An old stack of records sits in front of a shelf full of vinyl in a local record store.

Mourning the death of liner notes and album credits

Last week, I finished up writing the liner notes for an upcoming reissue by an iconic Canadian artists. Even though it took weeks for all the research to be compiled, I believed it was worth it. For those who still love physical music production–i.e. CDs and vinyl–will pour over what’s written in the liner notes so that they know more about what they’re listening to.

But because we’re so deep into the digital era–streaming, specifically–liner notes and album credits are disappearing. This is a very bad thing.

TheMusicNetwork out of Australia has this op-ed that explains the problem.

“The most prolific musician of the pop era played bass on roughly 10,000 records. She played the rhythm on ‘La Bamba’ in 1958; the heartbeat pulse on ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’; the beach ball bass line on ‘Good Vibrations’ (as well as all the bass on the classic 1966 album Pet Sounds, the California Girls single, and many other Beach Boys hits); the strutting bottom-end on ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ – she even played on the theme songs to Mission ImpossibleMASHBrady Bunch, and Batman

“Her name is Carol Kaye, although most of her life’s work has gone uncredited.

“In the ‘60s, that was often the way it went. You were paid a flat fee to play on a record, often with the understanding that fans of these pop acts preferred to think that the mop-topped members on the record awkwardly holding their instruments aloft actually played the things. Carol Kaye was The Monkees’ actual bass player, but as a pre-teen Marge Simpson found out, it shatters childhood illusions when you learn they don’t actually play their own instruments.

“Fast forward to 2020, and we have the same problem.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Mourning the death of liner notes and album credits

  • I miss the liner notes. I still have an old BnL cassette tape that includes lyrics, who was involved and a little line about what each song was about.


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