Homemade Records

Before digital recording made the production and distribution of music cheaper and easier, would-be musicians had to take their recordings to pressing plants. For a fee, these plants produced professional looking records. While many of these records did not become popular, there are some collectors who see the records as a great example of individual creativity.

A back story is the information or history that led to the beginning of something.

One of those collectors is Johan Kugelberg. He, Paul Major and Michael P. Daley have put together a book called Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992.The book contains the covers and back stories of more than 1000 of these privately pressed recordings. The range of styles is impressive and includes folk to psychedelia. The Word spoke with Mr Kugelberg to learn more about these recordings.

“These homemade records were issued without the political and aesthetic slant of indie/DIY/punk records. The releases are by people whose yearning for self-expression was so strong that they’d transcend the cumbersome and expensive task of getting their own record made,” he said.

One of the many artists featured are The Shaggs, a group created by the Wiggins sisters. They formed a band after their father heard a prediction they would become a successful pop group. They only released one album called Philosophy of the World which never reached the success the Wiggins’ father hoped for. In later years, they became a cult group. Frank Zappa said they were better than The Beatles.

One argument vinyl record collectors make about the continued interest in records is that the
sleeve art
is more impressive. The larger size allows for more elaborate or even more dramatic artwork. Besides talking about this lost part of American culture, Enjoy the Experience shows the imaginative artwork of these personal creations.

“The sleeve designs, the more of them you look at, become an American vernacular. That is amazing,” Mr Kugelberg said.

Many people have commented on how much they enjoy the book. Sci-fi author William Gibson and avant-garde composer John Zorn have expressed appreciation of it. While many of the artists in the book will probably not be household names, the publication of this book is creating a lot of interest.

If you ‘flip out’ over something you get really excited about it. ‘My mother flipped out when I told her I was pregnant.’

“I love it when people who aren’t mired in record collecting culture flip out over these crazy sounds and graphics. It is happening a lot,” Mr Kugelberg said.

For all the variety, we wondered if the collection of artists had anything in common. Was there something besides the desire to be successful which made them create their own record?

“What Frederick Jackson Turner describes eloquently as the ingenuity of the American frontier spirit. American can-do, American can’t stop won’t stop getting-the-job-done creativity.”

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 is available through Sinecure Books.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Digital recording made producing music easier. But people who wanted to be musicians used to have to take their recordings to pressing plants. For a fee, these plants produced professional looking records. Many of these records did not become popular. But there are some collectors who see the records as examples of individual creativity.

A back story is the information or history that led to the beginning of something.

One of those collectors is Johan Kugelberg. He, Paul Major and Michael P. Daley wrote a book called Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992.The book contains the covers and back stories of more than 1000 of these privately pressed recordings. The Word spoke with Mr Kugelberg to learn more about these recordings. He said the people who made them were very dedicated.

One reason there is still an interest in records is the sleeve art. The larger size means there can be more impressive artwork. Besides talking about the records, Enjoy the Experience shows the imaginative artwork of these personal creations.

“The sleeve designs, the more of them you look at, become an American vernacular. That is amazing,” Mr Kugelberg said.

If we say something is a ‘household name’ it means it is something everyone knows about.

Many of the artists in the book will probably not be household names, the publication of this book is creating a lot of interest.

“I love it when people who aren’t mired in record collecting culture flip out over these crazy sounds and graphics. It is happening a lot,” Mr Kugelberg said.

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 is available through Sinecure Books.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Before digital recording made the production and distribution of music much cheaper and easier, would-be musicians had to take their recordings and dreams of musical fame to custom pressing plants. For a fee, these plants produced professional looking records. While many of these records were overlooked in their time, to a handful of collectors, the records became a prized example of individual creativity.

A back story is the information or history that led to the beginning of something.

One of those collectors is Johan Kugelberg who with Paul Major and Michael P. Daley has compiled a book called Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992.The book contains the covers and back stories of more than 1000 of these privately pressed recordings. The range of styles is impressive and includes folk to psychedelia. The Word contacted Mr Kugelberg to learn more about the origins of these recordings and see how they differ to indie, punk and other DIY recordings.

If something is cumbersome it is awkward and unmanageable. ‘The presentation my colleague put together was so cumbersome we had to start over. No one would understand it because it was so difficult and complex.’

“It is business-driven. It started when American pressing plants offered custom record-making services direct to consumers in the wake of the LP becoming more popular. It ends with the CD/CDR. These homemade records were issued without the political and aesthetic slant of indie/DIY/punk records. The releases are by people whose yearning for self-expression was so strong that they’d transcend the cumbersome and expensive task of getting their own record made,” he said.

One of the many artists featured are The Shaggs, a group created by the Wiggins sisters who formed a band following their father hearing a prediction they would become a successful pop group. They only released one album called Philosophy of the World which never reached the success the Wiggins’ father hoped for. In later years, they became a cult group, which was hailed by Frank Zappa as better than The Beatles.

The inspiration for the book came from Mr Kugelberg’s co-editor Paul Major, whose knowledge of obscure and original music, Mr Kugleberg described as “deep, fun and profound”. The book is more than just a collection of novelties. At the Sinecure Books website, the book is described as showcasing the forgotten talents overlooked by an industry ‘not understanding of nuance, not appreciative of character’. The book succeeds because it reflects the editors’ passion and deep understanding of the subjects. They are able to fit these recordings into their context.

“It is in the margins of popular culture where edges overlap and new ideas germinate. This is everyday life stuff, which is the reason that it is so fun, bizarre, cozy and idiosyncratic. Everyday life and everyday people and their crafts and art are charming and weird and wonderful. Mainstream swill is mainstream swill,” Mr Kugelberg said.

One argument vinyl record collectors make about the enduring appeal of records is that the sleeve art is so much more impressive. The larger size allows for more intricate or simply more dramatic artwork. Apart from highlighting this marginalized aspect of American culture, Enjoy the Experience showcases the imaginative range of artwork of these personal creations.

“If the music you consume is reduced to an event horizon of columns on your blue-glowing screen, you’ll doubtlessly notice that that ain’t much fun. And that the visceral thrill is missing. This book is one big visceral thrill. The sleeve designs, the more of them you look at, become an American vernacular. That is amazing,” Mr Kugelberg said.

Reception to the book has been quite positive. BBC DJ and singer Jarvis Cocker recently interviewed Mr Kugelman on Cocker’s Sunday Service program. Sci-fi author William Gibson and avant-garde composer John Zorn also expressed appreciation of the book. While many of these artists will probably not be household names, the publication of this book is certainly stimulating broader interest.

If you ‘flip out’ over something you get really excited about it. ‘My mother flipped out when I told her I was pregnant.’

“I love it when people who aren’t mired in record collecting culture flip out over these crazy sounds and graphics. It is happening a lot,” Mr Kugelberg said.

For all the variety, we wondered if the collection of artists represented a common artistic vein. Was there something apart from the desire to be successful which was uniting their endeavors?

“What Frederick Jackson Turner describes eloquently as the ingenuity of the American frontier spirit. American can-do, American can’t stop won’t stop getting-the-job-done creativity.”

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 is available through Sinecure Books.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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