Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The White House Record Collection.

When Barack Obama moved into the White House on January 20th, he gained access to five chefs, a private bowling alley -- and a killer collection of classic LPs.

Rolling Stone magazine reports that stored in the basement of the executive mansion is the official White House Record Library: several hundred LPs that include landmark albums in rock (Led Zeppelin IV, the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed), punk (the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols), cult classics (Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, the Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace of Sin) and disco. Not to mention records by Santana, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, the Cars and Barry Manilow.

During the waning days of the Nixon administration, the RIAA, the record companies' trade group, decided the library should include sound recordings as well as books. In 1973, the organization donated close to 2,000 LPs. The bad news: The selection was dominated by the likes of Pat Boone, the Carpenters and John Denver. In 1979, legendary producer John Hammond convened a new commission to update the list for the hipper Carter administration. The result: 200 rock records were added to the library.

On January 13th, 1981, the LPs — each in a sleeve with a presidential seal — were presented to Jimmy Carter at a White House ceremony. But the collection — placed in a hallway near the third-floor listening room, complete with a sound system — didn't remain upstairs long. When Ronald Reagan took office that year, the LPs were moved to the basement. Depending on the source, the reason was Nancy Reagan's distaste for shelves of vinyl, or the edgy choices themselves.

A spokesman for Obama said it was too early to comment on whether the president would revive the library.