New Book on Soul LPs just released.
I hope it is deemed acceptable for me to bring a new book I have written to the attention of the forum.
I would like to make people aware of a 408 page hardback book I have just written which is now available for sale. As I have said on the product description on Amazon :
This is the definitive attempt in book form to list and discuss thousands of soul LPs that were issued in the vinyl era. Volume 1 addresses album releases by hundreds of artists from the famous - James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin - to the much more obscure - John Byrd, Harmon Bethea and Geater Davis. Beautifully produced in hardback, including 108 colour photographs of LP covers, Spinning Around : The History Of The Soul LP, Volume 1 : A - K, is the first truly comprehensive study of this topic ever undertaken anywhere in the world.
My plan was to announce this in conjunction with its availability on Amazon but trying to get it ready for sale there is proving to be a nightmare although I'm sure it will be sorted out soon.
An alternative means of sale is simply for anyone who is interested in buying a copy to contact me directly at email@example.com and I can ship copies directly. Price is £20 + £2.80 postage anywhere in the UK.
Same selling price holds true for other parts of the world but postage is going to be expensive, I'm afraid, as book is heavy. But it really looks great, If I say so myself.
New books are always welcomed here. Best of luck with this.
John, this looks very interesting, as I always preferred to buy albums rather than singles. Is it an exhaustive listing, for example would it list every album issued by artists (excluding compilations) issued both in the US and the U.K.? And do you foresee 3 books or 4 in the series?
Thanks, Mike. It is an exhaustive listing of LPs by artists I have deemed to be in scope and it would take too long to explain here what that means, although the book itself makes it clear. In short later 'soul' artists who didn't start releasing records until the eighties are out of scope. So no Whitney Houston, for example. I've also excluded various artists compilations as there are loads and loads of them and I wanted to try and ensure the book doesn't get too heavy ( it already weighs 1800 grammes) and that I don't spend the rest of my life writing it.
Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK
I am still covering hundreds, if not thousands, of artists and, yes, it covers releases in UK and US ( and other countries, too, so I have included LPs that only came out in Japan, for example.)
The other main criterion is that artists have to be American. (Again, this is purely to try and stop book taking for ever to complete. )
There will be a second volume covering artists from L - Z. I expect that will take me another two years to complete.
Sounds very good! I'll order directly from you.
The book arrived today, very impressive on brief inspection & I am looking forward to reading it, although I'm not an avid reader, so it could take me longer to read it than it took you to write it.
Thanks very much for kind words and I hope you enjoy it. If it takes you longer to read than me to write, then you'll still be reading in 2019 !
Originally Posted by mr soul
Hmmm...just in time for volume 2.
Hi John, I just discovered your posting and your new "Spinning Around" book which looks excellent! I've always loved reference books pertaining to recorded music, and your new book on Soul albums is no exception! I'm gonna need to wait and buy my copy from Amazon, as I'm an Amazon Prime member which entitles me to free 2nd-day shipping as well as receiving the book on the same day of release. Don't worry, though -- I've already searched and found your book on Amazon (although not yet available), and I've added the link to my list of "Favorites". I'll be checking daily until the day it becomes available at which time I'll order my copy immediately. Thanks for such an exhausting endeavor! Can hardly wait to get my copy! - Gary
Very briefly, the book arrived this morning and absolutely exceeds expectations - a tour de force on a huge subject! Aside from the actual putting words down on paper, it occurs to me that in order to write each review, the author actually had to listen to each album. And given the number of albums, that is truly mind-boggling. Firstly, getting access to each album to listen to, secondly the time it takes to listen through each album, carrying out the background research on the album, and then the setting down of the opinion. This is a massive undertaking in the same spirit and commitment as the DFTMC and Motown Junkies websites.
Like the author, I abandoned 45s at the outset for LPs and for exactly the same reasons, back in 1966! I have long recognised the soul LP lives in the shadow of the soul 45 and has been somewhat neglected. I have long thought there was a need for a definitive soul album reference book, and this is exactly what ‘Spinning Around – The History of The Soul LP ‘is.
First thing I did was RTFM rather than my usual habit of delving straight into the tome. I took time to read the preface and introduction, thereby understanding the house rules and locking into the methodology John Lias employed. I'd urge anyone else to do likewise to get the very best out of the book.
Secondly, it rapidly dawned on me that unlike numerous other soul books/ encyclopaedias/ discographies/ reviews, the book is written in a conversational style, i.e., the author sets out his personal opinion and one finds oneself silently responding in agreement or otherwise. I’m sure many of us have strongly held views on what are great soul albums or otherwise and have our own favourites and disappointments, but don’t necessarily discuss our views with anyone. The format and style of this book very much facilitates that kind of engagement.
It stimulates, challenges and reaffirms one's own opinions and causes one to dig out those neglected albums sitting in those crates and reacquaint oneself with all those sadly unheard tracks.
This is as comprehensive study of the American Soul LP as one could ever wish for; the layout is easy to negotiate, the writing style is knowledgeable and to the point, the sheer size of the subject necessitates being split into two volumes, it’s worth every penny/ cent and it will be indispensable to anyone who is passionate about soul music. It will definitely not disappoint. Oh, and it just proves that no matter how deep one is in the subject matter, one never stops learning and discovering new aspects of the music, the artists and the art form.
Hi, Gary and thanks for these words. The book is most definitely available on UK Amazon as I've been selling a lot of copies, but NOT on USA Amazon and nor will it be. It's expensive for me to ship books outside of UK using Amazon. I'm not sure where you are based , Gary ?
Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary
However, I CAN easily ( and have been) shipping outside of UK but in those instances people simply need to send me an email directly and then pay by paypal.
Hi John, you're very welcome. I'm located in the U.S. I'll submit my order via your email address (above) and we'll take it from there. Thanks! - Gary
John Lias' latest book 'Spinning Around' The History of The soul LP' is by all accounts a surprise best seller and remembering Lias from his days on 'Voices from the Shadows' I bought a copy. Its a scholarly and enlightening read that has pushed me into (re)registering on this site so I can express my enthusiasm for the project.
The ambition to record every soul LP from c 1960 to 1982 and to write about them is impressive and what's more impressive is that Lias has achieved the task with verve and passion. Lias is opinionated but he's never dogmatic. There's a review of the greats: Etta , Aretha , Hathaway, Four Tops , Dramatics etc alongside the decidedly obscure: Perk Badger, Bobby Boyd, Carrie Cleveland anyone?. There's a huge amount of original research from Lias and some friends who include John Ridley and David Cole, both esteemed writers on soul music.
I've been living with the book for about one month now and it is all ready well thumbed and annotated. As the research is so comprehensive it's proved a fantastic asset and I'd have thought that anyone interested in Soul music will get so much from this book. At £20 for a weighty tome it is well priced.
Are there any downsides? Not really - one or two artists such as Roy Ayers and Bobby Caldwell are missed out presumably because John feels that they are not primarily soul artists. He does however include Michael Jackson who wouldn't have been a choice of mine as a soul singer. These are quibbles. The book is selling fast apparently and seems likely to be regarded as a classic in years to come. A second volume will appear in three years time I understand from various websites. I'm looking forward to the next phase.
Last edited by YellowCampion; 05-03-2016 at 09:55 AM.
Reason: Correct error of fact.
On Amazon, it is listed as "out of print/limited availability". I'll send an email.
It will always show as unavailable on U.S. Amazon as I cant sell it through that medium except at a loss so anyone outside of UK can easily buy it from me directly. I am subsidising postage to make it cheaper.
Originally Posted by Bokiluis
My review of the book .... published a while back .... it would make a great Xmas pressie ...
SPINNING AROUND – A History of the Soul LP Vol.1 by John Lias
If any soul fans have coffee tables, then this is the definitive book to place atop that table. Not only does it look very impressive with it's bold black hardback cover and red graphics with white text, but it will impress any visitors that pick it up. What it does is what it says on the cover; this encyclopedia of soul knowledge runs to over 400 pages and lists just about every detail a fan would wish to know about all soul LP's made by artists who's names fall into the A to K band.
However, if you're not looking for a 'coffee table' item to show off your credibility, what would this book do for you. Put simply, if you're into albums made by soul artists then this will complete your life. You don't get any facts on how much each LP listed is worth, but then why would you want to depress yourself with such information. A 'little birdie' informs me that at least one LP has been missed from this weighty tome but I'm not the type to snitch and inform you what that is. The book opens with a preface and then an introduction which explain what it is that is about to follow. Then it's straight into the 'meat & two veg' facts. On page one of the album listing we get both Ace Spectrum and Barbara Acklin, so it doesn't take long to get to the good stuff. To say that the descriptions of both's album output is complete is an understatement. You get life facts on the artists where appropriate (& known) – for instance did you know that Barbara Acklin started out at her record company as a secretary !! With regard to Ace Spectrum, we learn who the main (long term) group members were and about all the different writers / arrangers that they worked with. The book is a very wordy affair so if you're wanting visual reminders (LP cover pictures) to go with the text, then you're going to be disappointed. But, that would make it a whole different manual. Plus the colour printing required and extra space needed would push the price up beyond the reach of most prospective buyers.
Of course, John brings his own perspective to each album that is dealt with in this volume. If you're a massive fan of mid 70's Casino stompers then I doubt John's view on all things soulful will mesh with yours. But then if you're a Wigan-era zealot, you'll mainly be interested in facts on 45's not LP's. We don't get any info on compilation albums in here, though the finest of such releases (for instance the Impressions UK 'Big Sixteen' releases) do get a mention in passing. Indeed, over four pages are needed to cover the complete works of Chicago's most magnificent group – the Impressions. The facts on the group and their LP releases are split up into different sections to account for the changes in their personnel / sound down the years. I like John's opinion on this outfit (one of the greatest groups of all time) so I will not let my bias show by quoting detail by the shovelful. Lets just say, that mentions for Big 16 Vol.1 and Vol.2 had to be made even though these were compilations, however as they are single-artist affairs, they just managed to scrape in (getting over John's qualification bar). Mind you, the group's last ABC outing (a collection of mainly old standards that must have been sitting in the vaults) does get a panning.
But you just need to open up the book at any random page; lets say for this review the spread on pages 302/303 and you get the whole truth with regard to some artists LP output. On these two pages we get the lowdown on Brenda Holloway (including her UK 'Artistry of' release), Eddie Holloway & Loleatta Holloway. John starts the review of Brenda's work with a statement that may get some Motown fans pondering. In his piece on Eddie Holloway, the guy's 45 output features large in the explanatory facts and Loleatta gets over a complete page of fascinating detail to cover her output. Each artist takes their turn in alphabetical order, both the greats and the minor players. So not only do you get to read all about Marvin Gaye, Eddie Kendricks and Gladys Knight but also about the likes of Perk Badger, the Bell Brothers, Beverly & Duane, the recently passed C L Blast (I have that elusive 'Made In Africa' LP John !!) and Lou Bond. It's not a book to read from cover to cover in one go (IMHO) but as a resource for reference, I don't think it could have been improved. If Wikipedia ever decided to set up a dedicated section on soul music, they wouldn't need to go anywhere else than this book to have (almost) the complete story. John has already assured buyers that, as long as sales levels meet expectations, then Volume 2 is a stone cold certainty. It needs to be, as that coffee table has just the empty spot that another scholarly work would fill to perfection. If, however, what you're after is the definitive reference book on soul, then I don't think you need to look any further than this 5* effort.
Here's a link to the reviews on Amazon UK.
I will pick up a copy. We'll be in touch.
My review from May last year at