All Music Guide to Rock - 3rd Edition: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul Paperback – Dec 6 2007
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From Library Journal
As accurate and obsessively detailed as www.allmusic.com is, its print cousins can seem somewhat redundant. This well-established entry, now in its third edition, offers biographical and listener's advisory information on artists and recordings that All Music Guide (AMG) editors Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine have deemed rock an all-encompassing term that includes pop, soul, R&B, rap, and easy listening. Since the last edition (1997), about 3000 album reviews and 400 artist profiles have been added. That makes for a total of 2200 alphabetically arranged artist entries and 14,000 reviews (rated on a scale of one to five stars), most of which are signed. While the contributors cover a remarkable range of new artists from Aaliyah to Weezer, they often give short shrift to those who recorded prior to the 1980s; sometimes, whole bodies of work are ignored in favor of "best of" compilations. Refreshingly, most reviews are free of rock elitism, so useful guidance is given for styles often reviled by critics (e.g., heavy metal). The closing section offers a series of introductory essays on various rock styles, some obvious ("British Invasion") and others obscure ("Jangle Pop"). Also included are dozens of "music maps," flow charts that illustrate the development of each style. The AMG provides more detail and analysis of an artist's career than the MusicHound, Rough Guide, and Rolling Stone books, so having circulating copies on hand may be most appropriate. Recommended, but keep the web site bookmarked. Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Vladimir Bogdanov is president of All Media Guide (AMG); Chris Woodstra is AMG editor-in-chief; Stephen Thomas Erlewine is an AMG senior editor.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
If you're merely interested in exploring contemporary rock music, skip the purchase; refer to AMG's website, search to your heart's delight, and take their suggestions with a grain of salt.
If you're a die hard aficionado and looking to complete a well-rounded collection, AMG's guide serves as a checklist of sorts for choosing from the discographies of thousands of artists. Again, you will certainly find your opinions vary from those of the writers.* Do not buy blindly.
For albums produced prior to 1995, I personally refer to the Trouser Press guide or the 2nd edition of AMG's guide. In the 2nd edition of the AMG rock guide, the writing style is closer to rock journalism than fan fiction, and the reviews seem honest rather than celebratory.
*As for other users' comments that the reviews in the 3rd edition seem to be written by fans rather than journalists: that's because they are written by fans. At the launch of the AMG website, AMG began allowing fans to submit reviews; with the publication of the 3rd edition guide, they began including fans' reviews in the written volume. Personally, I found the reviews to be more consistent and fair when authored by the AMG staff.
This is dead right (well, except my previous edition was dated 1997 and not 1995 but let's not quibble!). In this new edition the write-ups for each group have been cut right down and are far, far shorter than in the previous edition. Also some of the breathtaking excellent essays have been dropped. For example compare the entries for Nirvana: 20 column inches in 1997 have been reduced to less than three column inches!
Fortunately the All Music website provides access to most of this missing data but I would really like to have it in book form.
Yes, this is still the best rock reference around but sadly it is not as good as it used to be. It is drifting worryingly towards the format of the MusicHound book on Rock (which, if you don't know it, is another rock reference guide).
I guess the best way to fill the hole which is now appearing in the All Music book is to get the Rough Guide to Rock. The Rough Guide was always a bit idiosyncratic as a lot of its entries were written by fans of the groups involved (but they were not always sickeningly sweet in their statements!) but the Rough Guide always gave a far more immediate sense of the passions and emotions of what the band was all about, whereas the All Music guide confined its remarks to the strictly factual and it always seemed to write as if the All Music guide was thinking about the band's lawyers suing it!Read more ›
The good news is that there is little overlap between this and the previous volumes. Nearly all of the reviews (maybe 90 percent) have been assigned to new writers and re-written. Besides the new and often fascinating reviews, the advantage this book has over its predecessor is more reviews per artist. And as in the previous edition nearly all of the albums featured receive an in-depth critical appraisal not the one or two tossed off lines you'll find in other music guides. Of course the book is also up to date featuring dozens of albums released since 1995 by both new and veteran artists.
That all being said, the original book was much better. The artists biographies are cut to the bare minimums this time around. And while this new edition contains individual essays on rock's various sub-genres, there are less of them in the new book. Further the first volume contained a number of book and bootleg reviews. In this edition there's none of the former and precious few of the latter. There are also less of the one-hit wonders and obscure bands that were present in the first book.
As usual, the criteria for inclusion is erratic and subjective. Like the first volume the editors draw the line at performers associated with a Country and Western audience excluding even performers with large pop and rock followings like Johnny Cash and Brenda Lee. There are similar oversights with current performers like the hugely popular Sugar Ray. The questionable selection criteria is also present in the albums that are reviewed.Read more ›
The book cover albums issued before or no later than October 2001, so you will find reviews on albums such as Dylan's "Love & Theft" and Collective Soul's "7even Year Itch", but you won't find, say, Radiohead's "I Might Be Wrong--Live Recordings" or Natalie Merchant's "Motherland". Of course, as the editors note, this book is culled from the vastly more expansive on line version of All Music Guide, which obviously is also updated more frequently. The book has some curious omissions (what, no listing for Creed?) and out-of-proportion reviews (3+ pages on The Fall, about the same as for the Beatles!).
In the end, those are minor quibbles. While the on line version is more complete and up to date, I also want to have something I can physically leaf through (same reason why there are still actual newspapers, I guess). Let's just hope that it won't take another 5 years before the 4th Edition sees the day of light! Meanwhile, we will do with this. BUY IT!
Most recent customer reviews
This review is in response to Mr. Bogdanov's book, with the featured Amazon link to p. 557 concerning the song, Wipe Out:
• Excerpt from page 557 "... Read more
If you're into rock trivia or just have the need to know more detail, this is an excellent source. It is not fully encyclopedic, missing many albums found in other books, such as... Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2003 by Mad Dog
This book is without a doubt the best overall guide to rock bands and musicians I have encountered. The coverage is very full - each artist has a career summary at the beginning... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003 by Leigh Blackmore
The only problem is they like TOO much and seem to have a hard time being negative.
Besides that, this thing is the musical reference bible that provides endless browing,... Read more
This is the most complete history of rock I've ever seen--and I saw quite a few when I was researching for my book "Forever Retro Blues. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2003 by KatSchool
I agree with most of the sentiment expressed by the other reviewers. It's still the best guide out there, but its previously high standards have dropped alarmingly. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2002 by NICK DODD
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