Nik Cohn, Market (Penguin, 1970)

Searching for gold in dusty, crumbling racks of old seventy-eights, chipped and derelict, bad tunes, forgotten singers, syrupy violins. And lurking in there somewhere, treasure, Little Richard or the Coasters or Jerry Lee Lewis, some early and orgiastic, wild rocker. . . He searches for an hour without luck, rack after rack of dross, his eyes get tired and his fingers are thick with dust . . . But when and if he occasionally does find something, an original Johnny Otis, the waiting and time wasted doesn’t matter, he wraps it up in his coat like stolen goods, spiriting it away through the market and onto his player at something near a run. Then he sits poised above the soundbox, and the music goes round and round, almost obliterated by the chips and the scratches and the crackles, but there all the same, deep down, a pure gem. His day made.

Nik Cohn’s Market was first published in hardback by Secker & Warburg in 1965, when it eventually made it into paperback in 1970 he excised virtually every section that was once topical and could therefore date his story. Much was lost . . . including the above.

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