A new book chronicling the history of one of post-war music’s most exploratory and progressive record labels—ESP-Disk’—is slated for a May release. Written by Brooklynite Jason Weiss, Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America, features interviews with founder Bernard Stollman and a wide array of artists whose work was distributed by the NYC label including free-music heavies Marion Brown, Sunny Murray, Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker and others. Controversial not only in what they chose to release (they did issue an album by Charles Manson, after all) but also for rumblings of less-than-transparent business dealings, ESP-Disk’ was responsible for releasing the work of proto-punk-folk-weirdos and Greenwich Village legends The Fugs, Albert Ayler’s most crucial recordings, some of Sun Ra's best sides, and a seemingly endless stream of marginalized performers across the spectrum of not easily categorizable music to create one of the most unique catalogs in modern music. Public condemnations of Stollman by many of the artists he worked with since the label’s inception in 1964 aside, the breadth of adventurous music the label has its name attached to will be the lasting testament to its importance, but we still can’t wait to read this thing.
Here is just a small helping of some of the music ESP-Disk' exposed to the world.