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Always in Trouble
An Oral History of ESP-Disk’, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America
Jason Weiss


2012 • 304 pp. 42 illus. 6 x 9"

$25.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7159-5
$75.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7158-8

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7160-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“Weiss wonderfully describes the role of ESP in the birth of the free jazz movement and points to the necessity of record label owners (such as Stollman) who translate their passion for music into new musical forms. An absorbing account that will interest any music fan.”—Dave Szatmary, Library Journal

You never heard such sounds in your life

In 1964, Bernard Stollman launched the independent record label ESP-Disk’ in New York City to document the free jazz movement there. A bare-bones enterprise, ESP was in the right place at the right time, producing albums by artists like Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and Sun Ra, as well as folk-rock bands like the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. But the label quickly ran into difficulties and, due to the politically subversive nature of some productions and sloppy business practices, it folded in 1974. Always in Trouble tells the story of ESP-Disk’ through a multitude of voices—first Stollman’s, as he recounts the improbable life of the label, and then the voices of many of the artists involved.

To view a complete discography of ESP-Disk’s records, visit this webpage:

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements:

“Bernard Stollman captured the 60s zeitgeist before it’d even hit. His now-legendary label, ESP-Disk’, provided the means for a wealth of free jazz firewalkers (Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Frank Wright, Giuseppi Logan) and polemical folk provocateurs (The Fugs and The Holy Modal Rounders) to get their far-out sounds to a wider audience. But this tale has a less savoury side, borne out in this book’s series of interviews with Stollman…and some of those artists with a connection to the imprint.”Spencer Grady, Record Collector

“It’s an important book, not just in documenting a unique cultural moment and a unique achievement, but in exploring the contradictions inherent in any creative enterprise, and whether these forces can ever be reconciled.”—Steve Danziger, Open Letters Monthly

“The mother lode for devotees of the jazz avant-garde and outré music in general, Jason Weiss’ Always in Trouble is a collection of incisive Q&As with the principals and players behind the game-changing company founded by Bernard Stollman in 1964. …(the) best material comes from Stollman himself… Like the music he purveyed, Stollman’s stories are full of strangeness as well as lyricism.”—Evan Haga, JazzTimes

“ESP’s music was startling, and it was unusual to have one company bring out so many styles of music at once under the same logo. This book takes a biographical approach to the label, and presents one of the best accounts I’ve seen of a chaotic, bizarre, and thrilling time.”—John Szwed, author of Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World

Always in Trouble brims with lively, revealing stories and anecdotes. A multi-sided look at the legendary ESP record label, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the cultural explosions of the 1960s.”——Nathaniel Mackey, author of Bass Cathedral

“By allowing Bernard Stollman and the artists he embraced to speak, multiple perspectives illuminate human stories that are by turns incisive, tragic, hilarious, petty, visionary, idealistic, paranoid, and never pedestrian.”—Nels Cline, guitarist for Wilco, The Nels Cline Singers, and others


“Best Books of 2012” by the New York City Jazz Record (2012) Commendation

JASON WEISS is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. His books include Steve Lacy: Conversations and Back in No Time: The Brion Gysin Reader. Weiss lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Click here for author's website.

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 10:29:41 -0500