THE BOOK EVERYONE WANTED—the book that buyers and sellers of collectable records regaled me to publish—was a price guide on rhythm & blues group-vocal 45s of the ’50s. Often referred to as ‘doo-wop’ music, it was perhaps the most passionately collected of all music (along with Japanese jazz collectors).
The mostly white guys in New York city who started hunting the really obscure and rare records back in the early ’60s can be argued to be the first modern record collectors—but that’s another story.
Despite how long these records had been collected and talked about, the actual values of even the merely modestly rare and desirable numbers were only known to a small group of aficionados.
The need for such a book was obvious. In fact, O’Sullivan Woodside had attempted to meet that need with a book titled Blues/Rhythm & Blues/Soul (1980) that somehow ignored most of the doo-wop records—along with rare records in general.
As the first printing of The Umphred Guide to Blues and Rhythm & Blues 45s of the ’50s was for an advanced, limited edition, it did not have finished cover artwork. Instead it looked like this: I hand-stamped “Advance Copy” on each book. For more on the whys and whatfors of this book—and the current wheres of the reamaining copies—you’ve come to the right place: Monaural Press.
Fifteen years of planning
So I started planning just such a book in 1986 when I was still with O’Sullivan Woodside and thought the future there was rosy. I continued wishing hoping praying for an opportunity to do such a book when I was writing all the Goldmine books in the ’90s when I thought the future there was rosy, too.
But when I left the confines of Goldmine, I set about realizing such a book, and started Monaural Press with the intentions of building a publishing empire. (Hah!)
Needless to say, that did not happen
Nor is it likely to in this life.
And I’ll tell you why on this blog—evetually.
The phrase “what about the Jets on Gee” was something I heard over and over again while putting the final touches on The Umphred Guide to Blues and Rhythm & Blues 45s of the ’50s. To find out more about this story and the rather rare record at its center, you’ve come to the right place: Monaural Press. (The record pictured above is a reproduction.)
Domain name registration
I registered the domain name ‘monauralpress.com’ four years ago and have been paying an annual fee to keep that name. As I can hardly afford to kiss any good money away, I’m putting this domain to use: Monaural Press (the blog) will be an ongoing work-in-progress.
As this blog is a small cog in my blog-building empire (Hah!), I will pay it some attention every now and then, keeping up some kind of narrative about my ideas for the book that I eventually published, the responses of the collecting community when they became are that I was near publication, getting the book to the printer—and this was way before print-on-demand (POD) was more than an idea—and what happened after receiving my initial shipment of books from the printer.
In September 2001.
(. . .)
And I will end here with what I hope is a pause (the ellipsis) pregnant with possibility.
You may be thinking, “What in tarnation is a baseball card—and a really old one at that!—doing in this article?” Read on, dear reader.
Reading the blog posts
I’m writing the story of making my book, Blues and Rhythm & Blues 45s of the ’50s, more or less chronologically. And chronologically is how you might want to read these posts—as they were first published. It will make more sense that way and lawdy, lawdy Miss Clawdy but we do need more sense in this world!
- another one bites the dust and fails
- you’d be wasting your time and mine but I didn’t mind
- the competition I faced in others’ books
- heaven above me—it’s the jets on gee!
- damn the naysayers! full speed ahead!
- knocking the socks off the nattering naysayers
- alcohol and jake blues and collecting really rare records
FEATURED IMAGES: The full-color photograph that at the top of this page and used as the background for this website is of an abandoned printing press found in the article “The Cranston drum-cylinder single-revolution newspaper press.” The gray-toned image at the top of this page is an engraving of Gutenberg inspecting one of the books he published. Gutenberg made the rare and privileged skill of reading into something that any man, woman, or child—meaning you and me and a few billion others—could learn and enjoy . . .