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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 March 2012
Tom Moon's remarkable book reviews 1000 important recordings across a wide variety of musical genres. The entries are arranged alphabetically which results in startling juxtapositions such as avant-garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor followed by singer-songwriter James Taylor and Russian composer Tchaikovsky! This method breaks down musical barriers and helps draw attention to musical treasures that might otherwise have been ignored.In fact it's impossible to browse through this book without coming across lesser-known recordings that simply must be heard.
Of course, it's possible to argue about surprising omissions and inclusions but this fascinating book should broaden the musical horizons of anyone who reads it.
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on 5 November 2010
These two books seem to cover much the same ground, but in fact they're quite different - and one is vastly superior to the other.

Advantages of "1000 Recordings..."

*It is not restricted to rock and pop. Blues, classical, 'world' and jazz are all covered far better than on 1001 Albums.
*By not being limited to 'albums' it allows the inclusion of individual songs and classical pieces. Eddie Cochran never had a great album, but Summertime Blues is clearly something you need to hear before you die.
*It doesn't have a Bob Dylan obsession.
*It restricts itself to one album per artist, with a 'further listening' section for you to jump off from if you want to go deeper.

Advantages of "1001 Albums..."
*Better for people who think that music started with The Beatles' influences and finishes with the bands they inspired. But if you want to delve into 1000 albums, why not veer away from your comfort zone a little?

Many reviewers have quibbled about the inclusion or omission of an album. But if your favourite album isn't included, that's one more space for something else you don't know! These books don't claim to be the 'best' albums, nor are they the 'only' albums you should hear.
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on 23 January 2009
A book of this kind is bound to elicit cries of "why on earth did you miss out such and such an artist/album", so I make no apologies for throwing in my penny's worth.

I was looking forward to getting my hands on this book as I am on a real mission at the moment to explore new stuff, and I had a feeling the book might be a good place to start. Have no doubt about it, this brick-like publication IS a stimulating and handy tome, and one which I am sure is meticulously well researched. It's obviously going to come in handy and I am grateful to have it.

However, some of the author's omissions of albums which quite simply ARE either utterly vital cornerstones of modern music, or just plain great records beloved the world over, which everyone should hear once before they die, leads me to wonder what else he's left out within the genres of which I am somewhat ignorant.

It looks to me that while Moon has a huge passion for jazz, classical, blues, American rock, World Music and certain classic British rock acts, he has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to vast swathes of important UK alternative/electronic/indie music. As a concrete example, here is just a short list of some of the artists/records that get no mention at all: Low and Heroes by David Bowie (yes, you read that right, no Low or Heroes in a book which is claiming to be a definitive guide to vital and great recordings!), no Metal Box by PiL (or indeed any other album by that crucial band), nothing by a whole raft of influential post-punk bands (Scritti Politti, Orange Juice, Soft Cell - how can he overlook Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret??), no Wire (Pink Flag?!? Where is it?!?!) nothing from The Fall, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, Lloyd Cole, OMD, The La's, The The (Soul Mining?!?) Fun Boy Three. Are you detecting a pattern here? Even New Order's Technique doesn't get a look in.

It's not just the post-punk stuff either. There's no Madness (Rise and Fall?), no Frankie Goes To Hollywood, NO IAN DURY (!!). There are also major, major omissions in the dance field - nothing by Orbital or Underworld, nothing by Leftfield. Oh, The Prodigy do get an entry, but of course, it's for Fat Of The Land, the band's breakthrough number one American album.

For a while I thought it was maybe just my imagination telling me that the book has a definite (as far as rock and pop is concerned) US bias, but the more I delve into it, the more sure I am the author's tastes lean far more States-ward than they do towards the UK, and that this has inevitably clouded/coloured his judgement. I mean, OK, you can get away with including no recordings by either Supergrass or Super Furry Animals in your top 1000 (even though both have recorded, in their time, some truly fantastic and timeless guitar based pop music), but if you're going to leave them out, then do me a favour, leave out Ryan Adams too would you?! And, if you're going to include The Roots, how about a passing nod to Roots Manuva?

As well as ignoring many classic British acts, Moon on a broader level does seem to prefer older music to new stuff. While contemporary acts are certainly not absent from the books' pages, you have to dig a little to find them, whereas there seems to be endless consecutive pages of old blues, jazz, classical and early Americana. In some ways, I can see the logic here - older music after all has had time to make its mark and show its staying power, outlasting all the ephemera out there. But then Moon will suddenly come out of nowhere with some arbitrary proclamation that a particular (US, naturally) contemporary work (eg. Arcade Fire's somewhat blustery and tiresome Neon Bible) is "The First Rock Masterpiece Of The New Millenium" - a classic, unsubstantiated rock critic pronouncement which seeks to create long-term history and heritage out of what is essentially a flavour-of-the-month album by a flavour-of-the-month band. Let's give it a bit of time shall we, and see if this particular record ages as well over time as older (and ignored, by Moon) albums by Tindersticks, The Beta Band and The Eels.

Now, don't get me wrong, I fully understand that books of this kind have to be subjective, and that some of your favourtie artists are always going to be left out. And I wouldn't like to give the impression that Moon leaves out all interesting new music, or alternative British stuff in particular (Joy Division, Portishead, Chemical Brothers, The Streets and even Dizzee Rascal are all present and correct). But when music of the calibre, clear quality and historical significance of Metal Box, Soul Mining, Sreamadelica and Pink Flag get left out in favour of albums by Norah Jones (for example), you do slightly begin to wonder where the author is coming from.

My other slight gripe about the book is the way the Moon frequently chooses the most crashingly obvious records by the famous acts. Dark Side of The Moon anybody? A Night At The Opera? Revolver? I mean, surely anyone who has not heard these albums by now must have gone out of their way not to, and so are unlikely to be tempted to go and check them out now?

Instead of always plumbing for the big, breakthrough album (The Flaming Lips's Soft Bulletin over their noisier and more challenging Clouds Taste Metallic, AC/DC's Mutt Lange-tooled stadium monster Back In Black over the barn-storming, rebel-rousing Powerage), why not spotlight a slightly more obscure but equally (if not more) worthy album which the glossy music mags HAVEN'T already told us to go out and buy a hundred times before?

Phew (towel myself off).
Despite all these reservations, as I said at the beginning, this IS clearly going to be an invaluable companion in my search for new stuff, although (to end on a completely personal note) I could probably have done without 70% of the classical recommendations ( of which there are very many - how many genuine classical buffs are going to bother with a book of this kind, with its extensive tracts of rock, blues, country and soul anyway?). Particularly if that had left more room for albums by all the great alternative British UK pop artists he's left out!
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2009
Yet another book of musical recommendations, this one has the merit of trawling wider most - and if you have broad tastes in music then you will surely find something of interest here. I like the fact that music as diverse as ABBA, Beethoven, John Coltrane, Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin can all feel at home and equally valued under one cover. The actual reviews are quite informative and interesting, although I don't think this book is as well-written or attractive as "1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die." The solution? Own both of them and you'll have perhaps the most comprehensive list of suggestions available at the moment in terms of widening your musical horizons. Tom Moon's website (mentioned in the book) - is a worthy companion to the book itself.
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on 3 January 2010
This book was bought as a present but I couldnt resist carefuly flicking through it before it was wrapped. Once opened, there was nobody who didnt get pleasure from it including a teenage family friend who for the first time in his life requested that his parents buy a book for him as a gift!
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