Long Players by Tom Gatti: A perfect compilation

Book review: Eimear McBride, Ali Smith and Sarah Hall are among the 50 authors selected to write about the albums that shaped them

 Long Players, edited by Tom Gatti,  is an enjoyable mix of memoir and music writing.

Long Players, edited by Tom Gatti, is an enjoyable mix of memoir and music writing.

 Isn’t it ironic that a book billed as a paean to the album form, an antidote to the age of the playlist, is itself a kind of literary compilation, with mini-essays from 50 authors on the albums that changed their lives? But Tom Gatti’s new anthology has all the hallmarks of a great playlist – the big hitters, the slow burners, the randomness of the selection, the relinquishing of control, the ones you never heard before, the ones forgotten by time.

Starting with a superb introduction by Gatti, an English arts journalist and deputy editor of the New Statesman, Long Players is informative and entertaining, charting the evolution of music formats over the past century, while giving glimpses of the cultural predilections and personal lives of the various contributors. Like a book equivalent of Desert Island Discs, the joy is in discovering what celebrated authors choose as their favourite music. The answers are considered, colourful and frequently surprising. 

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