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Wide scope but thin on the info
on 20 November 2012
I was really looking forward to this book because I am a music anorak. I had hoped to find out some new nuggets about a lot of bands that I knew would be in here.
Well the good news is that there are an incredible number of bands covered in this tome. The overall view of rock is as wide as could reasonably be expected in a book that you can still pick up. From Eric Clapton to Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry to Green Day are all in here.
However, the depth of the articles are really the weak point of the book. So many of the artists are given the briefest of summary style statements that there is nothing new to be learned about any of them. King Crimson only get one page and the quickest, most scant overview. The same for the Grateful Dead and so on....
There is an interesting graphic display at the bottom of each of the articles that has great potential and yet only works on a few occasions. The band lineups are charted, showing key albums and presented in chronological order, so that it is possible to see at a glance who was in the band when they recorded......whatever, when they left, who replaced them and so on... The idea is a good one, but when you have a band like King Crimson, or Frank Zappas, who had a fairly large roster of key players it falls apart and takes up space that could have been better used getting across the type of music the band played. It is also a bit pointless when a band has had a steady lineup for decades, ZZ Top for instance, System of a Down for another.
This reminds me of another weakness that disappointed me. There is no real hint or sense of the sort of music a band played in its existance, or how it changed over the years. Jazz books get this done so well I feel like buying stacks of them, whereas here.....I don't. #
A pity really!
I have settled on 3 stars, basically because there is a lot of info in the book, but ultimately not enough about the music each band played, nor anything new about any band that even a casual fan would not already know.
Edit, I have added a half star because there are snippets of interesting information with regards to lineups of bands and record sales. Public Image apparently never shifted much above 250000 copies of any one album, Bad Company have had more folk in the lineup by a factor of 4 than I would ever have guessed. Despite being hard on the book above, I find myself dipping into it in the search for other nuggets.