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The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition Paperback – November 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"How do you make an album guide that fits in a book bag?" Bracket asks in the introduction to this door-stopping compendium. "Selectively," he answers. To trim down the possibilities, the editors of this book decided to limit their entries to domestically released recordings currently available through major online stores. This makes it easy for consumers to buy what they want, as long as they want the latest mainstream music. Roughly 70 percent of the writing in this guide is new; Brackett notes that the editors chose artists who "have made a lasting, undeniable contribution to pop music." There are extra-long entries for Miles Davis, Dion, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Elvis and Muddy Waters, but a few baffling oversights (e.g., George Harrison is missing while the maligned Paula Abdul remains). The Guide is not intended for popular music historians, but a comparison with earlier editions reveals much about trends in popular music commentary: Chicago’s recordings, once ahead of their time, are now "schlock;" a Rolling Stone reviewer has realized that Yes made some good records; and Tony Bennett merits triple the space he occupied in 1992. The new edition’s 72 authors (vs. the four in 1992) produce a tone and style less consistent than in past editions. Some things have not changed: the best-selling albums generally get the highest ratings, and punks and bluesmen are demigods. Often entertaining, the guide offers comprehensive album lists and usefully ranks the innumerable collections available for many artists. (Also welcome is the short section on anthologies and soundtracks.) However, readers seeking lengthy reviews of individual albums would probably be better off looking elsewhere.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Nathan Brackett is a senior editor at Rolling Stone, where he has edited the magazine's record reviews section since 1996.

Christian Hoard is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone. He has also written for The Village Voice, Blender, Spin, and The Boston Globe.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Fireside; 4 Rev Upd edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743201698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743201698
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Jim Mitchell on November 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
The two previous versions of the RS Album Guide that I own are some of the most frequently read music books in my house. I've long been awaiting a new volume, since most of my listening habits started after the release of the '92 edition, and a lot of my favorite CDs were obviously not reviewed. So it's not as if I don't thoroughly enjoy the content of these books. But something is wrong with this update. Maybe access to the internet has made such books obsolete- why pay this kind of money when similar and much more thorough information is available online? Or maybe I'm just not as interested in pop culture trivia as I was ten years ago. Or maybe this book just isn't written as well as the two previous versions were. I think it's a combination of all three, with an emphasis on the latter.

Given the diversity of popular music these days, I think that such a book like this spreads itself too thin. I'm no fan of many of the bands that other reviews have complained about being omitted from the book, but I certainly understand why a Deep Purple or Metallica fan would be upset that a book by Rolling Stone Magazine would skip them. The reviews themselves just seem...I don't know...skimpy. Obviously you can't give indepth reviews of every album by every artist in a book of this scope, but it seems that there was much more information in the previous editions. The reviews seem much more cynical, too- I appreciate that they albums are being reviewed from a contemporary viewpoint, but certainly my favorite classic rock records can't have aged THAT much, can they? Also, the print is enormous in this book, making its bulk somewhat deceptive.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on October 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a waste of a twenty spot!!!! One star is too much....

Me, I Wished I Had Checked This Out From The Library...Then I could have brought it back. Once upon a time I would look to Rolling Stone for the best in popular music record reviews. No more! Now, much like the decline of the print magazine, the record guide also sucks much more than some of the albums reviewed. I guess I would rather listen to A-ha's second album than read this. Notable for what it leaves out, including George Harrison, Widespead Panic, NIN, Metallica and Ry Cooder, among many others. 98 Degrees and Justin Timberlake ARE included. Take your money, and buy a subscription to Paste Magazine and bookmark the all music guide web site for your record reviews.

Also, the reviewers attempts to sound hip fall flatter than a stale joke. One of these kids thinks Pink Floyd's "the wall" sucks.
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By TheBandit VINE VOICE on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Milli Vanilli's place in Rolling Stone's Album Guide is secure. Thank God, because they definitely earned it. I'm sure tons of people are holding off on purchasing their albums until they see how many stars Rolling Stone awarded them.

But I guess recently-inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Harrison, an artist who earned a high ranking on Rolling Stone's own list of greatest guitarist, doesn't really warrant a few paragraphs. After all, who still listens to "All Things Must Pass" anyway?

But if you're interested in the umpteenth live All-Starr band release from Ringo, it is rated in this guide. That's not to say Ringo should've been cut, but c'mon. If Ringo's solo career deserves recognition, I think a half-page or so could've been reserved for George.

I don't want it to seem like that's my only beef with this new edition. I was dissapointed to see that quite a few entries are basically the same as in the previous edition. These guys had 12 years, I think they could've done better than "70 percent" new material (that's by their own admission in the book's forward).
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By ProperGander News (Dr. Emil Shuffhausen) on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Many reasonable music fans would be utterly baffled by the obtuse, eccentric, inconsistent, inaccurate, incomplete, scattershot, scatterbrained, and ultimately irrelevant nature of this Fourth Edition of the once-proud Rolling Stone brand Album Guide. How can such a fat, sprawling, ostensibly labor-intensive work be so shoddy and gap-filled?

One scarcely knows where to begin in criticizing this book. Some have mentioned the puzzling, random way in which artists are included or excluded. For example, here are a few of the classic rock/pop/soul artists that are not included at all (love 'em or hate 'em, they are significant):

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
George Harrison
Deep Purple
Nine Inch Nails
Dan Fogelberg
Dixie Dregs
Lionel Richie
Al Stewart
Marshall Tucker Band
Alan Parsons
Gerry Rafferty
Chris Rea
The Move
Rick Wakeman
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Crowded House (The Finn Brothers and Split Enz also)
Tom Jones

And, if you're going to include some country artists, how can you leave out longtime major artists such as Alabama, George Strait, John Denver, Martina McBride, Andy Griggs, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, The Judds, Kenny Rogers, Brad Paisley, or any number of others?

Plus, albums in the Christian and Gospel genres are almost completely blackballed here, in a neat bit of exclusion, despite the fact that there are some worthy artists out there who have made groundbreaking, compelling, beautiful, rocking, daring, and moving music over the years.
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