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on 4 January 2011
This was a surprise Christmas present for me, but a very welcome one. The soundtrack to Christmas evening therefore (once I got a chance to read some of the book) was murmurings of agreement, interspersed with 'you must be joking!' from time to time, as I assessed the suitability for inclusion of each song presented in the book. Of course, very few people are likely to agree with every entry in a book like this and it therefore provides a starting point for some debate.

However, the main reasons the book works for me lies in its' presentation - 1 or 2 songs to a page, a short piece of text for every song that provides some background and history, a picture of the record sleeve for many of the songs, and larger full page photos of selected featured artists. Also because the songs are listed chronologically, the earliest included song is Enrico Caruso's 'O sole mio' from 1916 and the latest being three selected tunes from 2010, the book provides a kind of history of popular music through much of the 20th Century and beyond albeit a naturally incomplete and rather selective one (by selective I mean the focus on hand-picked individual songs, not particularly selective in terms of the consideration of different genres of 'popular music', which I thought was quite reasonable).

At this point I have to be honest and say that I have never heard some of the songs featured although I was aware of their existence; whilst I was completely unaware of quite a few others prior to reading this book. But for me these were not negative points, and I fully intend to seek out quite a few of the 'unknown' songs.

The book concludes with a more comprehensive '10,001 songs you must hear' presented in list form only (alphabetically by artist). This list includes each of the top 1001 songs and notes the number of the page on which each song is featured, providing therefore an index for the main content of the book.

I would definitely recommend this book to all music fans.
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on 14 June 2011
Being a kid of the 60/70/80's I naturally have every song of those eras ingrained in my head, leaving little room for important stuff like grown-up work. I pounced on this book with glee and found many gems, plus countless songs I haven't heard but will try to find. Most of the latter are modern ...i.e post 1980's. The compilers of this haven't gone down the 'greatest hits' path, thank God. Nor have they gone for anorak stuff that only 1% of the population will recognise. They walk the tightrope between pop and rock, punk and prog with aplomb. I was equally delighted to find 'Wonderous Stories' (Yes) as I was with 'Gloria' (Patti Smith). Duffy, REM, Stones, the Who, Waterboys, all good stuff. And for New Zealanders, Weather with you' (Crowded House) and curiously Pokarekare. Of course I would have picked different songs from a few of my favouriate artists like Springsteen, Green Day or Beatles but that doesn't matter. Summing up? I only review books on here that I reccomend you buy. This is a book for dipping into, not reading cover to cover (it's too weighty a tome for that anyway). And those 60's and 70's songs...groovy man!
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on 29 December 2010
If you'd like to learn something about modern music through all the genres without getting bored, THIS is the book for you!
Good criticism, nice layout, and remarkable affectedness in the tons of hits proposed in all this book (even the ones listed in the final 10'001 songs).
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on 28 September 2010
Sure, there are a few things you might disagree with, but that is the nature of such books.

This book, YouTube and I will be spending many evenings together.
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on 16 September 2011
This is the sort of book I like to look at and see how many of the songs I have actually heard! I found that I had heard the majority in the 50's and 60's but as the years went on, I'd heard less and less! I enjoyed reading the background to the songs and was surprised with some of the stories. I found some of his choices strange, but was pleased to see 'Sally go round the roses' by the Jaynettes. I bought this in the 60's and loved it. If you want a book to relive your younger days, musically, then this is the book to buy.
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on 15 January 2014
Got the book for Christmas and was delighted, there is some brilliant stuff in there that I didn't know and that has been fantastic discovering. Much of what I do know I thoroughly agree with being in this book, especially taking into account they are aiming to cover a wide range of styles.

That being said, I do have some criticism of the list, or at the very least inconsistencies.

Taking into account the very fact they are sourcing from all types of especially Western popular musical tradition (featuring quite a bit of punk, reggae, hip-hop, hard rock, disco, etc.) there is a glaring hole in the middle of progressive rock's representation in the list. The tracks from the major "prog" bands listed are relatively commercial and not necessarily the best examples of their style of music nor their most influential and rated work. Either Yes's "Close To The Edge" or Genesis' "Supper's Ready", between them the zenith of progressive rock, should have been in the list. Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 1)" arguably as well.

In other artists they sometimes seem to shy away from the obvious tracks and select some more obscure album tracks, like in the case of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927", a song I would hesitate to select on a Randy Newman compilation, which is selected above his essential "Rednecks".
Frank Zappa's selected entry is also a strange choice, as much of his other music has been infinitely more influential and ground-breaking.
Most glaringly perhaps, Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy In New York" selected in favour of one of the absolute must-includes in even a much-reduced list ("Bridge Over Troubled Water" itself), does appear to make a little bit of a mockery of the selection criteria. Perhaps the reader is expected to know above mentioned classic already (the reason for which perhaps "Yesterday" didn't make the list)? Then why include "Hound Dog" or "Thriller" - it leaves me confused as to what the criteria are then?

On top of that there are some artists missing that should have made the list, speaking as objectively as I can: Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" or "Amorok", Tangerine Dream's seminal "Rubycon", Chicago (any of a selection of work from 1969 to 1974), Billy Joel, Supertramp (almost anything from their "Crime of the Century" album would have fitted well), Santana, Tim Hardin (I was surprised he wasn't in the 1001 list, and flabbergasted at his absence in the extended list in the back), Jackson Browne, commercial pop-rock bands like Toto, Survivor, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Gerry Rafferty not even in the extended list of 10,101 songs at the back is baffling!

And I don't think lack of space in a relatively small list of 1,001 songs is the reason, as they saw space for example for the non-essential "Where The Wild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, a minor chart hit that would not have changed an iota of pop history.

All in all, the selected panel have included a wide range of artists which is great but I still see too much from what their individual influences have been, and it is clear some types of music are perhaps over-represented and other types under-represented, or misrepresented.

A very enjoyable list nevertheless.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 December 2015
Looking for something new to listen to on Spotify? Keen to broaden you're musical tastes? Searching for a good Christmas present for that music fanatic in your life? -- '1001 Songs: You Must Hear Before You Die' ticks all of those boxes.

This mammoth paperback was first published back in 2010, but my edition is the last-year reprint of the 2013 version. It's a beautiful book, and contains some excellent black-and-white/colour pictures of some of the artistes featured on it's glossy style paper.

The list is presented in chronological order, racing through many a decade, beginning with 'O sole mio' by Enrico Caruso in 1916, and finishing in 2013 with David Bowie's 'Where Are We Know?', with just about every kind of musical style you can think of in between.

Typically, the songs are either presented in twos and threes on one page in a singular column, often with the original record sleeve printed alongside it, but others have an entire page devoted to them, with a fact-box about the track accompanying the review by a music expert. This type of write-up, a combination of background information and critical opinion, is something which every song in here does have.

Whilst lots of the inclusions are household name tracks, from artists as well-known in the mainstream fields as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and Queen, there are plenty of little-known gems and obscurities which aren't so largely heard. Of course, no book, even one of this size, can't please everybody and have every single song reviewed than every single person believes should be here, that would be impossible, but I do truly believe this to be a mostly excellent choice of songs to recommend to other people. There is even a useful, alphabetic index presented at the back, which lists many other songs that the compilers also consider worthy, other than the 1001 which are already profiled, so your other favourites might be included yet.

As well as being a great way to discover more great music, '1001 Songs: You Must Hear Before You Die' also tells the fascinating stories behind all these songs, and it makes for a great read for a music fan. If I had received this book as a present, I would have been delighted.
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on 25 June 2015
Brilliant book - wish I'd bought it before. I think the vast majority of the songs are on Spotify (other streaming services are available), so you can read an entry then listen to the song. I like to search for the lyrics, too, whilst listening to the track. Am working through it chronologically, listening to a couple of songs a night; it's a little slow going, but I look forward with childish enthusiasm to see what song is next. I have made my way through the 20s, 30s and 40s, and am currently in 1957, and have discovered a number of artists that I didn't know, and who I really like. I've also learnt a lot more about artists I was only dimly aware of before. I'm sure you could also just dip in and out of this book and still enjoy it - there's no need to read it chronologically; that's just what I chose to do, to see the historical progression.

If you like music, and would like to learn more about the songs and the artists, then you really ought to buy this book. It's bound to help out on the music round at a pub quiz, too :-)
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on 3 October 2015
I bought this for myself but my sister was there when I opened the package and just fell in love with this book! What could I do? I will have to buy myself another one! Great selection with information about every chosen song. Do not hesitate! Its a great idea and a fab present for anyone.
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on 7 March 2014
The dear lady wife Dorothy has found out that I have been having an affair with a better proportioned woman next door. After an incident with the bread knife, I have only got hours to live. Can someone please suggest maybe 10 or 15 songs that i need to download before I meet my maker (or old nick himself) ?
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