Book Review – “Dust & Grooves: Adventures In Record Collecting” by Eilon Paz

The internet is an amazing beast.  The platform it provides for people to communicate and share ideas is staggering, and I’d guess that our ability to connect with others has expanded more in the last 10 years or so than in the rest of human history put together.  I can write a blog post, and people anywhere in the world can see it, comment on it, or contact me.  But there is also the flip side – it’s a vast wasteland of crap and scams and celebrity news, a place where people can hide behind screen names and act like assholes.  But that’s not the internet’s fault; that’s all on the people who use it that way.  The internet is just a tool.  Nothing more.

Music fans, like any other group of fans, hobbyists, or people with similar interests, have certainly embraced the internet as a platform for communicating with each other.  When I got back into vinyl I started searching out blogs and online resources that fit my specific interests, and that’s how I stumbled across Eilon Paz’s website Dust & Grooves.  Eilon is an Israeli ex-pat photographer living in New York who is also an avid record collector, and the website was a way for him to combine his two passions by interviewing record collectors and photographing them in their homes with their collections.

I was hooked immediately.  From his profile of 76-year-old Joe Bussard and his seemingly impossibly huge collection of 78s (and who describes rock ‘n’ roll as “the cancer of music”) to traveling to Africa with Frank Gossner to chase down local funk music, to my all-time favorite, the journey to Mustafa’s basement in Istanbul to drink coffee and check out his lovingly amassed collection of local records, I read and re-read them all, checking back in weekly hoping there would be a new one posted.  So when I read that Eilon was putting together a book based on the website I knew I had to buy a copy.  I only wish I would have participated in the Kickstarter campaign to show my support in a more significant way (sorry Eilon!).

So what better day to release Dust & Grooves:  Adventures In Record Collecting than the record collector’s Christmas, aka Record Store Day.  There were a few stores in Seattle carrying it, so we headed over to Silver Platters in Seattle’s SODO area to hopefully get one of the three copies they ordered – and fortunately they still had one left by time we got there.

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Dust and Grooves:  Adventures In Record Collecting is a monster tome, a big (nearly 10″ by 12″), heavy 400+ page hardback that could certainly be described as a “coffee table book,” though that’s selling it short because it’s much more substantial than that.  The first 273 pages are devoted more or less exclusively to Paz’s fantastic photos, many of which are done in the collage style that Eilon does so well, with quotes from collectors about their passion for vinyl interspersed.  There are even two pull-out “centerfolds” that give the photographer even more canvas to show his shots in all their glory.

The remaining portion of the book is devoted to collector profiles, a dozen in all, done in a similar fashion to those appearing on Paz’s website.  Some of these in fact were culled from the site, including those of the aforementioned Bussard and Gossner, but there are plenty of new ones here too (I think it’s about half and half).  This isn’t a catalog or a book full of arcane knowledge that is going to help you figure out of your copy of that “original” Beatles record is actually valuable or not.  It’s a journey through our shared obsession.  It will make you feel good inside and make you want to immediately go out to the used record store and start digging.  It will remind you that music matters.  And why.

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This might be a hard book to track down in stores, but fear not vinyl-heads because you can buy it directly from Eilon’s website HERE, in both a regular edition and a signed/numbered limited edition.  And it’s worth every penny.