BEYOND VINYL: The Rock & Roll Saga Continues by Donald Riggio
Beyond Vinyl picks up where Riggio’s previous book, Seven Inch Vinyl, leaves off. The book opens in October of 1969. Thirty-four year old Joseph Rabin, whose given surname was Rabinowitz, has been on quite a journey, but his life has been somewhat of a train wreck for the past five years.
The co-founder of the Chanticleer Records, one of the most successful new labels of the 50s and early 60s, was finally experiencing a rebirth of his recording artists in a sold-out revival show. Joseph and his partner, Leo Klein established their label at the dawn of rock & roll, only to see the American music scene taken over by the British invasion. Joseph’s idea to stage and promote shows featuring his artists was brilliant, and fans flocked to the theater. Previous hit records were now available on the new innovation—CDs. He was back on top again. Among those attending that first sold-out show, “An Evening of Solid Gold,” in mid-town Manhattan was his ex-wife Janet, who had left him for a British rock musician years before. Now divorced, she had returned to the United State with her five-year-old daughter, Danielle.
Riggio takes the reader from the rekindled romance through ongoing events in their lives. He brings back the DuKanes, the group that put Chanicleer on the map in Seven Inch Vinyl, and some members of the band play a significant part in this sequel. As Joseph becomes a promoter of rock & roll shows, it literally becomes a movement to resurrect golden oldies and takes the audience back to the glory that was theirs during the heyday of Joseph’s record label. Always a risk-taker, once again Joseph made a profitable decision.
Some of the characters bring surprises with them, but you will have to read the book to find out what they are. Otherwise it would be a spoiler.
Much of the magic of Beyond Vinyl is the way Riggio weaves fact through the fiction with historical milestones. Janet, now a highly sought after photographer has an identity of her own in this book as does her daughter Danielle. We follow the family through several years with many twists along the way. It is not all smooth sailing, and the moments of tension keep you turning the pages.
Often when authors include historical passages to set the time periods, they become wordy and boring. Not in this case. It is clear that Riggio did a tremendous amount of research to “get it right.” Then he takes what could be dry facts and figures and seamlessly weaves them into the lives of Joseph, Janet and Danielle and the people surrounding them.
I grew up in this era, and although I lived through it, I learned many things from Beyond Vinyl while enjoying the story and wondering how the Rabinowitz family will wind up. Rock & roll was a powerful influence during this time in our history. It went from being called “the Devil’s music” in the early 50s to a movement that changed music forever. Riggio captured the sense of those years, including the freewheeling lifestyles of the 60s and 70s, reactions to the Vietnam War, and the ever-changing face of music.
It is a good and satisfying read that I can highly recommend. My software doesn't allow for 4 1/2 Stars, but that is my rating.
MORGAN ST. JAMES is the author of ten books in publication and also writes Writers’ Tricks of the Trade columns in the Las Vegas and Los Angeles editions of examiner.com. Her latest book Who’s Got the Money? is a funny crime caper centered around a very clever embezzlement in the Federal prison system. Watch for the release later this year of her upcoming true crime book, La Bella Mafia, Bella Capo’s shocking true story, co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin and Bella Capo.