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Fox first made his case for Cincinnati-based King Records as "the most important record company in the United States between the years of 1945 and 1960" in a series of public radio documentaries in 1986; those original interviews are an important foundation of this history, with much supplementary research added. There's much to be said for the label's legacy: in addition to introducing James Brown to listeners, King had stars in several popular genres, pioneered the introduction of R&B songs to the country music repertoire before Sam Phillips at Sun and may even have released the first rock and roll record (Wynonie Harris's "Good Rockin' Tonight") in 1948. Unfortunately, though loaded with great stories, Fox has some difficulty getting into gear. Instead of telling a straight chronological account, he organizes the King story around personalities, beginning with the company's founder, Syd Nathan; each subject's history is then tracked forward past their King years, forcing Fox to continually circle back and pick things up again. Some repetition creeps in-a story about how much Nathan hated Brown's first single is told on three separate occasions. Still, his account gives us a much needed glimpse of an underappreciated pop culture institution. 23 photos. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.