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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Suggested Reading: "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" - Various Authors (2006)

    1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die edited by Robert Dimery

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book does indeed cover 1001 albums. Whether or not you need to hear most of them before you die is a question that struck me immediately as I thumbed through it for the first time a few weeks ago when I picked it up at a Library book sale for a cool $1.00.

    Starting with the 1950's era and moving forward through the 2000's, 1001 albums are reviewd by a large ensemble of nearly 100 "leading international critics," according to the cover. There is a brief blurb about each contributor to the book so you know who wrote this stuff.

    Some of the albums, a good number really, ARE indeed essential listening for any fan of modern music. Modern here meaning stuff from the "rock and roll era" of the 1950's and forward. But you have your Elvises and Ray Charleses Johnny Cashes and Beatles and Rolling Stones and Bob Dylans...all the biggies are here. Deep Purple. Kiss. Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin. The Metal Gods are well represented. Queen and Abba. Disco divas. The folk rockers, the acid droppin' dope smokin' San Francisco rockers of the late 1960's. The smooth R&B guys and gals. 70's era Punks and gods of funk. Rappers and Alt rockers and several of the one-hit wonders from each generation that have somehow endured through the years.

    Then are are a few surprises - for me anyway - I didn't figure the New York Dolls made the list - but they did. And The Dictators too! Suicide? Yep, they're here. The Cramps...here. Motorhead? When did critics start paying attention to Motorhead? Sepultura. Napalm Death. It gets a bit strange when a band like Naplam Death or Venom(!) appears on a list like this - and it's a really good thing. It means this list really is broad in scope and very inclusive to all generes of rock and roll. So many projects like this are not nearly so inclusive and unbiased.

    But then there are quite a few albums included that just may be the thing that actually kills you if you dare listen to them...in my opinion.

    Britney Spears' 1999 "Baby One More Time" is on on page, turn the page and it's Metallica's "S&M". You can keep 'em both. Justin Timberlake. Madonna. Kid Rock. System Of A Down. Wu-Tang Clan. Michael and Janet Jackson. Pet Shop Boys. George Michael. George Jones. Buck Ownes. Lynyrd Skynyrd. The list is long and bad. Simply fucking Red? C'mon...who listens to that shit?

    But this is a great book for when you have 5 minutes to kill and need something to read. Not a book you sit down and read cover to cover - but if you do, hey, more power to you pal. One of those books you might keep handy in...say...your bathroom. Or on the coffee table in your living room so you look cultured when the guests arrive. Each album gets a nice description of from 1/3 page to a full page. Track listings are included for many, and nearly all listings feature the cover art from the album as well.

    "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" is entertaining and informative reading for the obsessive music lover who can never know enough about the world of music. Filled with thousands and thousands of little factoids and statistics to amuse and amaze your friends with. Definately a book to keep an eye open for when you're out at garage sales or browsing in thrift shops or used book stores - if you can find a copy for a few bucks (like maybe $5 or less) it's worth it.

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Suggested Reading: "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" - Various Authors (2006)

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