Admittedly we're a little biased, but this really is a great book
It's always a bit awkward, as a journalist, when you're asked to write about something someone you know has created. Whether it's a book, film, videogame, club night or whatever, there are two worries: 1. you'll be accused of nepotism and 2. what if it's rubbish?
In the interests of full disclosure re: point 1 above, then, it should be pointed out from the start that one of this book's two authors is Matt Anniss - a former editor of iDJ and still a very valued contributor. But re: point 2 I needn't have worried, because this 'beginner's guide to vinyl' really is excellent.
Not being a car driver, I've never had a need to refer to a 'real' Haynes manual, and not being a Star Wars or Star Trek obsessive I've never dipped into their more recent, more light-hearted offerings either. So how this compares to other books in their canon I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that within its pages, Matt and co-author Patrick Fuller (formerly of What Hi-Fi?) have done a great job of covering just about everything to do with the black wax we all hold so dear to our hearts.
There are sections on the history of the format and how turntables work, on choosing the right amp and speakers to go with your turntable; on record shops, cover art and picture discs; on record collecting and crate digging; on DJ technique, recording your mixes, making re-edits and promoting your own club night; on where to find rare records both on- and off-line and much, much more. Basically, think of anything to do with records - making them, buying them, playing them - and it's covered here.
Admittedly, if you're already a lifelong vinyl lover and music obsessive, a lot of the information contained herein will be familiar - and some of the potted histories (eg of DJ culture, or of the at-times fraught relationship between the recording and radio industries) can be a bit lickety-split in places. But I couldn't tell you of another book that covers so much ground all in one place, making this an ideal one-stop reference book, and even the most nerdy turntable enthusiast is likely to find a few little factoids they weren't aware of. Did you know the first vinyl, as opposed to shellac, records were pressed by the US government to send to troops posted overseas? I didn't...
With the 'vinyl revival' in full swing, this book is likely to find its way into quite a lot of record lovers' Christmas stockings this year - suffice to say, they're very unlikely to be disappointed. Yes, one of 'our lot' wrote it - but it really is very good indeed.
Words: Russell Deeks
The Haynes Vinyl Manual is out now, priced £22.99