This is the 19th edition (next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first) of the UK pop chartwatcher's "bible". These days it no longer has the field to itself, but for all the historical information you're likely to need, in a clear, easy to read style, in one volume, and at a reasonable price, this is still The One to get.
They have tinkered slightly with the layout of the main listings this year. Artist headings and albums are now printed in a fetching shade of blood orange, to give a better contrast with the biographical information and singles. The albums are now mixed in with the singles, to give one chronological list for each act.
At the foot of each page runs a "No 1s timeline" to show every week's No 1 single and album from the start in November 1952 (album chart started July 1956) and the end of last year. The usual review of last year is at the start of the book and the index of song titles at the end; dotted throughout the main A-Z listings are numerous featurettes (eg Oscar-winning songs) of doubtful importance but fascinating, none the less.
Paper, print quality and overall clarity are the usual high standard and if last year's volume fitted on your bookshelf this one will also - at 720 pages it has just two more!
It could be argued that, in the face of declining music sales and the availability of much of the information over the internet (at a price), the relevance of this yearly publication is also diminishing. However, its strength lies in its historical depth:- most people hear songs on the radio and can't remember who they were, or wonder how old they were, (and DJs and presenters aren't and never have been very informative when you want them to be). This book provides the quickest way of finding out; it has also been known to settle arguments. It may no longer be the essential purchase it once was, but it is still highly useful, and all-round, it is still the best.
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This fantastic book is an absolute must for music lovers of all ages. Packed with information regarding the UK music charts, "British Hit Singles and Albums" leaves no stone unturned. As well as listing every single and album to have entered the charts since 1952 and 1956 respectively, this book gives you each single and album's peak chart position, total weeks spent on chart, date of entry, catalogue number, record label... I am in absolute awe of Guinness. How much effort must go into creating these beautiful paving slabs every year? And this edition is the biggest slab yet, containing 720 pages and having grown to a larger height than usual. This, of course, has permitted the inclusion of a multitude of special features, such as various artists' Top 10 singles and albums, chart milestones, a "Body Parts Chart", the "Pop Premier League" (giving football clubs all over the UK a chance to shine as pop stars), the customary pop review of the year, and most notably, the extensive section at the back of the book celebrating 1000 UK no. 1 singles. The information you desire is clearly laid out and, consequently, is easy to find. Guinness have painstakingly added up each act's total weeks on the UK singles and albums charts and have constructed a Top 500 list of acts according to their totals, so in addition to simply discovering everything you will ever need to know about a certain single or album, you will also find a biography of those acts making it into this Top 500. The Top 100 acts are listed in all their glory over two pages in the book, and I could not help but be astounded at the incredible chart week totals clocked up by Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, as well as the Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson, Abba and U2 to name but a few. In my opinion, "British Hit Singles and Albums" reigns supreme over its fairly new rivals, and if there is one book that I swear by as a music lover, this is certainly it.
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