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Stranded: Rock And Roll For A Desert Island Paperback – March 21, 1996

4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When rock critic Greil Marcus asked 20 other writers on rock what one rock-and-roll album they'd want to take to a desert island, the resulting 20 fervent essays by the likes of Dave Marsh, Lester Bangs, and Robert Christgau became this engaging book. It's a brief but intense amusement to imagine spending the rest of your life under a coconut palm listening to The Kinks, The Eagles, Van Morrison or The Ronettes.

Review

[This] collection of essays [is] by turns thoughtful, compelling, sexy, hilarious, quirky--and surprisingly true to the basic impulse of rock-and-roll. -- The New York Times Book Review, Laurence Gonzales
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306806827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306806827
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,930,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
No disrespect to the two reviewers before me, but I felt the need to offer a glimpse into what this book has to offer. The premise is a simple one: If you're deserted on a desert island, which album (if you can have only one) would you want with you for eternity? It's not necessarily an all time favorite record, as many of the authors in this book will point out, but perhaps one that serves a specific purpose for the individual. Entries range from hysterical notations about albums fulfilling a more literal/physical need (Dave Marsh's Chapter on songs linked by the theme of masturbation), to a journalist's personal relationship with the Eagles' album Desperado. Hell, the longest chapter in this book is a writer defending Linda Ronstadt and all that she embodies (which admittedly was a bit tough to get through, but still pretty entertaining in its own bizarre way). Oh, by the way, this book was originally published in the late seventies, so all the albums discussed are a few decades old (not that this is at all a bad thing, but just wanted to make that clear). This is not just some book name-dropping cool albums that have plenty of credibility amongst audiophiles. Stranded is an interesting look inside people's emotional connections with particular artists and their music that will inevitably get you thinking about your desert island album, and the multitude of reasons behind your selection.
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I am a big fan of reading music criticism, so I was excited to hear the opinions of these (mostly) esteemed writers on a quirky topic: If you were marooned on a deserted island and able to bring one album, which would you bring? Unfortunately, only a scant few writers actually address this question. Rather, it seems to me, they just sent the editor, Greil Marcus, some piece they seemed to have lying around that focused on a favorite album or artist. In the majority of pieces, the author never even acknowledges the question. The pieces just serve as vehicles to rant about some personally loved record. How else could you explain the essays on Huey "Piano" Smith (really fun music, but hardly something you could listen to repeatedly - even if you love this type of New Orleans frolicking rock), Desperado by the Eagles (I think it's common knowledge just how hokey this album is), The Pretender by Jackson Browne (another Southern California wanker album), or Little Willie John (a flash in the pan burned out by age 19)?

Apart from not being what it purports to be, the collection contains some good pieces - and several bad ones. I love the piece by Lester Bangs on Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. It is very personal and insightful. The piece on Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica makes you actually want to listen to the off-putting album more closely (plus the piece is one of the few that justifies just why this album should be brought to the island). The piece by Nick Tosches is well written and fun to read. The piece on Beggar's Banquet by the Rolling Stones is excellent (and addresses the core question) and, interestingly enough, goes on to explain why the author does not particularly like the Stones but how they convey some critical essences of rock on this album.
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Don't waste your time. If I was stranded on an island and this was my only book, I'd use the pages to make origami. In fairness I didn't finish the book. That's because the first three essays I read were abominably written and I just didn't want to wade through more of the same.
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Excellent writing, many different styles, lots of albums that you need to go back and listen to again in the light of what has been written here.
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