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All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues Paperback – April 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Amg All Media Guide
  • Paperback: 754 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; 3 edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879307366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879307363
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 7.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Should be on every blues lover's list." -Blues Access "Easily the best blues guide...a real winner." -Real Blues

About the Author

Vladimir Bogdanov is president of All Media Guide (AMG); Chris Woodstra is AMG vice president of content development; Stephen Thomas Erlewine is AMG director of content, popular music.

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Customer Reviews

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He's a big, big Howlin-Wolf sized blues fan!
ChicC
The bottom line: this is a great book for the home bookshelf and for packing into your favorite used CD shop.
KTD73
Biggest difference is that this book contains not only more artists, but also more CDs by the artists.
KASHIWA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By KTD73 on March 21, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The other reviews focus on the flaws in this book, and there certainly are some. (My biggest problem is that the number of stars given to rate a certain album sometimes don't match with the written reviews.) But overall there is so much wonderful and helpful information in this book that I can't recommend it highly enough.

One of the questions you have to ask in a review like this is "compared to what"? By comparison, the Music Hound Guide to the Blues costs a dollar more, reviews thousands (literally) fewer albums, and makes assessments that are just plain silly at time. And don't get me started on the latest version of the Rolling Stone Album Guide (which claims to be all you need for all genres). Actually, I panned that one pretty well elsewhere on Amazon.

I've used two editions of this book over the last six or seven years to build my blues library, and I've seldom been steered wrong. For one thing, they have a sophisticated rating system that not only tells you how good they think an album is, but how essential it is for a collector. For instance, they point out which are the best albums to start with if you are just coming to appreciate an artist.

Also, the extra writing is well worth the price. There are hundreds of worthwhile overviews of artists' lives and musical careers. They seem honest and insightful. And there are many essays about the history of the blues and the different genres of the blues that are extremely educational.

The bottom line: this is a great book for the home bookshelf and for packing into your favorite used CD shop. As for the stuff that shouldn't be there in some people's opinions: I've never complained about having too much information.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Now in an expanded and updated third edition, the All Music Guide To The Blues: The Definitive Guide To The Blues is the collaborative effort of Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine. A dictionary-style compendium of biographies of great blues masters, reviews and ratings for top-notch performances and collections, the Music Guide To The Blues offers a wealth of essays, music map chronologies of the evolution of the blues, and so much more. The entries are concise yet fact-filled in this definitive resource which is a core addition to any personal, professional, or academic reference collection.
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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Redgecko on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first bought this book about 5 months ago, I was inclined to review it and give it 5 stars, based upon first impressions. But as I delved more deeply into the book I found glaring omissions both in the artists reviewed as well as missing titles. Also, several artists were included that are either rock or soul artists and have little to do with the blues. And, many of the reviews are badly written and inconsistent. For instance, a rave narrative will be written but then given only 2 stars, or a mediocre write-up will get 5 stars. And, one of my favorite inconsistencies is Bill Dahl's review of the album "Showdown!", co-authored by Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray. Dahl gives this album (and, keep in mind that it is the album, not the artist being reviewed), 5 stars under Copeland and Cray, but 4 stars under Collins. Now, for some details:

Chuck Berry has been vary influential in blues-oriented rock music but his recordings are not reviewed. Chuck is mentioned about 30 times throughout the Guide but his autobiography nor discography is not related--a glaring omission.

Tom Principato whose origins are in the Washington, D.C. area, is a very well-known blues singer and guitarist who has been around for over 20 years and has a discography of over a dozen albums. Every modern bluesman knows Tom Principato and most have heard his scorching guitar solos. He's not even in The Guide's index!

Gary Smith hails from the San Francisco Bay area and began playing harmonica with Charlie Musselwhite in the late 1960's. Gary has recordings going back to the 1970's (his recordings on the album An Anthology of San Francisco Bay Blues, 1976), is exceptional.

Misleading reviews, e.g.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By New England Yankee on October 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm not going to address the other reviewers' issues with this guide other than to acknowledge some of them. Those that concern outright errors, I agree. Those regarding omissions, emphasis, and other things - well, you can make up your own mind about those and the reviewers' biases.

The coverage of this guide is sweeping and the write-ups on individual artists are excellent. Each entry is tailored in length to the individual's relative importance to Blues history. There is also an excellent introduction covering the history of the Blues and each Blues genre, and for the uninitiated, there are quite a few. Artist entries include album and singles lists, including compilations, with ratings for each and recommendations as to which a collector might focus on and why.

It is actually the last bit I find most valuable. If you don't already own a single recording for a given artist, how can you make a selection when you're faced with your choices at the store? Granted, in some places you can preview the music, but that still doesn't get you what you need: the BEST choices. I don't know about you, but with very, very few exceptions, I'm not interested in collecting 100% of a given artist's albums, and I'm dead certain I don't want to collect randomly. The fact that what's available in the store bin is highly likely to be the least desirable choice only ups the ante.

So in the end, it's the collecting recommendations that stand out for me - to the point where I went through the book and put together a list of specific albums to look for. Priceless. My agreement with the guide's recommendations is pretty high - probably close to 80% or so. And that alone makes the cost of the book worthwhile.
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