The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Liner notes as entertainment

3-18-09 Do you read liner notes as entertainment? If I don't have a book to read, liner notes will suffice!

In the case of a book(let) from a Bear Family CD boxed set, it is a book! Yes, I’ve read liner notes all my life. It used to be on the back cover of Atco LP’s, or ingenious Stan Cornyn liner notes on Warner / Reprise LP’s (I loved his book, “Exploding”). I love Japanese-pressed LP’s & CD’s, but…can’t always read the liner notes! More recently, in the case of little paper album cover CD, they sometimes re-produce the entire CD booklet in English, and just add a Japanese language insert! Hooray!

Re-issue liner notes are frequently my bedside reading. Added bonus: not as long as a book, so one can usually finish before nodding off (though I will confess to nodding off a few times, CD still playing, my feeble hands having dropped the CD booklet into my bedding).

Yes, I certainly try to read all the liner notes in CD’s that I get, in due course. Often illuminating, I find. I like essays, but also enjoy the ‘nuts & bolts’ (i.e. a good detailed discography). Sometimes, liner notes make me get up and update my ‘want lists’!

Certainly one of the reasons that I was very fond of the Warner / Reprise ‘loss leaders’ was because of the (Stan Cornyn) liner notes – it took almost as long to read those liner notes as it did to listen to those double LP’s all the way through!

I have a rather large collection of books about popular music – both reference works and biographies / autobiographies. Al Kooper “Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards”. I loved both of the books by the one British writer where he asked Hugh Cornwell and Ian Dury about all of the lyrics to almost all of their songs. Countless hours of bedside reading. Manu Dibango “Three Kilos Of Coffee” – a wonderful book.

I try to stay away from books that are too (physically) large, like those recently encyclopedia-sized volumes about both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Best CD liner notes: The 26CD set of Sony Records “Century Of Sound” – that’s a whole coffee table book! The UK 4CD set of Charisma Records had a pretty nice large format booklet that took a while to digest – way more than ‘merely an annotated discography’. Although, a super good annotated discography always interests me!

Yes, I like to read about music, record collecting. And I do not always necessarily listen to music, while I am reading!

I’ve only ever written one set of published liner notes: on Watermelon “Out Of Body Experience”, a Japanese CD. Shame I can’t also read Moichi Kuwahara’s accompanying liner notes (they’re in Japanese). And as far as your rock bookshelf, I wrote the discography in Mike Chunn’s (of Split Enz) first book.

- Ron


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Books that are too large

The new printing of "The Curse Of Lono" was more like exercise than reading! Yes, I read it in bed! But Ralph Steadman's illos never looked better...

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

When I first started making my own boxed sets, I tended to make PDF liner notes and throw it on a disc where they would fit. Sometimes these were interactive. For the Simple Minds set I did HTML on a CD-ROM since I wanted to learn how to use Dreamweaver. The Claudia Brucken disc has a 212 pp PDF book, no questions asked. The Voice of the Beehive has a PDF half that size, but 110 pp is still a book to me. Both of those featured a LOT of discographic detail with only a smattering of "editorial copy."

Since I now have the use of a fine color laser I find myself going to more traditional printed booklets. It makes the end product even more "real" for me. Plus I can read the boklet without electricity! I had my first color booklets in the H17 and China Crisis sets. I did run into a fubar on the new Spandau set. It is 8 pp more than the China Crisis booklet and it is too thick to be placed in the JB with the 6 discs! The thickness of the booklet causes the JB front and back to buckle away from the case being snapped closed.

I tend to be putting more "editorial copy" on the REVO website instead of in the booklets themselves, but there is no reason why this couldn't change. I tend to like the "record per page" format but that had led to page counts of over 40 pages with some projects! I may have to move to 2-up to get the booklets a little thinner. At that time, I may re-edit the web copy for the booklet for more of a lasting piece. Still, than problematic Spandau booklet (with glossy covers, no less) is a nice little artifact with some heft.

I lust love being my own label. My whole life haas led to this point.

11:20 AM  

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