360 Sound, The Columbia Records Story by Sean Wilentz, Chronicle Books, 336 pages, $50.
From a group of investors who founded the American Graphophone Company in 1887 grew Columbia Records, which stands today as the world's oldest recording label.
With access to the company archives, author Sean Wilentz has dug through mountains of material to share the vibrant history of not just a record company but an industry that helped shape our culture.
Starting at the beginning with a look at the early graphophone players and the musicians who appeared on those very first recordings, Wilentz moves through the decades chronicling the Jazz Age, the Depression, the War Years, the Golden Years of Mid-Century, Musical Revolutions, Energy and Excess, Prestige & Pop, then finishing with Turbulence and Opportunity in the Digital Age.
Incredible historical photographs show the musical acts that made Columbia the biggest company of the time.
Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis and many more performers are presented in the collection of artists from the fifties who rose to the top of the charts after being signed by Columbia.
Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin, fill the pages reserved for the stars of the sixties, followed by the changing of the guard in the seventies as new acts like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello staked their claim on the future.
Throughout the years the bands that made it and also the noted exceptions are discussed. While they did well with the jazz greats, Columbia missed out on the success of the harder edged punk scene and likewise the enormously popular disco era.
As Columbia marked its 125 anniversary in 2012 there is no doubting its place in musical history. Wilentz has produced a fascinating look at the ups and downs of a company and those artists that made it a success.