I’m an avid music collector with wildly eclectic tastes, and this book spoke to me like few books have before. I instantly connected with the accounts by the seven individuals involved in the project. In the book’s first section, music enthusiasts and contributors Lawrence Joseph, Dan Lander, Donal McGraith, Bill Smith, Alan Stanbridge, Scott Thomson, and Vern Weber, who share their backgrounds and trajectories as listeners: how they got turned on to music, how they moved from pop to music’s more arcane fields, and how those moves were mostly accretive rather than exclusive.
Editor Daniel Kernohan has selected contributors who cover a wide range of ages, occupations, and initial interests in music—with the notable exception of a woman’s presence. Is record collecting exclusively a guy thing? The range represented guarantees that any open-minded music collector will find someone with whom to identify.
The second section of the book features a series of musical epiphanies described in writing by the listener-contributors—albums or musical encounters that changed one or several participants’ perceptions of music and life. Despite being well-written and well-intended, I found these pieces to grow tiresome, even though I enjoyed comparing notes with the writers.
A third section culls the contributors’ lists of favourite and most important records. Clearly, research for the book developed the other way around: starting with Kernohan and company compiling their lists, then selecting records from these lists about which to write epiphany pieces, and finally, each writer turning his journey through music into a narrative. This final step is the most interesting one.