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1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (1,000... Before You Die Books) Paperback – August 4, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Put shorter, "Who made YOU the judge? And why are you such a snob?"
There are no upsides to undertaking such a project for the arbiters of musical taste.
While I was duly impressed with Tom Moon's boldness, I was fully prepared to gut him for his shortcomings in selecting these "essential" recordings.
First, the boring stuff:
The book is sorted alphabetically by artist. This presents some difficulty for, say, opera composers, as a given performance of "Madame Butterfly" might be under the composer or the artist. Fortunately, indexes refer to both. Unfortunately, whomever compiled the index (probably that Microsoft Word fella) didn't check for relevance---when I look up Beethoven's 9th Symphony, it takes me to a parenthetical reference to it (main subject: the "Missa Solemnis"), the page where it's truly discussed is not in the index.
As a reference book, this poses some trouble. As a skimmer, it poses none.
Now, let's get to the content.
Many, many genres are represented here. Classical music and opera are given due prominence; country, metal, and Southern Rock are an afterthought; folk is way overrepresented; blues, rap, world, disco, and pop are about right. I'd say this compilation reflects the usual Baby Boomer view of the world of music leavened by a bit of "Empire Records" snobbery.
So how'd the artist and recording selection by genre fare?
Quite well, surprisingly.Read more ›
To make my biases clear from the outset, though, it's worth noting that my areas of special interest and musical knowledge are classic rock (some pop) and classical music (including opera).
This makes my perspective perhaps a little different from others, and from the author's, because he admits up front that his weaknesses are classical and opera. While I can't say I either totally agree with his choices (or recordings of the pieces he chooses), there's really nothing "wrong" with his selections in these areas that I've found -- they're mostly rather "safe" choices that a new listener can't go wrong with, though many of the standards I looked up were very old (granted, to a skilled listener, many OLD recordings are the BEST recordings), but with old tech, you don't get the clearest production of sound and detail that a new listener would obtain from a newer (DDD) recording.
But there are exceptions to that rule. I was quite surprised that he chose Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle's recording of the 9 Beethoven Symphonies -- Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies. This is a VERY fine recording, but it's of a new edition ("Barenreiter") that still has some critics unconvinced. It's a great recording, and I own it, but there are so many other cycles of Beethoven's Symphonies that have been around for decades and have passed the test of time.Read more ›
This is the rare book that completely lives up to its product description. It's interesting and well written. It will cause you to revisit stuff that has been submerged in your collection. It will help you to discover music that lies beyond your usual listening boundaries. Most importantly, Tom Moon is enthusiastic and well informed about an incredibly wide range of styles and genres.
The best aspect of this book, however, is that it reflects the taste and experience of one person. Let's face it: the Zagat's/American Idol/MySpace/Yelp method of mass voting ends up glorifying the lowest common denominator. Anything that is unique, quirky, or challenging gets buried and marginalized.
Moon, on the other hand, is able to establish a consistent tone and viewpoint that gives him the space to include both the expected (come on, you know Dark Side of the Moon, Kind of Blue, and Beethoven's Ninth are going to be included in a book like this) and the unexpected. For instance, Learning to Crawl instead of Pretenders? The Shape of Jazz to Come and not This Is Our Music?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this exhaustive listing is just THAT,,,an exhaustive list of stuff you may have some small interest in,,,it is exhaustingPublished 12 months ago by Mr. C
Fun read with lots of great albums. A fun book to just pick up and flip throughPublished 12 months ago by Tom Heslin
I loved this book so much, I bought it twice. It's like having a good friend give you his ultimate playlist. A very well informed friend. Read morePublished 14 months ago by C. Fasy
What a blast! I've been on a constant musical discovery since receiving this book.Published 20 months ago by Justin Thyme
Great selection of songs and albums with well presented reasons for spending time with each. A wonderful book of essays about something meaningful, music.Published 21 months ago by Tom Besson