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All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd Edition) Paperback – April 1, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As accurate and obsessively detailed as www.allmusic.com is, its print cousins can seem somewhat redundant. This well-established entry, now in its third edition, offers biographical and listener's advisory information on artists and recordings that All Music Guide (AMG) editors Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine have deemed rock an all-encompassing term that includes pop, soul, R&B, rap, and easy listening. Since the last edition (1997), about 3000 album reviews and 400 artist profiles have been added. That makes for a total of 2200 alphabetically arranged artist entries and 14,000 reviews (rated on a scale of one to five stars), most of which are signed. While the contributors cover a remarkable range of new artists from Aaliyah to Weezer, they often give short shrift to those who recorded prior to the 1980s; sometimes, whole bodies of work are ignored in favor of "best of" compilations. Refreshingly, most reviews are free of rock elitism, so useful guidance is given for styles often reviled by critics (e.g., heavy metal). The closing section offers a series of introductory essays on various rock styles, some obvious ("British Invasion") and others obscure ("Jangle Pop"). Also included are dozens of "music maps," flow charts that illustrate the development of each style. The AMG provides more detail and analysis of an artist's career than the MusicHound, Rough Guide, and Rolling Stone books, so having circulating copies on hand may be most appropriate. Recommended, but keep the web site bookmarked. Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Vladimir Bogdanov is president of All Media Guide (AMG); Chris Woodstra is AMG editor-in-chief; Stephen Thomas Erlewine is an AMG senior editor.

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Product Details

  • Series: All Music Guides
  • Paperback: 1399 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; 3rd edition (April 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087930653X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879306533
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First things first: AMG's rock guide is still the most comprehensive look at modern rock music of all styles. This honor is only won, though, by the default of Trouser Press to update their album guide after 1996.
If you're merely interested in exploring contemporary rock music, skip the purchase; refer to AMG's website, search to your heart's delight, and take their suggestions with a grain of salt.
If you're a die hard aficionado and looking to complete a well-rounded collection, AMG's guide serves as a checklist of sorts for choosing from the discographies of thousands of artists. Again, you will certainly find your opinions vary from those of the writers.* Do not buy blindly.
For albums produced prior to 1995, I personally refer to the Trouser Press guide or the 2nd edition of AMG's guide. In the 2nd edition of the AMG rock guide, the writing style is closer to rock journalism than fan fiction, and the reviews seem honest rather than celebratory.
*As for other users' comments that the reviews in the 3rd edition seem to be written by fans rather than journalists: that's because they are written by fans. At the launch of the AMG website, AMG began allowing fans to submit reviews; with the publication of the 3rd edition guide, they began including fans' reviews in the written volume. Personally, I found the reviews to be more consistent and fair when authored by the AMG staff.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
5 years after the 2nd Edition, we finally receive the 3rd Edition of the All Music Guide to Rock: 1,399 (no, not 1,400!) pages of vital information on the best in rock music from yesterday and today. What sets this reference book apart from its competitors is the detailed album-by-album review (and rating) of the artists. A good example is how the editors treat Bob Dylan's career and its 40+ (and counting) albums.
The book cover albums issued before or no later than October 2001, so you will find reviews on albums such as Dylan's "Love & Theft" and Collective Soul's "7even Year Itch", but you won't find, say, Radiohead's "I Might Be Wrong--Live Recordings" or Natalie Merchant's "Motherland". Of course, as the editors note, this book is culled from the vastly more expansive on line version of All Music Guide, which obviously is also updated more frequently. The book has some curious omissions (what, no listing for Creed?) and out-of-proportion reviews (3+ pages on The Fall, about the same as for the Beatles!).
In the end, those are minor quibbles. While the on line version is more complete and up to date, I also want to have something I can physically leaf through (same reason why there are still actual newspapers, I guess). Let's just hope that it won't take another 5 years before the 4th Edition sees the day of light! Meanwhile, we will do with this. BUY IT!
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Format: Paperback
This is without a doubt the best rock reference book around today. However, it does not quite live up to the standard of of the original 1995 edition which was simply the best rock reference book ever.
The good news is that there is little overlap between this and the previous volumes. Nearly all of the reviews (maybe 90 percent) have been assigned to new writers and re-written. Besides the new and often fascinating reviews, the advantage this book has over its predecessor is more reviews per artist. And as in the previous edition nearly all of the albums featured receive an in-depth critical appraisal not the one or two tossed off lines you'll find in other music guides. Of course the book is also up to date featuring dozens of albums released since 1995 by both new and veteran artists.
That all being said, the original book was much better. The artists biographies are cut to the bare minimums this time around. And while this new edition contains individual essays on rock's various sub-genres, there are less of them in the new book. Further the first volume contained a number of book and bootleg reviews. In this edition there's none of the former and precious few of the latter. There are also less of the one-hit wonders and obscure bands that were present in the first book.
As usual, the criteria for inclusion is erratic and subjective. Like the first volume the editors draw the line at performers associated with a Country and Western audience excluding even performers with large pop and rock followings like Johnny Cash and Brenda Lee. There are similar oversights with current performers like the hugely popular Sugar Ray. The questionable selection criteria is also present in the albums that are reviewed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any All Music Guide Book is a good investment. The All Music Guide Book of Rock is exceptional in the number of groups covered and the depth of the reviews. As an example, for Progressive Rock fans , groups such as Matching Mole and Gong are listed as well as heavyweights such as Camel and Caravan. However, it does not cover other spin-off progressive bands such as National Health,Gilgamesh or Hatfield and the North.Therefore, you must use the All Music Guide website to research these bands. Hence, the hard copy of All Music Guide to Rock is great for what it covers but there are the inevitable gaps and limits of static research provided in a reference book.

Nonetheless, it covers all the heavy hitters in great detail such as Bob Dylan, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. The Grateful Dead are given the deserved royal treatment also. However, the Dead are the best example of an evolving discography. Four of the Dick's Picks are listed. Yet this growing catalogue is at least up to Dick's Picks #32. Essentially,this is a great purchase if you relish a hard copy reference book,which I prefer. However, if it is simply music information you crave then forgo the book and stick to the on-line reviews.
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