And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We have Loved and Lost is a visually appealing, coffee-table style book, that documents the history of my people through the albums I grew up with – and some I didn’t.
Of course I know the music of Barry, Barbra, and the two Neils, but there’s plenty of other Judaic music that I knew nothing about until I stumbled on this little gem. My old friend Steve, who runs this website, suggested I buy it, and when I couldn’t get it on my Kindle, I ordered it online. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package and discovered a beautifully designed and written book that took me down memory lane. And, like every other music book I’ve read and reviewed for this site, it inspired me to do further research via the Internet about the authors – Roger Bennett and Josh Kun - and their record label called Reboot Stereophonic. Google it. Interesting stuff.
Back to the book . . . Each chapter features a different Jewish topic, accompanied by the appropriate album covers. There are chapters devoted to cantorial soloists, black-Jewish themed LPs, the Jewish Latin craze (how did I not know that Herb Albert is Jewish?), Jewish comedians, Israel, Jewish holidays, even the Holocaust. Within each chapter is a Spotlight On and/or a feature called What It Sounds Like, written by a special guest, many with names that will be familiar to you. It’s a treasure trove of Jewish musical trivia, with the album covers sparkling like jewels on the slick pages.
Even if you’re like me and haven’t heard of most of the people mentioned or their albums, the beauty of this book cannot be denied. If you have little interest in the words, at least check out the album covers themselves. The artwork will make you laugh, cry, cringe, or maybe even exclaim, “Hey! My parents have that album!” (I recognized a few.)
While some may find this topic to be a bit obscure, it’s that very obscurity that makes this book worth owning. It will be a collector’s item one day. Possibly featured in a book about obscure Jewish books about music . . .