Monday, July 25, 2011

Another Rave Review for Seven-Inch Vinyl (the 4th this month). This time from noted author, educator and reviewer, Fran Lewis:

Seven-Inch Vinyl

Author Donald Riggio

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Living in the South Bronx and growing up near a record store that carried the top 100 hits is something kids today will never experience. CD’s, DVD’s and IPod’s are the way to go in 2011 but not so long ago we had stereos, our own 45’s and you were able to pick out the ones you wanted and bring them right to your own special jukebox or turntable. Playing these records, inviting your friends over for a party to dance and have some great fun brought the songs and the artists right into your own home. The greatest things was that good old 45 record never wore out, was right there where you wanted it to be and you never had to play all of the songs on a tape or CD to get to listen and dance to the ones you wanted. Nothing better than taking out those old discs and listening to the artists, looking at the different labels, doo wop sounds, Motown, watching Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and hearing the voices of DJ’s like Cousin Bruce and Alan Freed over the air on the radio to get the fun started.

Seven-Inch Vinyl might be fiction but the events in this book definitely bring back a time when the music was truly great, the artists could really sing and growing up was really fun.

Joseph Rabinowitz and Danny Cavelli were great friends. Both wound up joining the army for different reasons. Joseph loved music and learning the history of many genres, and Danny fixing cars. Author Donald Riggio describes their army tour, their friendship and their passions.

Danny and Joseph both had their own visions of what they wanted for their futures. But, fate steps in and Danny and Joseph are both in a fatal car crash leaving two dead including Danny as the third and Joseph critically injured. As Joseph rebuilds his life he becomes close to Danny’s sister Janet and here is where things begin to change. As he becomes stronger we learn more about his determination to become part of the music industry and start a life with Janet. We also meet Teddy Boyette a young man who finds his way into the music business as one door is slammed in his face another opens. Meeting or trying to get an audition with Artie Franklin proved to be the wrong move or way to go but an accidental encounter at diner with Cap Steward would be the chance of a lifetime. Cap offers him a job and chance to sing and play his guitar that he cannot turn down and one waitress named Dee a different opportunity.

As Joseph and Janet get to know each other, Teddy begins his life on the road and his music career. Janet and Joseph made a bold move and Sol and Myra Rabinowitz will now decide how they feel about their relationship. Janet hoping to win them over and Joseph relentless in his hopes for their future.

Joseph Rabinowitz was enterprising, smart and knew exactly what he wanted when he walked into Harmony Time Music Store. Playing the piano I have to admit that Harmony was where my teacher bought my music. This book brings back so many great memories. As Joseph meets Leo Klein the owner they form a strong bond, he offers him a job and his entire business soars as they now carry the top 40 hits, 45’s, 78’s, record equipment and a brand new recording studio. As Joseph helps Leo embark on their latest venture, Teddy Boyette comes to mind when he calls his friend Chanty to ask if he would like to record a record in his studio. Meeting Teddy, Chanty’s visit and his agent would forever change their lives. Helping many others get started was Joseph’s goal and the end result is still to come.

As their recording studio was built, contracts drawn up and signed and their first record made Billboard Magazine lists Teddy right up there with Fats Domino and Pat Boone. Reading about the how a 45-vinyl record was made, the history behind it and the process really is quite astounding and compelling. The songs that were sung, You Belong to Me and many others of that time period really brought it all back and made this book come alive for those of us that grew up during the 60’s and loved the music of the decade before. But, with everything and in every time period the mob seems to have their hand in things and two friends form a business alliance supposedly selling magazine subscriptions and then become more involved in the music business. How will this affect Joseph and Leo still remains to be seen? How will Janet, his wife feel when he learns he took her poems and turned them into songs? As Teddy becomes more popular and their business booms they move to Manhattan. Added in we learn about Rosa Parks, John Kennedy and the Holocaust, which Joseph’s parents lived through, and will never forget.

But, things heat up and do not always go the way you want and successes become too paramount and then the downslide begins. The mob gets into the business and forms Alexis Records. Just as Teddy’s career takes off and he becomes a household word, teens all over are listening to him and he becomes number one on the charts, fate once again sets in, his plane goes down and his life and career ended. More than upset, Joseph, now Joe Rabin, Leo has to find a new singer, deal with the tragedy and create a newer sound with another singer. Four young men who are friends decide to form a group called the Du-Kanes. Practicing in one of the group’s apartments upsets someone and the police ask them to stop practicing so late. But, one officer goes to bat for them, finds them a place to practice and eventually things turn around as Joseph and Leo now have a new group that soars and some that still have not made it. From Elvis Presley, to Buddy Holly, to Pat Boone, Fats Domino and many others the author reminds the reader of the greats from that time period.

But, things will change as the times do and the mob sinks its teeth into the business trying to control the singers, their monetary gains, but the record industry too. Hoping to make the DJ’s play their songs, their music and their artists would dramatically change the complexion of the industry. But, when the author writes how these four young men celebrated with an egg cream and malteds it really made me smile and reminded me of on once a month treat of a vanilla malted or chocolate egg cream made just right in the candy store that was directly under our apartment building on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.

Things began to change in the lives of Joseph and Janet as their marriage began to backslide and they drifted apart. He buried himself in his work and she went to England to see the world and the castles. Then the British invasion came along with the Vietnam War, Kennedy’s assassination, the downslide of his business. Losing Janet, several contracts and the Beatles made things difficult not only between Joseph and Leo but others as well. Joseph needed a group that would pull in money, sell records and recoup his loses. Then once again tragedy strikes in an unexpected way when learns of the death of a dear friend and the reason behind it. So many things happened during this time period. Castro comes into power, McCarthy, Kennedy, the Russians and Sputnik and so much more. This was a time period filled with so many changes in the world not only in politic, space but in music too. I remember watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and seeing some of the greatest performers in person on his show when my dad’s friend got us tickets on a Sunday night. This book is filled with so much history, nostalgia and reminders that things really don’t change only the people do. Music is so different today and the groups varied and the sounds definitely not Motown.

The characters might be fiction but some of the events are real. From Chubby Checker and the twist, to Bobby Rydell, Bobby Darin and Fabian the music of this time period is timeless and this book brings it all back. But, when the author talks about the Bronx, the many different places he lived and Morris Park and Pelham Parkway, I smile. Because, it is all still here and still beautiful just the people are different.

As careers ended and his company was bought out, his life took a different turn and what happens in the world will change not only the complexion of the music industry, government, life for many and Joseph too. How does he revive his business and what brilliant idea does he have? You need to take this outstanding trip back in time when the Du-Kanes reigned, when wearing bobby sox was a definite fashion statement, when Dion and the Belmonts were hot, and the music of the 50’s soared and the emergence of Rock ‘n Roll took over the and performers like Elvis, Dion, Hank Williams, and Jerry Lee Lewis were at the top of the charts. From World War II, to Korea, Vietnam, racial tensions and the first man on the moon, author Donald Riggio brings it all back with a flair that is unique, filled with facts, even a murder, some deceit, treachery and much more before it all comes together in a surprise ending that will bring tears to your eyes and the audience on its feet.

There is nothing like listening to the old 45’s and I still have some of mine and wish I could convert them to a CD to listen to the songs that meant something, had meanings and made everyone get up dance my favorite Lindy Hop with my favorite partner my late sister, Marcia. This is one outstanding novel that everyone should read whether you lived through the era or not the music then will always be the music now to me.

So, Donald, thanks for the memories, the great story, Joseph Rabinowitz, Leo Klein, the Du-Kanes, Chanty and of course Teddy.

This book gets FIVE SEVEN INCH VINYL’s

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Steller Review and some Amazon Readers comments on Seven-Inch Vinyl:

The following review appears in July 2011 issue of Pop Culture Classics Magazine:

This highly entertaining novel takes readers from the raw roots of rockabilly through doo-wop, girl groups, into psychedelic sounds and beyond. A wide spectrum of colorful characters is introduced. But the main protagonist is Joseph Rabinowitz. Renamed Joe Rabin, he carves out a career as a songwriter, producer and record exec. Real-life rock figures are sprinkled throughout. And the fictitious characters are composites of many of the greats, such as Phil Spector, Goffin and King, Mann and Weill, Elvis, Colonel Tom, The Blossoms, The Ronettes, etc. We see rock ‘n’ roll rise from ingenuous, mom-and-pop beginnings through payola and mob connections, finally surging towards big business. Riggio provides just the right amount of social and political landmarks, putting the story in context. This is a very satisfying, entertaining work.

I offer my wholehearted thanks to the editors of Pop Culture Classics for their kind words.

The following are readers comments posted on the page:

K. M. says:

July 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm
Donald Riggio has hit it out of the park writing about how rock and roll came to be. His novel, SEVEN INCH VINYL, keeps you guessing about who he’s really portraying. The characters he writes about have such a realness about them because he used a conglomeration of several real-life industry people. His historical intertwining of world events places you squarely in his book for anyone who was alive when JFK was shot or when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A fun, quick read which leaves you wanting for more…. can’t wait till the sequal comes out!

Brigitte in NJ -
This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
The author tells a realistic story of rock 'n' roll's early days, always including as a backdrop the current events of the time and how they affected the story's characters. The story brought me back to my teen years, as I recalled how it was to walk the halls of my high school while holding my transistor radio up to my ear so as not to miss any of my favorite singers' newest songs. Well done, Donald!

5.0 out of 5 stars Seven - Inch Vinyl, June 3, 2011
By G.C.
This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
Just For The Record :

Seven Inch Vinyl - written by by Don Riggio

Donald's novel , Seven Inch Vinyl is a rollercoaster ride,blast back to the past, A must have for fans young and old of " Recorded Sound" as told on the ' Printed Page "

Donald's book takes us to the birth of Rock and Roll and.........Beyond

A brilliant and thoughtful book :
that captured the very essence of growing up " Way back then !!

5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!, May 28, 2011

This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
I have read this book, twice now and am ready to leave my feedback. Not that I am anyone special, nor do I hold any degrees. I am just your average laid back person with her feet planted firmly in the ground. I have read so many books, by so many top DJs', artists and fans of our music. That said, this book, "Seven-Inch Vinyl" takes you on a different journey. One that no one else dares to take you on. One that many do not want you to know about. I love the honesty of this writer. The places he take you to is so unfamiliar, yet familiar. I applaud the honesty of his words and how he does not pull any punches. He allows them to land where they belong and not make any excuses. Bravo for what this book tells about the realities of the music industry. I highly endorse this book and recommend it to be on everyones bookshelf, thin from reading it over and over. Well done, my friend, well done, indeed!
This review is from Lucill whom the book was purchased for by my husband. Donald Riggio did one hell of a job putting you right there in the thick of things. Great job, Don!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Back 45 rpm Records, April 28, 2011
By I.B.

This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
In his new book "Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel", Donald Riggio pays
great tribute to the music of the 1950's and early 1960's when millions of
young teens spent all their allowance on records. They would play these records
day and night until the records got all scratched and worn out. I know because
I was one of those young teens.

Mr. Riggio comes from The Bronx, home of great doo-wop groups such as
Dion & The Belmonts,Johnny & Joe, The Demensions, and The Chantels. He is the
Facebook D.J. in every way as he plays his videos on his facebook Wall, and gives
us biographies of the song & singer.

His book cover says it all. It was all about the 45 rpm. This book cover is
so very colorful and truly catches the eye of the reader. It brings back the
greatest memories of when music was really music, not noise, no foul words, no
bad messages......the songs of yesterday were filled with words of LOVE.

Kudos to Mr. Riggio. We share the same publisher, so I say welcome to the family.
I also vote Mr. Riggio as the #1 man you would want to do a slow dance with!!!

My name is Irene Brodsky, part-time teacher of writing skills at Brooklyn College
City University of New York, and full time author:
"Poetry Unplugged"
"Adventures of Silly Kitty, Princess Jasmine and First Puppy"
"Queen Esther's New Coloring Book"

5.0 out of 5 stars Memories, April 5, 2011
Dennis N. Griffin "Denny Griffin, author" (Las Vegas, Nevada) -
This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
Thanks Mr. Riggio for writing this book! I was a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s and the story certainly brought back memories of those days. This is a must read for folks my age and a should read for everyone else.

5.0 out of 5 stars No bookmark needed, March 23, 2011
D. O. (New Jersey) -

This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
This is such a great read and informative book by Donald Riggio, you won't need a bookmark. Probably won't stop reading 'til the end.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock 'n' Roll Forever!, March 4, 2011
M. Elliott

This review is from: Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (Paperback)
An excellent read!! A chance to revisit the 50's and the 60's if you were there then, and if you were not, then it will give you a peek at what it was like then. Donald Riggio has written a fine novel about the music of that era and included historical events for that time as well. The characters are so believable for that time that you will no doubt identify with some if you were around then. I recommend this book to everyone of all ages.

I wish to thank all of you who commented on my work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blitz Magazine: The Rock and Roll Magazine For Thinking People:


SEVEN-INCH VINYL - Donald Riggio
(Outskirts Press)

An ongoing factor in the collective mission statements of nearly all who had been involved in the growth of the record collector industry that transpired concurrently with the overall resurgence in rock and roll brought about during the onset of the so-called New Wave/Punk movement in the mid-1970s has been the pressing need to repair the considerable amount of damage that was done by the revisionist history of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The prevailing train of thought during that most counter-productive of eras was a mandate generated by the movement’s self-appointed “visionaries” to live in the here and now. This is of course a substantial misappropriation of the Rokes’ and Grass Roots’ unintentional clarion call of Let’s Live For Today. Such posturing was promoted by emphasizing such periphery as chronology and peer pressure, thereby placing the music into (at best) a secondary status. The resultant lockstep, flavor of the month perspective under the guise of “do your own thing” became the ultimate expression of hypocrisy.

Sadly, such developments transpired when the conventional mass media was the primary means of communication. As such, it has taken a legion of musicologists, collectors, musicians and academicians more than four decades to undo the damage brought about during that era. However, the rise of the internet and such vehicles of communication as Facebook and YouTube in recent years has leveled the playing field and has given the rescue movement a voice that it was firmly denied when the damage was being done.

Thankfully, there are those who number themselves among those academicians, collectors and musicologists who have maintained the foresight to persevere through those relatively recent channels of communication. In doing so, they have concurrently endeavored to further the cause through the more conventional media outlets that had previously been denied them.

One such individual is the Las Vegas, Nevada-based author, Donald Riggio. His debut novel, Seven-Inch Vinyl has more than bridged the gap between reality and revisionist history through the unlikely juxtaposition of fact and fiction.

Seven-Inch Vinyl is largely the saga of the fictional, New York-based record label entrepreneur, Joseph Rabinowitz and a cast of characters that include an ill-fated army colleague (Danny Cavelli), his sister and Rabinowitz’s future wife (Janet Cavelli), a veteran blues musician (McKinley “Chanticleer” Williams), a flaming star (Teddy Boyette), an aspiring vocal group (the Du-Kanes) and an enterprising retailer (Leo Klein).

The (appropriately enough) forty-five chapters of Seven-Inch Vinyl span the crucial years 1953 through 1969. Therein, Rabinowitz is discharged from military service. Upon his return from overseas duty, he is musically inspired by Williams and the developments in popular music.

From there, Rabinowitz meets and marries Janet Cavelli, forms a business partnership with Klein and launches a record label inspired by Williams’ nickname. Rabinowitz and Klein ultimately oversee the careers of Boyette, the Du-Kanes and others and watches that for which he and Klein worked so hard subsequently withstand the onslaught of the negative cultural changes brought about by the aforementioned revisionist historians.

“The character of Joseph Rabinowitz matures through the narrative from being an angry young man who finds new direction for his life through R&B and rock and roll music”, said Riggio.

“He becomes the owner of an independent record label, songwriter and producer, until his success is threatened by the pressures celebrity brings and the uncontrollable events in the music business; i.e. the British Invasion.”

If Riggio’s cast of characters seem to tread the fine line that often separates fact from fiction, it is because each seems to be based on individuals and corporations that were integral to the development of rock and roll. To wit, Joseph Rabinowitz is as much equal parts Onyx Records’ Jerry Winston and the Celeste label’s David Levitt as Leo Klein is the sum total of the most familiar attributes of Rama, Gone, End and Red Bird cofounder, George Goldner and Commodore Music Shop CEO, Milt Gabler.

Likewise, McKinley Williams is as much an amalgamation of Hank Williams mentor, Rufus “Teetot” Payne and folk rock pioneer, Huddie William “Leadbelly” Ledbetter as the Du-Kanes are the personification of any of the pioneering groups who recorded for the aforementioned labels. Even so, Riggio prefers to err on the side of caution with regards to any such comparisons.

“The fictional characters and performers are indeed composites of real life people” said Riggio.

“However, none of my fictional characters’ actions should be attributed to any specific real performer or group, no matter how similar they seem.”

To Riggio’s considerable credit, he has successfully interwoven their saga amongst various cultural landmarks, including the Korean War, the rise of rock and roll radio, the space race, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War and ultimately the rise of the so-called counter culture hypocrisy that fueled the aforementioned revisionist history.

Riggio’s ability to sublimely walk that fine line is best illustrated in the thirty-eighth chapter, in which the author perfectly exacerbated the prevailing lack of reason that typified those factions. He did so by highlighting one of their most familiar missteps (invoking as scapegoats the Monkees, who, as of this writing, are at the midpoint of an immensely successful international tour, celebrating their forty-fifth anniversary as a band) as justification for their questionable logic (indiscriminate use of narcotics and cavalier and/or extra-marital intercourse with only perfunctory regard to long term consequences). It was, to borrow from the words of Charles Dickens, the worst of times, making a project such as Riggio’s at once both a necessity and a blessing.

So are the circumstances that befell Joseph Rabinowitz an inevitable byproduct of such societal developments? Or would he be more likely to call upon the ongoing inspiration of his original mission statement to rise above such circumstances, as he did in Richard Nader-like fashion in the final chapters?

“(Joseph Rabinowitz’s) re-birth as, as you put it as a ‘Nader-esque’ entrepreneur correctly signifies his and the Du-Kanes revival in the business”, said Riggio.

“Seven-Inch Vinyl is an overall tale of rebirth, reunion and revival.”

To that effect, Riggio’s work has to date resonated well with those who have labored in the trenches from the onset and who deservedly continue to reap the benefits of their endeavors. He has earned hearty accolades and endorsements from such musical giants as the Flamingos’ Terry Johnson, Sha Na Na’s Jon Bauman, Jay and the Americans’ Kenny Vance, the Delicates’ Denise Ferri, the Earls’ Lawrence “Larry Chance” Figueiredo and the beloved and highly respected Starlets cofounder, Julia and Laurie label veteran and one-time Angels lead vocalist, Bernadette Carroll.

“The historical references were initially used as a device to move the multiple story lines ahead, so I wouldn't have a War And Peace-type tome trying to follow them all day by day”, said Riggio.

“The more I used it, the more I began to fall in love with the device and sought to use it often. I think I did pretty good job with it!”

Indeed he has. In the words of Bernadette Carroll, Riggio has, “tapped into the essence of what it was like”. Most assuredly, with Seven-Inch Vinyl, Riggio has expertly balanced fact and fiction to make a definitive statement of musical vindication.

My Thanks to Michael McDowell of Blitz Magazine for this wonderful review. - Donald Riggio - Author

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Fresh new look:

For the first post on the revised site I thought it would be fitting to offer my sincere thanks to Miss Mary Wilson, a founding member of the most successful female vocal group in the history of music, The Supremes. I met Mary back in 2007 when we both testified before the Nevada State Legislature for the passage of The Truth in Music Bill. When I finished the novel I gathered testimonials from several prominent music industry celebrities to grace the back cover. Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, Terry Johnson from the Flamingos, Larry Chance from the Earls, Kenny Vance, Bernadette Carroll formerly of the Angels and Denise Ferri, one of Murray the K's original dancing girls honored me with their paricipation.

But it was Mary who so graciously consented to writing a foreward for the book. She commented: "...I throughly enjoyed this novel about life in the fifties and sixties and an inside look at the music industry."

She then continued her support when she spoke about the book and her career at a meeting of our Henderson Writers Group where she simply mesmerized an overflow crowd.

Mary, I send you my thanks and much love.