I own many thousands of LPs and CDs, but I don't think I'm a record collector. Most collectors I've known obsess about getting the best pressing of a LP, or about the condition of the jacket, but I don't give a hoot about those things. So when I spotted Eilon Paz' "Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting" 436-page coffee table book, I almost passed it by.
But I didn't; maybe it was the look of the guy's face on the cover, perched way up there at the top of his LP wall peering into a gatefold jacket that hooked me. Flipping through page after page of Mr. Paz' photos of avid collectors clutching their prized albums and 45 singles warmed my heart. They looked happy, coveting these inanimate objects that contain the music that means so much to them. The book is loaded with photographs and interviews with 130 collectors in the US, Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Holland, Argentina and Japan. There's a foreword by RZA.
Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is interviewed, and credits record collecting with some part of his success with his band, The Roots, as well landing his steady gig on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." The quotes from everyday collectors, say things like "The good news is my kids get excited to see a record spinning on the turntable. The bad news is my kids get excited to see a record spinning on the turntable."
The quotes made me smile and I bonded with these folks. There's no doubt about the joy and satisfaction collectors get from music, the book celebrates that. Their collections say something about who they are as people.
We may live in a time where most people are perfectly happy to be free of physical media, so I found it especially gratifying to meet kindred spirits who truly relish it, and seek to amass a collection of music that touches them.
So maybe I am a collector after all; the physical connection to recorded music has always fascinated me. Holding an LP jacket (or CD booklet) in my hands as I listen adds to the experience, which may be one of the reasons digital music files don't do a lot for me. I need a physical connection to the music.
The folks populating the pages of "Dust & Grooves" are passionate about just about every genre: rock, jazz, folk, world, classical, rap, hip-hop, garage, reggae; but some focus on specific labels or artists, and for many collectors the pursuit of recorded music is a life-long journey.