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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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If you have diverse interests in music, this is the book for you. The book may not be as useful if you only listen to one type of music and are already very familiar with those recordings (for instance if you only listen to classic rock).
Of course, if you do not have any way to listen to the listed recordings, then this book might be somewhat pointless. However, it is fun to read about a recording, (e.g., an early 40's blues guitar recording; or a modern classical piece; or a 60's zydeco recording; or an early punk rock record etc.) and then listen to the recording at the same time using a service like Rhapsody.
The Kindle edition of this book is a good buy at $2.99; however, I think a hard copy of the book might be better because you'll do a lot of flipping back and forth between the chapters and appendices and a real book is better for this.
I have noted that for the included classical and opera pieces, the author often chose really old recordings. Sure, these might be highly regarded classic recordings of these pieces, but they also sound like crap compared to modern recordings. I am quite sure that there are great recordings of these classical masterpieces that are not 60 or 70 years old.
Yes, it is all still out there; eBay being the obvious choice among rival bidders - but you get the choice of 'good enough', '1st pressing' or 'cheap and playable' depending on your budget, preference etc. Then you have the local thrift stores and 'record stores' where people dump those piles of vinyl from the attic - recycling, perhaps? Wherever it comes from, you can find it and this is the core of my message. If you can find it to rent (local library) or buy (eBay, thrift etc) get the original and hear it as it was supposed to be heard. This book will literally jump out at you and you will thirst for more...
That music was crafted long ago by those who sought to bring an experience to their listener and did so according to how its reproduction should sound (or at least as best they could manage within the boundaries of the technology at the time...Jelly Roll Morton, Memphis Minnie and Bix Beiderbecke for example). There have been many treatises on the reproduction of music - especially classical, written not for the LP but for the salon or concert hall - but to experience it in the medium that brings the intent of the composer/writer/performer alive should not be missed. From within that medium comes the textures and dimensions modern compression for our disposable 'noise in the background' music media have destroyed or lost along the way.
...then you will have found your music. It won't be that of the reviewers, nor necessarily the same 'list', but you will have experienced what music can do as well as understand where it comes from and how it has developed. Buying this book will begin a journey you can enjoy and share with others too, learning of their tastes and perspectives and sharing yours - to say nothing of nostalgia etc.
Tell you what...go down to the local 'record store', find a good copy of an album (and I mean an LP you own on CD) you think you know (according to taste...) and play it in the store. See what you think. Enjoy.
in the back of the book, it has other ways of listing the recordings - general all-encompassing index, by genre (blues, electronica, vocals...), for special occasions (cocktail hour, play this for the kids...), classical & opera composers, classical & opera performers - as well as some recordings quick-listed that the author would have added if the title were "1108 recording to hear before you die."
i liked the listing of recordings by country, under world genre listing, & found a recording that interested me that way. i wish that the "next stop" & "after that" standard features of each listing had been confined to recordings listed in the book, so i could satisfy the created curiosity instantly & informatively, but that is a minor quibble. another quibble is that the book contains annoyingly varied & tiny fonts. prepare to buy your first pair of reading glasses, if you aren't already rolling down that hill, as i am.
great gift for anyone, expert to amateur. the experts will enjoy being annoyed by what is included & what is excluded. the amateurs will be able to find at least one album to buy that they will enjoy that never would have occurred to them otherwise. avid general readers will enjoy the great writing regardless of their listening habits or lack thereof.