More good reading for the summer: been reading around Jason Weiss’ latest tome: Always in Trouble: An oral history of ESP-DISK, the most outrageous Record Label in America published earlier this year by Wesleyan University Press. It truly is a sweet dippin’ & diggin’ book, depending on your mood — Albert Ayler or Roswell Budd, Evan Parker or William Parker, Gato Barbieri or Amiri Baraka. A fascinating look ‘behind the scenes’ I guess you could say. Writes Nathaniel Mackay: “Always in Trouble brims with lively, revealing stories and anecdotes. A multi-sided look at the legendary ESP record label, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the cultural explosions of the 1960s.” & here’s more of what the book has to say about itself:
In 1964, Bernard Stollman launched the independent record label ESP-Disk’ in New York City to document the free jazz movement there. A bare-bones enterprise, ESP was in the right place at the right time, producing albums by artists like Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and Sun Ra, as well as folk-rock bands like the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. But the label quickly ran into difficulties and, due to the politically subversive nature of some productions and sloppy business practices, it folded in 1974. Always in Trouble tells the story of ESP-Disk’ through a multitude of voices—first Stollman’s, as he recounts the improbable life of the label, and then the voices of many of the artists involved.
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“ESP’s music was startling, and it was unusual to have one company bring out so many styles of music at once under the same logo. This book takes a biographical approach to the label, and presents one of the best accounts I’ve seen of a chaotic, bizarre, and thrilling time.”—John Szwed, author ofAlan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World