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Spin Alternative Record Guide Paperback – October 10, 1995

3.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A guide to the world of alternative music in all its variety and weirdness, from the earliest influences to the latest bands. Provides in-depth and informative record reviews and discussions of such phenomena as the New Zealand sound, alternative hip-hop, and the secret history of women in punk. The book also includes a sure-to-be controversial listing of what they consider to be the top 100 alternative albums of all time, and top-ten lists from such artists as Joey Ramone and Kurt Bloch. Despite some questionable additions (Cindi Lauper?) and glaring omissions (where is Game Theory?), it remains an indispensable guide.

From Library Journal

So much of the popular music released these days is billed as "alternative" that it's tough to locate the mainstream without really looking. The proliferation of these alternatives notwithstanding, this guide fills a gap in the literature of modern music. Where else are you going to find the complete discographies of Trobbing Gristle and Jonathan Richman under the same cover? Maybe in the Rolling Stone Album Guide (Random, 1992), but not with the length and scope of the reviews provided by the 64 contributors to this volume. Each entry includes a complete discography, and each release is rated on a scale of one to ten. The hip writing is geared toward those in the know, and the authors themselves are knowledgeable. Entries are interspersed with top-ten album lists from various artists and photographs of album covers. An appendix offers a list of the top 100 alternative albums of all time, and a mercifully short essay on the nature of alternative music outlines the principles of the category: "antigenerationally dystopian, subculturally presuming fragmentation ...built on an often neurotic discomfort over massified and commodified culture." Though 99 percent of those who check out this volume won't be able to offer anything close to a dictionary definition of "dystopian," they'll probably think it's a pretty cool book. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. (Index not seen.)?Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (October 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679755748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679755746
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful guide to bands and artists deemed "alternative" by the editors of Spin magazine--The book's forward provides the best definition I've read/heard of the alternative genre, and it includes such diverse acts as Abba and Kronos Quartet. My high school library had a copy of it, and I think I had it checked out for the majority of my four years there. The library at my college doesn't have it, and I've considered buying it, but it's already become pretty dated since its publication in 1995. There is no mention of Tricky, Portishead, or Radiohead; Debut is the only one of Bjork's solo albums in the book; they even say something like "What will Natalie Merchant be doing now that 10,000 Maniacs have broken up?" It's a wonderful authority on musicians like Neil Young and David Bowie, whose discographies can be intimidating to a relative young 'un like me. There's also a great piece on PJ Harvey, whom I will consider underrated until there are VH1 tribute concerts in her honor. Anyway, if you're interested, check out the Northfield High School library.
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Format: Paperback
This book changed my life. It introduced me to so much great music. It's mostly out of date, but I still consult it. Sure, you won't agree with everything. There's 90s fad stuff that make me cringe now. (Personal problems: Moby? Beck? Unlistenable. And why are the early Wire and Can albums rated so low? Hello! Detroit Techno!) But there's still good stuff in there that will get you looking in new directions. Nuggets, No Wave, Nico, the massive discographies of Bill Laswell, Lou Reed, Sun Ra...it's all still good.
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By A Customer on December 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Probably the best and quickest way to become a record trainspotter. brilliant book only let down by its (massive) american bias: singles going steady by the buzzcocks at number 17 in its top 100 albums of all time is the hirest ranked british record and the sex pistols are at number 100 - will this bitter jealousy ever end?
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Format: Paperback
The writers and their individual styles and personalities are as much the star here as the artists themselves. Smart, irreverent, witty, playful. Many hilarious bon mots and aphorisms. While the Trouser Press guide is more thorough and features equally good writing, this one is slightly more fun. I like how the editors define "alternative" as a critical lens, an interpretative process, rather than a clearly defined genre of music. This leads to an incredible mashup of disparate artists ranging across the full breadth of the cultural landscape, from the sixties avant gardists to the fluffiest of pop stars. I would love to see a revised edition that further elaborated on the musical rivulets defined in this volume.
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Format: Paperback
My copy of this guide is literally falling apart--the pages are spilling out. And that is because I have read so many entries over and over and over again. I have about 10 record (yeah, records dude!!) guides and this is probably my favorite. It presents an alternative landscape that is rich in possibility, thickly textured, and, when needed, as primal (and essential) as any Stooges riff. It was written in 1994 (I think) so a lot has happened since, but I still think it is essential reading for anyone deeply interested in rock. I found out about Can from this book, and the Minutemen (OK I'd already heard about the Minutemen but knew almost nothing about them!), and Lee Scratch Perry. I'm still finding new things I missed--the X/Flesheaters connection--and exploring new sounds thanks to this guide. And the writing is excellent--no "this band is Bob Dylan meets Bob Marley on acid" sort of dreck that most rock mags peddle now. Find it and then read it from cover to cover--your life might never be the same!
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Format: Paperback
Ok this came out a while ago. Ok it is incomplete but at least teh reviews are quite complete and tend to be well written. It actually speaks well for the magazine that was not that good that they could provide such a tome as this. OK some bands have been omitted but the overall quuality of the writing allows you to get a good idea of alternative music 10 years ago.
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By A Customer on September 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Since SPIN's inception back in May of 1985 (judging from what I have seen in the magazine from their early era-- I'll admit that it is a limited knowledge), it has come across as an odd mish mash of Alternative Press, Newsweek and Teen People, lately increasingly favoring the last of the three over the other two, replacing political agenda and rather interesting articles on consumer culture et al. (as seen in 1992-1994 era SPIN) with more fashion-centric writing and an increasingly large number of deconstructionist articles on pop stars who, evidently, don't have a lot to deconstruct. So an adverse effect to the Alternative Record Guide is the fact that when it was released (1995, correct?) was at the precise moment that SPIN was shifting it's modus operandi to favor bigger names, and less political writing, I suppose as a way to genuinely reflect the times, as the late 80's and early 90's were, admittedly, more turbulent (although, possibly just in retrospect) than now. So it's no surprise that the bands included in the Alternative Record Guide include nostalgia pieces about how those 80's ultra-pop groups maybe weren't so bad, as well as throwbacks to SPIN's articles on the indie-era bands of the early 90's(Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., Guided By Voices, Halo of Flies, Pavement) and more deconstrustions of pop stars that really aren't that interesting. I would have to say that the Record Guide remains true to it's manifesto in the beginning concerning only the influential or in some other way, culturally aware- and affecting- bands. An interesting read, but SPIN can never claim to be an "alternative" if they are constantly meeting the pop world 1/3 of the way-- example: the 1989 cover, including stories on Tom Petty (!), Dinosaur Jr., Biker Metal (!!Read more ›
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