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The Rough Guide to Rock Paperback – 30 Oct 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1232 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides; 3rd Revised edition edition (30 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843531054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843531050
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 4.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 960,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


The Rough Guide to Rock is an unusual book: it is written by the people who know the music best - fans, rather than professional critics - and its huge number of contributors (see page opposite) means that it is based upon mutiple lifetimes of interest, experience and enthusiasm. Which is not to say that you'll find articles of slavish devotion in the pages following. When the music turns to dust, our writers say so as fervently as they champion the triumphs.

The book is unusual, too, in its relation to the Internet. The first edition (1996) was commissioned partly from adverts in the press and partly through the Net, where we posted entries as a work-in-progress. This new (1999) edition has been developed almost entirely on and through the Net and, as the project has grown more interactive, fans, and often the artists themselves, have contributed updates and corrections, and fought their corners for the inclusion of neglected or forgotten bands.

Like everyone else who's ever done a rock book, or a rock magazine, we found ourselves locked right from square one in the 'But Is It Rock?' debate. Sure, we all had the same basic idea of what constitutes the term (noisy, guitar-based stuff, in the main, from America and Britain), but, as the decades have rolled on, the edges have become ever more blurred. We wanted a book with its feet firmly in the present, that gave at least as much space to indie/alternative groups as to the MTV/radio establishment. But we also wanted a book that reflected rock's history, and might introduce new audiences to enduring or seminal figures from decades past. So we made decisions to include key rock'n'roll, R&B, Motown and soul musicians - people who retain an influence in the rock world. And we decided to fade in and out of hip-hop, rap, dance, techno and country areas, again focusing on bands exerting a rock influence or with a rock audience. Given the constraints of space, we opted to exclude 'world music' and reggae: a rare, easy decision, as we have separate books on both. Oh, and we broke all of our rules just whenever it seemed appropriate. Which was basically when our burgeoning roster of authors sent us pieces that fired up our enthusiasm.

It's for that reason that you'll find surprising choices in this book. There are not too many other rock books that include pieces on To Rococo Rot or Slapp Happy alongside Slade, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Smokey Robinson and Neil Young. Still, their proponents made them sound interesting enough for us to feature, and we hope some of you will feel moved to check them out. We hope, too, that readers of the previous edition will enjoy discovering the 200 or so completely new entries in this book. We've re-evaluated a whole bunch of stuff - we're still wondering how we managed to print a rock book without Run-D.M.C. or The Monks - and, driven by a barrage of email, have welcomed into the fold some of the rockier 'electronica' acts, the stompier 1970s glitter-pop acts, and even a drop more Gothic rock (we're suckers for entries that arrive written in blood).

Our roster of bands now nudges the 1400 mark - even more if you include the 'what happened next' bands covered in many of the articles. There's always room for more online but, to keep the book a manageable size and weight and price, and to cram all this juicy new material into the guide, we've had to make a few cuts and harsh editorial decisions - so, gosh darn it, there's still no room for the Electric Light Orchestra or Moody Blues. If you are outraged by this or any other of our exclusions, don't scowl at the book: write to us, send us (or email) an account that stakes the claim for a band, and we'll let you know what we think. We've set up this project with a deliberately democratic brief, and we'll be issuing another edition before the next Millennium is very old. In the meantime, of course, we hope to see you on the Net

A note on THE Structure and ICONS

The individual entries in the guide are arranged alphabetically by band or artist, while further bands and artists (especially solo careers of key personnel) are discussed at the end of the main accounts. For an index of all bands and artists discussed at any length, turn to the Directory of Bands and Artists that begins on page 1132. Within the entries, you'll notice groups and individuals in THIS FONT, which means there's an individual entry on them which can be referred to for more detail.

The discographies at the end of each entry are listed in order of their recording dates, and the title of each disc is followed, in brackets, by the date of the original recording and the current label. Each disc is preceded by a symbol: c for an album on CD, r for one that's still only issued on vinyl. To make sense of the quantity of discs, we've been selective: the number of album recommendations are to some extent a reflection of status, though with younger bands and artists we've often included reviews of everything to date. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 8 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
The cover puff for this book claims that it is 'intended for browsing and arguments - but also as a highly practical guide to rock music' And for once, this is a very accurate description of this 1000 plus page work. The Rough Guide to Rock is excellent on two levels; both as a guide to bands and their discographies, but also as a general repository of trivia which bears many hours of dipping in and out. Whether you open the Guide to find a specific piece of information, simply fancy a casual browse, or are trying to settle some esoteric dispute about some long-forgotten band or song, the chances are you will start off by looking up one entry, then find yourself drawn by cross references to other entries, which in turn will lead to further browsing until, by the time you have put the Guide down, you find you have revisited a substantial portion of your musical history.
Those of us who should get out more are inevitably drawn into an exercise of trying to find bands that have been omitted; ultimately a fairly unrewarding exercise, so comprehensive is the Guide. In any case, such efforts usually end fairly abruptly as the eye is drawn to yet another entry you want to read up on.
The Rough Guide to Rock is written by fans, and it is the enthusiasm of the fans which makes this such a rewarding book. Inevitably the entries are a bit uneven in terms of length and detail, but the editors have done an excellent job of achieving a good degree of consistency overall. The entries are grouped alphabetically by band rather than chronologically or by record, which makes the Guide very easy to navigate around, and it should be commended to anyone who has ever had an interest in rock and pop music which went beyond a vague awareness of who was top of the charts.
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Format: Paperback
The third and, presumably, final edition of The Rough Guide to Rock is already a little dated. But then why would you need another description of Duffy's album or Amy Winehouse's hairdo? The Guide is an excellent place to stumble across records that have been forgotten or were always obscure. I had never realised that David McComb made a solo album, for example - and who or what were Danielle Dax or Eg and Alice? When you look these things up you find an entry written by a fan, someone who has not just done his research by forcing himself to listen to all the albums of Judas Priest while doing the washing up but genuinely loves Judas Priest and wants you to love them, too! That said, he will still tell you honestly when he thinks Judas Priest underachieved. There are times, of course, when you find yourself disagreeing violently with an opinion. Can anyone really think that Springsteen's The River is full of 'weak ballads'? But because it is written by people who have some personal involvement in the material and not by some weary and embittered old hack, the tone of this Guide never descends to that of the dreadful Time Out film guides, for example, with all their supercilious snarliness.

The Guide gives no indepth study of punk or heavy metal, of course - that is why it has been discontinued in favour of the individual genre guides. But for someone who listens to music without thinking too much of genre boundaries, who is as likely to put on a Stevie Wonder lp as something by the Go-Betweens, this is a great book to have in your shelves. Keep scanning the thrift shops!
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Format: Paperback
I'm really somewhat disappointed by the editorial direction that this third edition of the 'Rough Guide to Rock' has taken, though arguably, in this shift, it has actually moved closer to its remit than that pursued by previous editions. For this edition, the editor has narrowed the definition of 'rock' considerably, which has meant the jettisoning of many of the bands and artists who were included in previous editions, but who were really only 'rock' in the sense that 'rock' is sometimes used to denote 'popular music' as opposed to a guitar-based stream of music within popular music. This shift makes this third edition perhaps more authentic to its title, but also means that it is a much more one-dimensional read. I used to happily browse previous editions of the 'Rough Guide to Rock', intrigued by what leafing through those pages offered. Now, because of its lack of diversity, I fear I'll be using this edition in a rather dry fashion simply as a reference book to answer enquiries.
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A comprehensive encyclopedia of rock that, despite being written by fans, is literate, amusing and generally tasteful. Takes the core Rough Guides values of involvement and honesty and applies them to the rock world, so isn't afraid to admit when artists made awful albums, or tried ludicrous projects. Covers over 1000 bands in about as many pages, so is far from being the last word on any of them (most entries are about half a page, with some more significant acts getting up to 2 or 3 pages). No full discographies -- the recommendations cherrypick carefully and are usually pretty much spot on.
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I bought this on the strength of some reviews. I have been buying and listening to rock music since I bought my 1st record Not Fade Away by The Rolling Stones and I have an LP collection spanning that year until now, though the bulk is from the 60's & 70's. This book lacks detail on several levels.It's as if the contributors do not have an in - depth knowledge.
There is no mention, for example, of Manfred Mann who were as significant as The Small Faces, who are included. Thus, no mention either of Manfred Man Chapter Three, who made 2 important jazz - rock LPs. The T. T.Rex/Marc Bolan does not recommend any of the Tyrannosaurus Rex LPs despite the fact that both Beard Of Stars and Unicorn are classic LPs of their era.
Jerry Gracia of The Grateful Dead is mentioned but no mention of Bob Weir's solo
work - his 1st LP is better than anything Garcia produced as was his 1st LP with
Kingfish. The same is true of Jack Bruce from Cream (his Songs For A Tailor LP is better than almost all of Clapton's output) and Ginger Baker who was important in promoting African music and made one decent LP with Airforce.Likewise Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue is not properly acknowledged (The Beach Boys). Many significant "underground" bands from the UK late 60s/early 70s period are ignored at the expense of decidely "iffy" US bands who made one half good LP then disappeared. No Spooky Tooth/Third Ear Band/Quintessence/Principal Edwards Magic Theatre/Comus/Titus Groan/Touch/Gracious/Audience references who all made better music than a significant number of the acts mentioned. Some significant sole artists are omitted who came under the rock umbrella such as Mike Cooper. One can only assume many of the people who emailed in have not even heard of them ?
Patch is the adjective I would use. There are better books of this type such as the 1001 Albums You Must Hear.
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