Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record

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  • Richard Osborne, Middlesex University, UK
  • Series: Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series
  • Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record is the first in-depth study of the vinyl record. Richard Osborne traces the evolution of the recording format from its roots in the first sound recording experiments to its survival in the world of digital technologies. This book addresses the record's relationship with music: the analogue record was shaped by, and helped to shape, the music of the twentieth century. It also looks at the cult of vinyl records. Why are users so passionate about this format? Why has it become the subject of artworks and advertisements? Why are vinyl records still being produced?

    This book explores its subject using a distinctive approach: the author takes the vinyl record apart and historicizes its construction. Each chapter explores a different element: the groove, the disc shape, the label, vinyl itself, the album, the single, the b-side and the 12" single, and the sleeve. By anatomizing vinyl in this manner, the author shines new light on its impact and appeal.
  • Contents: Introduction; The groove, The disc; The label; Vinyl; The LP; The 45; The B-side and the 12” single; The sleeve; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: Richard Osborne is the programme leader for the popular music degrees at Middlesex University. He has published work on the themes of music technology, minstrelsy, alarms, Indian film and The Fall. His work for the project Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire can be found at
  • Reviews: A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2013

    Special Mention, 2013 IASPM Book Prize.
    '...this book is actually one of the best and most engaging books on phonography and/or recording formats in recent years.' IASPM Book Prize Jury

    Finalist, 2013 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research, Best Historical Research on General Recording Topics.

    A Yankee Book Peddler UK Core Title for 2012
    Classified as 'Research Essential' by Baker & Taylor YBP Library Services

    'Hats off to the excellent Richard Osborne for producing a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable romp through the musical history of polyvinyl chloride… The author has produced a valuable collection of sound bites and snapshots of what the 20th century sounded like.'
    Times Higher Education

    '… a well-written and thoroughly engaging précis of vinyl’s journey from its origins to its constantly shifting presence throughout the 20th Century.'
    Record Collector

    '… Richard Osborne has just released the most perfect book: a history of vinyl that does not neglect aesthetic or interpretative considerations, but focuses also on hard facts, and pays attention to technology, and economics… Osborne’s book proves a fascinating and essential read, and an elegant one at that.'

    'Richard Osborne has produced a concise, readable, and well-researched historical study of the vinyl record. The text is not overloaded with scholarly apparatus, although Osborne supports his argument with quotations from primary sources… Vinyl would be an excellent addition to large public libraries as well as academic institutions that teach popular music and the history of recorded music.'
    CAML (Canadian Association of Music Libraries) Review

    '… a thoughtful discussion of the relationship between human senses and the physical aspect of records that makes them enduring objects of cultural interest… a fine introduction to both the history of recorded sound and the cultural impact of the physical object that is a vinyl record.'
    Rock Music Studies

    ‘Osborne’s book is a work of impressive scholarship. It’s painstaking in its attention to detail, extremely erudite, interesting, and well written. If you have the slightest interest in the history of the recording industry - its technologies, marketing strategies, and cultural significance - then do read this book. If you’re not a specialist in this area, it may be necessary to read it a section at a time - the chapter on B sides one day, perhaps, the chapter on record sleeves the next - simply to avoid being overwhelmed by Richard Osborne’s command of technical and historical detail. If you are a specialist - a student, for example, studying the record business or with a particular interest in the history of music as leisure - I’d say it was an absolute must’.

    ‘I wanted to notice this book because I think anyone interested in the history of recorded sound will really enjoy it. It takes an imaginative approach to its subject and it is both highly informative and readable - and, published by Ashgate, it now comes as an affordable paperback’.
    Folk Music Journal

    ‘This study of vinyl as both a recording format and a material artefact is informative, entertaining and thought provoking, showing the complexities which lie behind what are often taken for granted in musical practices and products.’
    Popular Music

    '… this book delivers an important history of vinyl …'
    Fontes Artis Musicae