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1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by…

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005)

by Robert Dimery

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: 1001 (Albums)

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Showing 5 of 5
I started this book with higher hopes for it than for its "1001 Books" cousin, because it started with a nice explanation of exactly what kinds of albums were included and why. I hate rock and roll criticism, because so much of it seems to be a showcase for the writer's use of fancy words that don't tell you anything about how the music actually sounds. The articles in this book were not bad in that respect, though; thanks in part to their brevity, they focus on common terms for genres that will actually give the reader a sense of what other types of music a given album compares to.

However, as with the "1001 Books," I couldn't help but noticing that some things were missing and that a lot of things I had never heard of were there. I tried to console myself that great artists like Pat Benatar were nowhere to be found on the list because it is a list of albums, which is clear from the beginning, not just good songs, and thus some really good artists who have done some really good songs, but on albums that also featured some mediocre songs and thus didn't form any really cohesive whole that sparkled as a masterpiece from beginning to end, might not make the cut. And from the 50s through the 70s, I felt that many of the choices made were spot on.

In those pesky 80s and 90s though, I couldn't help but wonder about some things that were included, and couldn't help but be bothered that there really is a lot missing. And then I got to the Britney Spears page. Yes, apparently I desperately needed to hear Britney's debut album before I died--moreso than anything by Leslie Gore, Roy Orbison, The Supremes, Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, Lionel Richie, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Joan Jett, Heart, Journey, Foreigner, INXS, The Scorpions, Styx, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, The Cranberries, Weezer, The Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, Macy Gray, or Alicia Keys--all great acts who didn't make the cut, and many (though not all) of whom, I would argue, have done some stellar albums.

This is what bothered me most about the book: its treatment of "pop" music. I think most of the rock, punk, jazz, country, and even world albums that got picked did deserve to be there. But only a few purely pop or disco records were acknowledged (The Carpenters, ABBA, Chic, Sister Sledge, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake) that could not be forced into the "New Wave" or "Electronica" categories, and those felt to me like pandering, as if the editors felt "we've got to pick a few pop records, so let's grab this handful that were the most popular to represent that whole genre." (The review for ABBA's "The Visitors," for example, seemed to dismiss a third of the songs on the album as silly or even nonsensical pop). I appreciate that there's good music out there that I've never been exposed to and that music journalists want to bring it to light. But I don't believe that millions of people worldwide are just mindless, tasteless consumers of disposable music, and that any act that sells widely is inherently less valuable than the latest indie underground group. I can't help but get the feeling when I read music magazines, and books like this, that the music critics disagree with me. In the end, I feel that this book suffers from the same pretensions as its "1001 Books" companion in that some relatively unknown artists' entire bodies of work were listed where just one example might have sufficed, while other much more well-known and well-loved choices were passed by. It's a nice little encyclopedia to have for when I want to know more about a particular album, artist, or time-frame, but I won't be trusting it to dictate my CD collection. ( )
2 vote quaintlittlehead | Apr 5, 2008 |
This is a nice little encyclopedia to have. I've been getting into a lot of older music recently, and it's awesome to go to back to this book to read about Sly & The Family Stone or Leonard Cohen or whoever else in this book (of course there's new music all the way up till 2005 here as well). Obviously whenever lists are compiled, there are questionable inclusions and omissions, but you're likely to find a lot of your favourite albums in here, and be opened up to a lot of new music. ( )
  Symbiosis | Sep 1, 2007 |
This is a great browsing book and unlike "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" i have heard of many of these. Subjective, as any book of this type must be, it is still a very worthwhile book to own--and definitely a conversation starter. ( )
  rampaginglibrarian | Aug 22, 2006 |
Mostly useful and interesting for the list itself - the accompanying description of each of the albums is sometimes the worst type of rock-crit. ( )
  Calico | May 9, 2006 |
Note, review applies to this 2005 Australian edition, which is combined with all other country editions.
Find at http://shop.abc.net.au or any good Australian bookstore.

‘1001 Albums’ is described as the 'ultimate insider's guide to all those albums you have to hear before it is too late'. Typical gutsy hyperbole, but all true. It's a book to browse and enjoy reading because it's more than a list of subjectively selected albums.

Over 90 (mainly US & UK) industry and magazine have given readable and entertaining insight into what made each album significant then and now, production & recording details, as well as full track listing and images of the album cover.
Riches indeed!
Triple J's Richard Kingsmill does a foreword for this Australian-published edition but it otherwise appears to be a straight reprint of the UK edition. On that note, although I've found many old favourites in here as well as new ones…. I wish we'd had more New Zealand and Australian local talent represented in this ABC edition.

Music-lovers in both countries will agree we’ve had some significant albums produced in THIS hemisphere as well. As much as I love the Finn brothers....yes Crowded House deserve to be found here, but NZ representation is otherwise thin. And while Australian rockers AC/DC appear to have made the top 1,001… there’s little acknowledgement otherwise that Australia has produced a huge depth of talent in the last 20 years as well.

Apart from that parochial gripe, it’s a fantastic book to have and enjoy. At 960 pages… make sure your bookshelf is sturdy. ( )
  ryn_books | Jan 13, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Dimeryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hyrkkö, SakariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sneum, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (191)

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

16 Lovers Lane

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

A Date with the Everly Brothers

A Girl Called Dusty

A Little Deeper

I've Got a Tiger By the Tail (album)

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears


In the Wee Small Hours

Incredible Bongo Band

Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby

Rock 'n Soul (Solomon Burke album)

Safe as Milk

Scream, Dracula, Scream!

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

Sex Packets

Sincere (album)

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0789313715, Hardcover)

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is a highly readable list of the best, the most important, and the most influential pop albums from 1955 through 2003. Carefully selected by a team of international critics, each album is a groundbreaking work seminal to the understanding and appreciation of music from the 1950s to the present. Included with each entry are production details and credits as well as reproductions of original album cover art. Perhaps most important of all, each album featured comes with an authoritative description of its importance and influence. Among the critics involved in selecting the list are some of the best known music reviewers and commentators, including Theunis Bates (music writer for Time and urban editor at worldpop.com), Jon Harrington (staff writer at MTV), Seth Jacobson (writer for Dazed & Confused), as well as many others.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:02 -0400)

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A searing and compassionate story of one of the most maligned, and least understood, women in our nation's history: Mary Todd Lincoln.

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