LOUIS B ARFE WAS born in 1973, the year in which The Sweet, Mud, and Peters and Lee had their finest hours. It doesn't seem right that he should have such a grip on, and enthusiasm for, the entire history of the record industry when his formative years must have been dominated by Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, glamorous and tuneful though those New Romantics were. We who had the good fortune to be around when Elvis hadn't yet been called up, when Buddy Holly was alive and when the Beatles and Stones first oiled their chops, could have told young Louis that the music business was already on its uppers in the mid Eighties and that the good times had long since left the building.
Except perhaps they hadn't. This remarkable book makes two things abundantly clear about the wild and wacky world of records. First, every other decade or so, some vile new technological threat emerges from under a stone to threaten the very existence of the record business. Second, all small record companies