Now in paperback!
Little Labels —Big Sound
Small Record Companies and the Rise of American Music
Rick Kennedy and Randy McNutt
Foreword by Al Kooper
A wild ride through American popular music.
"[T]hese cats had their ears to the ground and cut vinyl that created the hip sounds of the day, sounds that still reverberate today. . . . Little Labels—Big Sound is a great primer into the history of these . . . independent record labels."
—Blue Suede News
"[L]ike the labels it celebrates and the 45s and the 78s those labels put out . . . full of exciting and vital content."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"In this straightforward and engaging collection of histories and profiles, the authors present a brisk overview of important indies and a look at several distinctive companies and the men who ran them . . ." —Billboard
"Show me a man today who could stand up to a Syd Nathan or a Don Robey, and I'll show you a man behind bars—not behind a desk. Why, without Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records and the man who unearthed Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rufus Thomas, and Howling Wolf to name but a few, there might not even have been any rock 'n' roll, electric blues, or rockabilly music."
—Al Kooper, from the Foreword
Rick Kennedy, a media relations manager and former journalist, is author of Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy (Indiana University Press).
Randy McNutt, a longtime reporter with the Cincinnati Enquirer, is author of We Wanna Boogie and a book on Ohio ghost towns.
March 2001 (cloth 1999) 224 pages, 33 b&w photos, 6 x 9, notes, bibl., index, append.
cloth 0-253-33548-5 $24.95 t / £18.95
paper 0-253-21434-3 $17.95 t / £13.95
Introduction: Little Labels and the American Beat, 1920-1970
1. Gennett Records
2. Paramount Records
3. Dial Records
4. King Records
5. Duke-Peacock Records
6. Sun Records
7. Riverside Records
8. Ace Records
9. Monument Records
10. Delmark Records
Little Labels on Reissue Anthologies
Kennedy and McNutt profile ten of the most influential independent record labels from the 1920s through the 1960s. While the major labels over this period garnered the lion's share of the market, the small labels produced some of the most significant music recorded at the time. Moreover, independent labels catapulted many artists to fame—e.g., Elvis Presley on Sun, Charlie Parker on Dial. Because the little labels typically served smaller geographic areas and concentrated on a single genre (jazz, blues, etc.), they provide better historical documents for researchers looking for eddies below the popular mainstream. Collectors have long recognized the importance of recordings issued by independent labels, as demonstrated by the high prices these records fetch. Now more researchers are paying attention to these artifacts, as the study of discography expands in scope. Although Kennedy and McNutt provide plenty of worthwhile information about artists, Little Labels concentrates on the fortunes of the owners/producers. Some of these stories have been told elsewhere (for example, in Kennedy's Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy, CH, Oct'94, which looks at the Gennett studio). The authors relied heavily on personal correspondence and interviews with surviving label owners; their secondary documentation is sparser or lacking. A worthwhile book for large music collections.~J. Farrington, Choice
. . . close-up portraits of risk-taking label owners who often gambled their careers and livelihoods to release music they believed in.~Billboard