True confession: I was a record nerd. Growing up a spent countless hours and the equivalent of the national budget of some small island nations searching for and buying up a wildly eclectic collection of albums, 45s and later CDs. At it’s peak my vinyl collection bulged to a floor board busting 10,000 pieces! Some of my favorite places on earth were dusty, old record shops where is could spend hours hunched over rack after rack of musical gems.
So to say that I can totally relate to Harold Bronson’s story of Rhino Records, both the store and the record label, is an understatement. In The Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds, Bronson details the beginnings of the legendary used record store that later evolved into a seminal boutique record label, famed for releasing a variety of novelty tunes and re-issuing classic recordings and repackaged collections.
In short, Bronson ended up with my version of a dream job. What collector has dreamed of the opportunity to search through the vaults of record labels then pull together not only great music, but cool packages; complete with awesome liner notes and great photos? Bronson provides some interesting insights into how some of the classic Rhino releases came into existence; unfortunately that’s where the story tends to slide off the rails.
Bronson’s narrative is so overloaded with asides and off ramps that Google Maps would find it hard to track the story. He drops in so many names and so many little anecdotes that that you never quite get the full picture of what went into the process. Don’t get me wrong; there is some great stuff in here, but it seems like Bronson wrote every story he could remember on individual 3 x 5 cards then tried to strong them all together in some coherent form, but somewhere along the way to publication, the rubber band broke and the cards flew all over the place.
Despite it’s lack of narrative cohesiveness, The Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds, is a fun read for a recovering music nerd, if taken in short bursts.