As a youth in Saigon’s Chinatown of the 1960s and ’70s, Paul Au was greatly affected by American “hippie” culture and Rock and Roll. He was smuggled into Hong Kong in 1974 to escape the South Vietnamese military draft. At first living in rooftop squats, he started to trade used vinyl records on the streets of Kowloon, and finally established an underground reputation for his eclectic blend and unending supply of recorded music.
“Paul’s Records solidifies Andrew Guthrie’s status as the most perceptive, and astute, observer of the lingering appeal of recording and cassette culture in post-colonial Hong Kong. His book combines a quirky sensibility with impeccable musical taste, and can be read as both a historical account and a lyrical paean to a distinctive mode of listening. Paul’s Records is augmented by an eloquent coterie of photographs whose layout is as significant as their content.” – Giorgio Biancorosso, Associate Professor, Department of Music, The University of Hong Kong
“Paul is a loyal vinyl collector and I admire his dedication. His collection of vinyl LPs is beyond words. He’s like a vinyl madman who hasn’t even had the time to listen to them all.” – Uncle Ray Cordeiro MBE, RTHK Radio 3
“The photographer and the collector have much in common. An obsessive nature helps propel both towards their goals. But knowing the world by possessing it, through photography or physical acquisition, is of course a doomed enterprise. What you can do however is create your own world, which is what both the photographer and the collector does – beginning with fascination, leading to exploration and appreciation, and then knowledge, judgement and finally action. Photographer Andrew S. Guthrie brings a collector’s deep appreciation to the world of Paul Record’s in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po district. Combining anthropological objectivity with a poetic sensibility, Guthrie both creates and reveals a world. An objective documentation of this extraordinary place, and the story of Paul Au Tak-shing, the man who created it (beginning in wartime Saigon), would in itself be worthy and supremely satisfying. Yet Guthrie invests his documentation with his own deep affinity for vinyl, and a companionable appreciation of life in one of Hong Kong’s oldest and toughest neighbourhoods. Paul’s Records is a gift to Hong Kong and to anyone who wants to know more about the unique worlds that thrive in its crowded spaces.” – Greg Girard, author of City of Darkness: Life In Kowloon Walled City