Little Labels - Big Sound

Little Labels - Big Sound

Small Record Companies and the Rise of American Music
Rick Kennedy and Randy McNult, foreword by Al Kooper, edited by Rick Kennedy and Randy McNutt
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/22/1999
Format: Paperback 33 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-21434-8
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An Exceptional Book, Bookman News

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

Author Bio

Rick Kennedy, a media relations manager, worked for a decade as a journalist. Kennedy plays jazz piano and is the author of Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Studios and the Birth of Recorded Jazz (Indiana University Press).

Randy McNutt is a longtime reporter with the Cincinnati Enquirer and the author of We Wanna Boogie: An Illustrated History of the American Rockabilly Movement and a book on Ohio ghost towns.


“"In this era of monolithic record companies and predictably contrived music, it's refreshing to read about mavericks who took chances. . . . a look at ten visionaries who altered the course of popular music." —Playboy " . . . [a] volume that—like the labels it celebrates, and the 45s and 78s those labels put out—is full of exciting and vital content." —San Francisco Chronicle "This book is a great piece of storytelling. . . . well written, crammed full of interesting facts, and great fun." —Dirty Linen Little Labels—Big Sound celebrates 10 legendary record labels, their founders and the artists they developed. From the 1920s through the 1960s, scores of small, independent record companies nurtured distinctly American music: jazz, blues, gospel, country, rhythm and blues, and rock’n’roll. These companies, run on shoestring budgets, were on the fringe of mainstream culture. Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, James Brown, Roy Orbison, and other musicians brought regional American styles to a world audience and won enduring fame for themselves. But often forgotten are the colorful owners of small record labels who first recorded these musicians and helped to popularize their sound before the dominant, more bureaucratic competitors knew what had happened.”

“ . . . close-up portraits of risk-taking label owners who often gambled their careers and livelihoods to release music they believed in.”
 — Billboard

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Table of Contents

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