Kurt of Gerolstein Blog
13 January, 2020
“Wonderfully opinionated, outrageously frank, and always sensible” Yes, that was me. I suppose it still is … but in 1991 book reviewers had balls (and column space). I guess this is one of my favorite notices of my all-time, so thank you Charis Gray for those words on my Blackwell Guide to the Musical Theatre on Record, first published in 1990. I just found that clipping while going through my old folders.
I had no intention of writing a book of ‘opinions’. I was, and am, an historian. My business is Facts.
But my editor at the – then joyful – firm of Basil Blackwell had begun a series of books about recordings. I think it had started with Country Music, or Folk Music on Record. He knew that Ian and I had an unparalelled collection of musical-theatre recordings, so he asked … and there went the next umpteen months of my life: listening to records. How many My Fair Ladys? How many Die lustige Witwes … how many dreadful vanity discs …
It was an odd time in the world of the ‘record’. The ‘vinyl’ recording of all our youthful passions had just been (temporarily?) superseded by the CD.
So, although I didn’t realise it, I was arriving at the end of an era, and more or less, writing its epitaph. I frantically tried to get up-to-date at the last moment, and included CD references … I shouldn’t have. This is a history and summary of musical theatre recordings on vinyl. And if I reissue it, that is what it will be called.
I may reissue it. It has, amazingly, been one of my most popular books. I (and my editor) expected, quite honestly, when it came out, a torrent of scorn mail from musical-theatre ultra-devotees who didn’t agree with my choices. You know the type of ‘ultras’ I mean. Hand on heart, I had not one. Though I did hear of one gentleman in Baltimore who swished his copy back to the bookshop, complaining that I failed to mention some part-record of Roberta.
The exercise, alas, had its downside. After so many months of listening to end-to-end show recordings (the many shelves of the records concerned are now enshrined at Harvard’s Theatre Library), I became glutted. For years thereafter, I could not listen to a show disc. Even now, I find it hard.
But I had done my task, and, unbelievably, two decades later, I still get messages from folk who have read and enjoyed the book … that’s reward enough.
Goodness, what else is in this folder. Many memories, I think.
To read the original article, click here.