Not just another book about vinyl.
I’m not sure if all the publishers conspired to make all the books on vinyl different, but this one stands out from the crowd for many reasons.
First off is the silkscreened corrugated cardboard cover, not just practical to house the free Ariel Martian designed keyring, but a tactile reminder of the packaging boxes within which we’d all expect to find exciting vinyl content!
Full Vinyl differs from the other recent releases. It refuses to fall into the encyclopedic style of Dot Dot Dash, each page looks much more designed and carefully managed. Also, the content sticks well to a vinyl that has been – the vinyl history. It is here this book holds its own. Each featured artist gets a write-up, be it interview or biography.
Author Ivan Vartanian has set out to document the world of vinyl, and we mean the whole world – the book, in places, divides itself into continental categories. It takes us on a journey bouncing in and out of Japan, to visit the US and on through Europe. However, it is the Japanese content that is the most educational. Whilst we are familiar with the Japanese stylings of US artist Kaws and the hardcore style of Bounty Hunter there are enough treats to learn more about the depth of vinyl Asia and beyond.
The visual content flows from the self-design Bounty Hunter pages, to a more simple relay of familiar vinyl toys and illustrated characters. There are even a few choice bites of new toys yet to be seen on shelves – particularly Nathan Jerevicius’ Arkski and Seoop toys, and pencil sketches of other yet to be seen characters. Others have opted for a safe past history of their place in vinyl.
Whilst those names we all recognise get their place, it’s the lesser seen/written areas that have needed a good publication to catalogue their place in vinyl history. So Gargamel, Kaiyodo, Kow Yokoyama makes deserved appearances and it is here I will use this book time and again – to brush up onÂ vinyl knowledge and research.
However, I’m not sure if publishers with an eye on the vinyl world hurry books through the editorial process – through fear of missing a deadline and ending up as yesterday’s news (the vinyl world is a fast paced place) – but I spotted one or two editorial mishaps of missing letters or mis-spaced words. But no more than other publications of this type. This said the factual content looks reliable throughout.
The accompanying essays are very well written. Several feature intellectual insight, sometimes requiring a ‘read again’ to understand fully the direction of debate. But debate it is, and it comes across as thoughtful and adds weight to this publication where other books on vinyl have missed out. Among the lighter, but equally well informed, essays comes Clutter’s introduction to the UK scene. Jarvis, Fowler, TADO and Burgerman are the names in favour here. Coverage which recognises reliance on the past successes of these artists, and looks to find a happy future for vinyl. The other essays seek out deeper reasons for the pleasure of collecting. Carlo McCormick’s Vinyl Rules piece covers 70s/80s pop-art and reflects on how this emerged and how vinyl has played similar tricks to becoming noticed. Subheadings of From Oddity to Industry and From Nostalgia to Craze guide us through what could otherwise be a mindfield of contemporary art history.
Along with the other essays about the whys and wheres – Akio Iida’s A Subculture Joins the Mainstream is required reading – there are pieces like Old School Kaiju, from Godzilla to the inspiration on the present day, filling us in on where it all really started. The book ends with Controlled Scarcity which recalls past stumblings upon toy collecting phenomena and the attempts to recreate the same thing again (pointing out where it failed and succeeded).
A fair opinion of Full Vinyl is that there is something for everyone – parts where you can savour your favourite artists, parts where you can learn new facts about other artists and parts where you can learn a lot about why vinyl is where it is today. From this it’s up to you to draw your own conclusion as to where vinyl will head to in the future.
Full Vinyl is published by Collins Design An Imprint of Harper Collins and is available now from all good bookshops.