“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. Click To Tweet

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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Stun­ning words, Neal…sincere thanks. 

Dave

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Awe­some. I’m from Cincin­nati. I’ll be or­dering this today.

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