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on 30 December 2006
A quick gander at my music collection reveals numerous artists I found through previous versions of this book. It was rightly entitled "Great Rock Discography" thanks to exhaustive track listings, expansive comments and the author's personal scores for albums. This "Essential Rock Discography" is the eighth edition and it retains his distinctive approach whilst making improvements to the overall appearance of the book.

All this is good, but the word "Essential" belies a hatchet job. Over 400 entries have been hacked from the previous edition to create a purer "rock" category. It seems that all remaining Jazz and Blues artists and much of Rap, Dance, Folk and Country have been excised, even if the artist concerned was also a rock musician. Rock and Roll stems from Blues and Country and many artists are influenced by genres outside of rock. So, for me, a more inclusive approach would be appropriate. Pre-Beatles Rock is very poorly represented here and greater emphasis has been placed on keeping things "contemporary" which is not necessarily of great import for music collectors. I fear the only reasoning behind this is the intention to increase the frequency of new editions to generate more income.

Why remove entries for many of the architects of the music we know today? Quite apart from the great blues artists we have also lost Bo Diddley, Dick Dale, Woody Guthrie, the Last Poets, Hank Williams and Duane Eddy all of whom are likely to be more significant than the latest NME-hyped band. And more recent innovators like Aphex Twin, DJ Shadow and Talk Talk are also given the axe. The author seems to have taken a particular dislike to 90's Brits (Cast, Catatonia, Elastica, Lush, Mansun, Ride, Space), to folk rock (Robyn Hitchcock, Fred Neil, Strawbs, Loudon Wainwright III), to progressive rock (Camel, Caravan, Gong, Lindisfarne, Soft Machine) and to pub rock (Brinsley Schwarz, Dr. Feelgood, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker) despite its importance to British punk. We must also bid farewell to megasellers Asia, Chicago, Phil Collins, Tom Jones, the Dave Matthews Band, George Michael and Styx. Whether one likes them or not, they have been a big deal for many record-buyers.

But the most notable victims are the women. Dozens of significant artists have been exiled including Joan Armatrading, Enya, K.D. Lang, Kirsty MacColl, Alison Moyet, Ms. Dynamite, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O'Connor, Linda Rondstadt, Dusty Springfield and the Shangri-La's. The net effect of all this is to create something akin to the stereotypical white male 40-something CD collection with all the more obvious and British music press-approved artists. Worthy, yes, but also rather sterile.

That said, I don't know of any work in this field which does such a comprehensive job with each artist and would recommend it to those who did not buy a previous edition. If only Canongate could get a team of like-minded amateur discographers to work together and take the pressure off Mr Strong. What we have here is still in a class of its own but it's not what it was.
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on 24 October 2014
It's obvious that a great deal of research went into this book, but it is badly let down by a few things:

1. As another reviewer points out, this streamlined version of what was once The Great Rock Discography no longer includes artists such as Gong, Talk Talk, Kirsty MacColl or even Abba, so it's much less comprehensive than you might have hoped, despite stretching across 1,250 pages. Yet space was somehow found for The Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, Keane, The Killers, The Kooks, Korn, Lenny Kravitz, and so on.

2. It's in desperate need of proof-reader:

- The commas and apostropes are all over the place - for example: 'you're answers please on the back of a postage stamp' (p.472), 'This Years Model' (p.243), etc

- There are silly typos such as 'the The Smiths' (p.996) and spelling errors such as 'punk sterotypes' (p.388) and 'Blur mainman Damon Alborn' (p.605)

- There are factual errors: Morrissey's book was called James Dean is Not Dead, not 'James Dean Isn't Dead' (p.996). The Fall's Levitate album was released in September 1997, not February 1998 (p.393). And in the same entry, keyboard player Marcia Schofield has been renamed 'Marsha Schofield' (p.390).

If these mistakes can be found on a first glance through the pages, then what else is incorrect? The usefulness of a reference work of this kind depends on you being able to trust the information it offers.

3. By the end of the book, the printing has gone askew. The last few pages have been sliced in such a way that text is right up against the edge of the page and very difficult to read. On p.1,153, the caption 'Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground' is also sliced off midway through the text. It may just be my copy, of course, but I'd still suggest you check before buying.

4. The artist biographies are deliberately subjective and opinionated, which can be entertaining, but the excessive exclamation marks make some of the entries tiresome. And some are a little simplistic: there's way more to Nico than 'an avante-garde, moody songstress' (p.757).

These might sound like fussy points, but after all the effort that went into this it's a real shame that a potentially invaluable reference book is undermined by things that might easily have been fixed. Maybe the next edition?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 March 2007
The problem with all books of this kind is that more often than not they contain a fair few inaccuracies and therefore cannot be relied upon entirely. This book also suffers in this way and there are quite a few instancies where b sides are listed incorrectly, or songs are listed as cover versions when they were in fact band originals. An example of this being where Strong claims that The Cars covered The Buddy Holly songs 'Think It Over' and 'Maybe Baby' on their 'Shake It Up' album. In fact, both tracks were written by Ric Ocasek. All this aside however, to compile a work of this size in itself is a great achievement and the book, apart from being a useful reference tool, is also a cracking read. I actually like the fact that Strong is prepared to state his own opinions and regardless whether I agree with them or not the authors comments show him to be a true music fanatic and good on him for that I say! So, in summing up, don't accept every word in this book as the definitive truth but buy it anyway as it's sure to take you on a voyage of discovery and can be a very useful tool if you suddenly discover new artists and want to find out about their past releases.
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on 18 June 2001
Once again, Strong has missed a golden opportunity to put together a really excellent, indispensible piece of work. He still lets his own opinions get in the way of the facts - unforgivable in what is meant to be a work of reference. Also, despite being Scottish myself, I really have to say there are far too many Scottish acts in here who really don't merit the attention. I also can't agree with the earlier reviewer regarding the practice of referring readers to earlier editions of the book. At this price, not everyone will buy every edition, and it is very frustrating when the precise information you need is not included in the new edition. This practice also alienates new readers - can you imagine buying a dictionary which refers you to earlier editions for the meaning of a word ?
I am trying not to be too negative, because I want Strong to get it right - he is nearly there - a decent editor would really help!!
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on 30 November 2000
I had been looking for a book like this for many years and was overwhelmed when I first picked it up in the shop. An hour later and I was still reading it and just had to buy it!! Now this book has enlightened me as to what CD to buy for any band worth listening to (even bands I had never heard of!) The information is so well set out and easy to digest with every album & single released by the included artists. Great for newbies who would like to purchase some of the "Classic" albums of all time, just look for the 10/10 ratings and you will not be disapointed. The hardback is a bit weighty and cumbersome but worth it never the less. Just one complaint......nothing on the great man himself Frank Sinatra!!
Well worth the asking price, a must for all music enthusiasts
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on 4 January 2016
I was drawn like a magnet to this tome when it first went on sale back in 2000. The lure of the writing on the front cover mentioning "Complete discogs listing every track recorded by more than 1000 groups" was an offer I could not refuse, so after having a quick look inside, I just had to have it. I guess I was a bit harsh when I reviewed Martin C Strong's metal discog. Had every reason to cos he made a right balls up of it; and wondered about the glaring omissions from the psych one; but with the Great Rock Discography, you just cannot find fault with it. You don't just get the approximate month/year a recording was released; you get a complete track listing and US/UK catalogue no's too. In addition to all sorts of trivia like line up changes and the D.O.Bs of many of the musicians listed. Prior to my "discovery" of this book, I had never come across a music reference publication like it before.
As for the acts listed in the book. I know the term "rock" has generally applied to most popular music's from the post rock & roll period onwards; but the inclusion of some pre-rock blues acts like Leadbelly and Robert Johnson is for a good reason. mainly cos of the pivotal influence those acts, and other blues artists listed in the tome (Like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker for example) had on many of the rock groups that were to follow.
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on 4 December 2013
Having bought one of the earliest editions, as well as one of the last, there is always disappointment that some favourites have disappeared and been replaced by newer, lesser bands. Even so, each entry is informative, offering some interesting detail about every artist that you wouldn't know. It has full album listings and ratings, personnel and personnel changes with artist career information. It isn't exclusively rock either. Major folk, country, pop, soul and blues artists and bands get a look-in. For the money it is a bargain and contains enough information on each band to have a good understanding of their music and how it was received by the public. Chart placings in the UK & USA are a bonus that saves wasting money on those chart guides. Since its first edition 20 years or so ago, this has been the essential discography on the market. We just need the definitive guide now that includes all those bands & artists of the 20th Century that have a lasting significance.
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on 15 September 2013
This item that was bought for me awhile back- and very pleasing it is too. It is an exhaustive discography of numerous artists. I was intrigued to read the album placings of my favourite bands - contrasting their success in the UK and US charts. Very geek like!

One of the problems undertaking such a massive task is that you will have to omit some artists - and this will all come down to choice. Should Butthole Surfers and Coal Chamber be included but not Caravan and Renaissance?

As for the ratings - should the Rush album 2112 really score higher than Moving Pictures, considered by many to be their best?

It would be great fun for music fans to take this book to the pub - I can imagine a lively (heated?) debate taking place!

Very good book and one that I often refer back to.
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on 10 January 2009
`The Bible for all music fans'. That's a statement which, even if you tried, couldn't be more accurate. The Essential Rock Discography (or, maybe as I'll refer to it in future, TERD), consists of 1250 pages...a lot, yes. The amount could give the actual Bible a run for its money. But every single one of these pages is, literally, stuffed with information. Have you ever wanted to find out a colossal amount of biographical information on your favourite bands, and anonymous bands too? Now's your chance. If you buy TERD you're, guaranteed, going to be overwhelmed at the fact of how filled with information it is. It also, as mentioned on the blurb, contains over 100 full page photographs...which is a good thing if you want to recap on exactly what a specific band looks like. The depth Martin C. Strong goes into about every single rock band / artist on the planet is peculiarly mindblowing, if you fully understand what I mean by that phrase. It's not a negative one, by the way.
If you're wondering why this review, probably, seems a bit vague and rather slurred it's because it's just such a good book I'm a bit stuck on what to tell budding purchasers about it.
It's simply fantastic, that's a factual remark. For music enthusiasts I, for the life of me, can't think of a single volume that would be of more use or more interesting & joyous to read (joyous? Sounds a bit of a weird phrase, yeah...but it is, seriously).
So there we have it. My review on TERD, The Essential Rock Discography. My advisement would be to GABIN (Go And Buy It NOW).
Here's a certainty: you won't be disappointed.
And, er, did I just say that was a certainty?

5 Star *****
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on 2 May 2011
I quite enjoy the detail within this book but it does have some short comings, if I had known of these it may have swayed my decision to buy, but the price it was offered at said 'go for it' and indeed it is good. There are a few lesser known bands missing here and the author does tend to indulge a little with his personal thoughts.So on the whole it is a good buy foy a general 'lookup' and source of info, but It needs to be expanded and divided into two volumes (pre 1990 and post 1990) with no stone unturned - so to speak.!
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