The era of the LP began in 1967, with Sgt Pepper; The Beatles didn’t just collect together a bunch of songs, they Made An Album. Henceforth, everybody else wanted to Make An Album.
The end came only fifteen years later, coinciding with the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. By then the Walkman had taken music out of the home and into the streets and the record business had begun trying to reverse-engineer the creative process in order to make big money. Nobody would play music or listen to it in quite the same way ever again.
It was a short but transformative time. Musicians became “artists” and we, the people, patrons of the arts. The LP itself had been a mark of sophistication, a measure of wealth, an instrument of education, a poster saying things you dare not say yourself, a means of attracting the opposite sex, and, for many, the single most desirable object in their lives.
This is the story of that time; it takes us from recording studios where musicians were doing things that had never been done before to the sparsely furnished apartments where their efforts would be received like visitations from a higher power. This is the story of how LPs saved our lives.
David Hepworth has been writing, broadcasting and speaking about music and media since the seventies. He was involved in the launch and editing of magazines such as Smash Hits, Q, Mojo and The Word, among many others.
He was one of the presenters of the BBC rock music programme The Old Grey Whistle Test and one of the anchors of the corporation’s coverage of Live Aid in 1985. He has won the Editor of the Year and Writer of the Year awards from the Professional Publishers Association and the Mark Boxer award from the British Society of Magazine Editors.
He says Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell is the best record ever made. “This is not an opinion,” he says. “It’s a matter of fact.”
“Hepworth's knowledge and understanding of rock history is prodigious...he throws terrific little facts around like confetti...And his pungently sarcastic asides are priceless... Hugely entertaining.” – The Sunday Times.
“When reviewers say a book feels twice as long as it actually is, they are not usually being complimentary. In the case of David Hepworth’s paean to the age of vinyl, A Fabulous Creation, I really have come to praise him. It’s years since I came across a chronicle of the pop life containing so many arresting anecdotes that I found myself going back over pages to savour every line, every insight.” – The Times.
“Full of sharp critical assessments and droll digressions… warm and wonderfully readable.” – Q Magazine.
“His best yet.” – Danny Baker.
“Well researched and passionately written.” – The Afterword.
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.