Book Review: Twisting by the Pool

Rock & roll summer reading

Twisting by the Pool

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992

by Johan Kugelberg, Michael P. Daley, and Paul Major
Sinecure Books, 512 pp., $65

Once upon a time in a world not so far away, making your own records was a prohibitive proposition. Between the high costs of recording and manufacturing, and the impossibilities of distribution in the pre-Internet era, vanity records were the province of the bold, the unconventional, and the highly deluded. From idiosyncratic lounge singers and pizza parlor organists to loner folkies, psychedelic gospel messengers, and uncomfortably earnest anti-pop stars, Enjoy the Experience chronicles the golden age of private pressings with contagious aplomb. A certain degree of irreverence is to be expected when confronted by thousands of garish LP covers and an accompanying 2-CD set featuring heretofore unimaginable performers like Dennis the Fox funking it up on the singularly wrong "Piledriver," but Kugelberg and his contributors avoid familiar cool-and-strange tropes to focus on the subliminal purity of these albums. Aside from outsider standard-bearers like the Shaggs and Gary Wilson, this textbook-length ride navigates unfamiliar terrain. Kenneth Higney's acidified disco melts down into the mob-financed tambourine sweetness of Houston family band the Rhodes Kids before leaving you stuck in the weeds with psych-country warbler Peter Grudzien and ham-fisted Dallas MOR lady-killer Palmer Rockey. The ultimate legacy of these unearthed obscurities remains their sheer resilience.

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