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.