(Re-)valuing rock music
Curatorship in the production of garage rock reissue compilation albums
Keywords:sound recordings, value, curation, garage rock music
This article concerns the production of reissue compilation albums, focusing on garage rock compilations as a case study into questions of value and curation in popular music. The reissue compilation is a distinct form of media that has been largely overlooked in popular music scholarship, despite the fact that it has long been a mainstay of rock music fandom. The notion of curation presents a useful lens through which to understand the key role these albums play in documenting and recovering popular music history. I argue that curation here involves more than simply selecting tracks, designing album covers and writing liner notes; rather, it is a form of archival work that entails tracking down ‘forgotten’ bands and their recordings, narrativizing popular music history, navigating copyright, and compiling this material in album form. Drawing on recent theories of value in the anthropological and ethnomusicological literature, I propose an approach to curation that emphasizes the work of archiving, documenting and recovering 1960s rock and roll as a form of fan engagement that is generative of new forms of value.
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