“stacks of wax” is a history of record labels based in cincinnati, ohio

Estimated reading time is 3 minutes.

BOOK REVIEWS ARE NOT MY THING here on Rather Rare records, but exceptions to unwritten rules are often good things. So here is a review of “Stacks Of Wax – The Complete History Of The Record Labels Of Cincinnati, Ohio,” a self-published effort by David Bottoms. While the book covers a wide variety of imprints, Syd Nathan’s King Records and its various subsidiaries get the spotlight.

David and I met on Facebook, where we tend to agree on a great many things, both musically and politically. He sent me a copy of an earlier edition of this book that was 180 pages and spiral-bound. It was a good read and I learned more than I will (probably) ever need to know about record companies in the home of Pete Rose. (I’m a Phillies fan so I can’t say enough good things about the player.)

Stacks Of Wax is an 8½ x 11-inch, perfect-bound paperback book that is 550 pages in length and was published in 2020. The text below (between the image of the front cover of the book and the Featured Image) was listed from the website page David set up for the book.

 

Front cover of David Bottoms' book STACKS OF WAX, published in 2020.

This is the front cover for the book Stacks Of Wax – The Complete History Of The Record Labels Of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Stacks of wax

The book is a history of the numerous record labels based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The most prominent of these was King Records, begun in 1943 by Syd Nathan. The King label included subsidiaries Queen, Federal, DeLuxe, Bethlehem, and Audiolab, each important in their own right. Also examined are Fraternity, Rite, Lee, Lucky, Ruby, and Saxony, as well as dozens of other small to tiny operations.

 

First page of Introduction to David Bottoms' book STACKS OF WAX, published in 2020.

Second page of Introduction to David Bottoms' book STACKS OF WAX, published in 2020.

This is the 2-page Introduction to Stacks Of Wax – The Complete History Of The Record Labels Of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Description

The book moves forward chronologically, discussing the city’s story with regard to radio and the recording industry as well as placing that story within the larger picture of American popular music and its many and varied forms. 

The city’s cultural milieu figured prominently in its growth, and accordingly, the story delves into Cincinnati’s racial development and relations over time, examining serial influxes of migrants seeking work and the effects such movement and changing populations had on local/regional music.

The industry of recorded music is material to the story, as are changing trends in popular tastes, competition at all levels of the business, and the impact of entrepreneurial figures on what was largely a very corporate environment.

The book offers insight into the very specific importance of independent record companies, their effect on 20th-century culture, and their lasting contributions to American creative expression.

 

Back cover of David Bottoms' book STACKS OF WAX, published in 2020.

This is the back cover for the book Stacks Of Wax – The Complete History Of The Record Labels Of Cincinnati, Ohio.

About the author

David Bottoms moved to Ohio in 1992 and was immediately struck by the city’s tangible history - a cultural legacy contained not only in its layout, architecture, civic pride, and vitality but also in its storied creative contributions. As a writer, historian, music lover, and record collector he hit upon an idea: why not write the definitive history of Cincinnati’s numerous, influential record companies?

So began a 25-year project, a vast undertaking of research and critique that examined the city’s interpretations of musical styles and forms, from the earliest settlers to the practitioners of today. He hopes the book, through this exhaustive approach, will also provide a meditation upon the country’s musical progression at large, thus sparking ongoing scholarship and appreciation.

David Bottoms’ STACKS OF WAX is a history of the numerous record companies based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The most prominent of these was King Records, begun in 1943 by Syd Nathan. Share on X

Photo of 78 rpm record "Steppin' Out Kind" by Grandpa Jones from 1944.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from the cover of the Stacks Of Wax book. The record on the player is King 513, Steppin’ Out Kind, a 1944 country tune by Grandpa Jones. For more information—this time straight from the author, check out David’s explanatory video on YouTube by clicking here.

Stacks Of Wax retails for $40 plus shipping at Book Baby. If you are interested in ordering a copy, click here.

 

 

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