puts it, they were “Working privately, indulging fantasy and creating the fantastic.” Their recorded output, as you might recall, used to be termed “vanity pressings,” which, given the heartbreaking earnestness of their endeavors, seems way off the mark. In fact, these yearning souls’ industrious and completely uncynical going-for-it joy in what they did is in part what makes their resulting, well, art –– including the “bad taste” album cover graphics –– thought-provoking, and genuinely moving. (The other part is the eternally fascinating potential of music and visual art that comes about admixturing sincere desire, real or imagined technical skills and utter tone-deafness to nattering nabobs of naysaying vis a vis concept and execution – i.e., happily accidental art.)

Generously devoting tons of space for lengthy, detailed biographies on the obscure folks who made this music, Enjoy the Experience’s writers/editors for the most part understand and make clear that their amazement at these "amateur" musicians' stories isn’t necessarily related to irony or mere cheap scornful laffs. As Kugelberg emphasizes in his supremely resonant introduction, we’ve all been programmed to patronize about music and art that hasn’t been buffed shiny clean and free of uncommodifiable deformities. And in describing this music’s effect, several of the notes writers refer to something similar –– a feeling –– that places the seeking listener in the crack between musics, a warm, vibrating chasm located somewhere between these recordings’ deeply motivated artists’ ambitions, intents and actual results.

How and why do we listen to music at all, then? Here we have an excellent opportunity to fall into beautiful (in their very own way) cracks in our humdrum, handed-down-wisdom realities, and to immerse in thrilling creativity itself. Equally exciting, once you’ve enjoyed this experience, is the thought that there’s probably even loads more of this “great” (and it is fact great) music out there in the hinterlands, gathering dust ‘neath someone’s bed, in the kitchen cabinet behind the pickled onions.

For more info & how to buy: http://sinecurebooks.com/enjoy-the-experience

–– John Payne

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