I know I’m an appraiser. I took my classes, did well on my exams, and for all intents and purposes – I an appraise and assign value to anything from a rare Victorian “Mourning Pin” made out of human hair (yes, it’s really a thing) to a unique promo pressing of just about any song. Even so, I wholeheartedly admit I’m not really a collector. I can’t stand having so many things.
My husband, on the other hand, loves vinyl records. For that matter, *I* love vinyl records too…but there’s a difference between “Hey, let’s play my new vinyl copy of Imploding the Mirage that was just delivered” and “I have 5,000 records catalogued and lovingly stored in my climate-controlled garage.” I’m the former. He’s the latter.
I suppose by some odd turn of events, I somehow benefit from his semi-obsession. I like records and music, and we’ve got quite a bit of that. I say “semi” because he tends to float in and out of “collector” mode. At one time, he bought records by the trunk-load. He’s slowed down to only occasionally dropping into our local record shop, and then spending ridiculous sums of money to buy incredibly rare pressings of say – some Morrissey record – I couldn’t think twice about. Maybe I was better off advocating for “Garage Sale Shopping” after all. I just hate having a bunch of stuff sitting around to collect dust, and trust me – we’ve got enough of that going on here after three children, not to mention a husband that thinks we need to save every last cord or cable from anything we’ve ever owned.
The fact of the matter is, I just don’t collect many things, unless Duran Duran concert tickets count…or jewelry….but that is another story for a completely different kind of blog. I do love books though, and I spend a decent sum of money each year buying as many books as I can possibly read. Yes, I love a great work of fiction, but I also spend time trying to balance the escapism with books about rock music, bands I love, and albums that have somehow become entwined with my soul.
The brand-new book, Rio by Annie Zaleski checks all of those boxes and then some. My copy arrived a day later than planned last week. (yes, I really did notice when it didn’t show up on release day. I’d been waiting for it to arrive for months!) I have heard of the 33 1/3 series by Bloomsbury, but admittedly hadn’t read any of the books from cover to cover. Rio though, is on a completely different plane of existence for me, and I couldn’t wait to absorb every last word.
I had some concerns going in with this one. The first was simply that the size and format of the book is wicked small. The book stands as tall as my iPhone 7 plus, and is only about a half-inch thick. At this point in my life, where my progressive lenses are *always* on my face and yet I still suffer from late-afternoon eye strain – I knew that reading this book was going to be a trial. This isn’t Annie’s fault, as she is bound to whatever the publisher does for their series, but I’d like to take Bloomsbury out back and slap them around a bit all the same.
The second concern was slightly more dodgy. Like many of you, I’ve read a lot of books and articles on Duran Duran at this point in my life. Would there really be enough substance in this one? What was left to say to someone like me? I’m not just the type of fan who knows every hair color John Taylor has sported over the course of DD’s career. I’m also that person who wants to know what made David Kershenbaum the right choice for remixing Rio so that it might sell better in America. When I heard about this book, I looked into the author. I wanted to know her background. Was she really going to do Rio the type of justice *I* might?
The answer is, of course, “Yes”. We are incredibly lucky that Annie is not only an excellent writer (far better than I am, by any means), but is also very much a fan.
Here’s the thing: I love that the book isn’t just a big huge gushy “I love you” to the band. It is an in-depth, seriously written study of Rio, an album that I’m betting not only changed the course of my life, but anyone else reading this very blog. Zaleski did her homework, rest assured. She knows the history of the band prior to Rio, and even knows where they were headed afterward. It isn’t just that, though. Anyone can research and write facts. There is a certain respect and reverence for their work that is very clear, without the fangirl-y type of crushing that comes from writing a fan blog for ten years, for example. (I’m nothing if not self-deprecating)
That brings up another thing – Annie is female. She is a female fan, who DARED propose a book that wasn’t about sweaty and sordid backstage encounters, but instead a smart, intelligently written and researched book about an album. Something that, according to the publishing experiences Amanda and I have had thus far, only men are capable of handling. Never mind that she’d been pitching this idea since 2007, the fact is, she got it done, smashing through that ridiculous ceiling. Annie is now my idol.
Thank you for taking such care with Rio, for not writing yet another fluff piece on fashion choices and models. I appreciate a book that gets into the music, the marketing, the choices made, and lessons learned. This book does all of that, and more.
Believe it or not, I’m still reading the book. At 144 pages in length – something I would typically fly through in an hour or so – I am finding that this isn’t a book to skim through. I’m savoring every last syllable, all the while learning more about this album that has sat at the heart of my fandom for thirty-some years (it turned 39 yesterday, but the yacht, so to speak, didn’t actually sit in the dock for any length of time here in America until it’s reissue in 1983).
So while it remains true, I’m no collector – I would happily fill my bookshelves with books like Rio, and I hope many people rush to buy their own copy. (Not a sponsored link. We do not receive a percentage from sales).