- Paperback: 1232 pages
- Publisher: Rough Guides; 3rd edition (November 17, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1843531054
- ISBN-13: 978-1843531050
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Rough Guide Rock: The Definitive Guide to More than 1200 Artists and Bands (3rd Edition: Expanded and Completely Revised) Paperback – November 20, 2003
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Compact discs make great gifts--they're easy to wrap, they won't break the bank (depending on how many you buy), and everyone loves music. Rough Guide's rock encyclopedia contains a thousand plus entries covering every phase of rock, from R&B through punk and soul to hip-hop. It's also great to browse, with more interesting details about Little Richard and the Everly Brothers than you ever would have thought to ask. Included are career biographies of more than 1,000 bands and artists, with more than 5,000 CD recommendations. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Sexy, all-conquering guide with big, brash entries written by opinionated maniacs" The Guardian "Unafraid to stick its neck out for the sake of passion" Q magazine "Indispensable, better than ever. Indispensable." The Independent
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In my early days of reading it, I felt that it did not possess the ability to justify its choices as well as Rolling Stone's guides did (though I now know I was fitting my own experiences to criticism too much) but quite quickly I found that I could learn a good deal about bands who were largely unknown to writers in Rolling Stone and even Q (which I first read in 1997). As a result, I began to take far more interest in "The Rough Guide", and over time I can say there is quite a bit to recommend it. Most especially is the amount of detail given to the critically-neglected genres of progressive rock and heavy metal, which fans of those genres will most definitely welcome and which should prove very valuable to those curious. I can in fact say this even with the omission of Slayer, one of the most important heavy metal groups, because the information on such bands as Pantera and Van der Graaf Generator is refreshing for fans or non-fans. Even for better-known bands like Genesis there is information that those without expertise on rock history are not likely to know. There are also interesting sections on bands from the late-1970s post-punk era and 1980s hardcore, which I had overlooked when I was first reading music criticism - though i will confess that they did not teach me much about genres my experience with violence had taught me to be suspicious of.
The problem with "The Rough Guide to Rock", however, is that too many bands of considerable significance are either ignored entirely or (more often) done far too poorly to be of value to somebody trying to re-consider (as I was when reading the book) the opinions on music I had acquired as a child listening in Melbourne suburbs cloistered from major musical trends. Such bands as the New Fast Automatic Daffodils are far too insignificant to be included in a book of even "The Rough Guide"'s considerable size. There are also far too many minor bands from the 1990s that were included, one would say, merely to be up-to-date. Another sign pointing towards "trendiness" is that again and again latter-day albums by bands beyond their prime are praised quite needlessly, for instance with Dylan. Joe S. Harrington and "janitor-x" do seem right in my experience that it is very rare for artists to produce their best work late in their career, even though some can definitely keep producing worthy work.
All in all, "The Rough Guide to Rock" can be described as a mixed bag. Its selections are biased unnecessarily towards Europe, which makes for some interesting choices but some that should never have been made, and its recommendations are of inconsistent value.
The editors have made some interesting choices, granting equal space to relatively unknown bands such as the X-Ray Specs as they did to The Eagles. This book is basically about bands "that mattered" and record sales don't really influence the amount of space granted to any individual act. The editors cheerfully admit that they didn't really get around to including the Moody Blues (I can't complain!) The perspective is pretty much what you'd appreciate and agree with if you are interested in Indie Rock and enjoy the Britisn NME rock magazine. I am, so I love it.
Furthermore, the book seems to be pitched to rock fans in their thirties: there is a wealth of entries on late 70s UK punk bands and their influences and American counterparts. If I were a few years younger, I don't know if I'd enjoy this book as much as I do.
The fact that a lot of it was collected from contributors to the Internet means that there is less of a geographical bias than might have been expected. There are several entries for 80s bands from New Zealand that would have made ripples in England (such as the Chills, the Clean, etc).
The book's only problems as far as I can see is that it's only one of a series of "Rough Guides". For example, there is no entry for Bob Marley, who presumably has been included in the companion volume on Reggae. They could have included some colour photographs, especially when dealing with album covers, but I suppose that'd jack up the price.
All in all a great, fun read if you're into that sort of thing and I'm sure I'll be dipping into it for a long time to come.
Indispensable for any serious rock music fan's library.