Young People’s Records and Children’s Record Guild were the first commercially significant record clubs in the world. By applying proven book club methods to the field of phonograph records, these two related companies attracted some hundred thousand subscribers at their peak and serviced perhaps a million members in their existence. Revolutionizing Children’s Records: The Young People’s Records and Children’s Record Guild Series, 1946-1977 tells the history of YPR/CRG, explaining how these two labels intersected important developments in the histories of mass marketing, recording technology, educational philosophy, folk music, contemporary composition, and Cold War politics. David Bonner covers in detail the history of YPR/CRG, tracing its influences back to the beginnings of music education in the 19th Century and incorporating the impact of the American folk music revival on music educators.
The narrative follows the career paths of the company principals, such as its progressive founder Horace Grenell; the musicians who recorded for him, like American folk music revival pioneer Tom Glazer; and the record industry offshoots they created in the process. Bonner considers advances the club made in recording technology as the first record label devoted exclusively to "unbreakable" vinyl discs and provides a comprehensive summary of record club marketing, including the application of "music appreciation" to phonograph records. He also charts the commercial, critical, and political response to these endeavors, including an historical footnote to the "Red Scare" unavailable in existing Cold War literature. A complete and detailed discography listing every YPR and CRG recording, including all known writers and performers, concludes this excellent reference for scholars, nostalgists, and phonographic fanatics.