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The Rolling Stone Record Guide: Reviews and…
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The Rolling Stone Record Guide: Reviews and Ratings of Almost 10,000…

by Dave Marsh

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Opinionated? Yes. But that's what we came for. Marsh et al treat a wide variety of music from a distinctively American standpoint. Of course, it was put together in the 1980s, so there's much missing, but still a fine resource and a great way to get turned on to some new old music. ( )
  ehines | Sep 18, 2010 |
This reference work is by far the most comprehensive guide to recorded music ever published. It is organized first by music genre (rock/ pop/ soul; jazz; classical; country, etc.) and secondarily by named artist and band. Within each musician / band listing, it offers a chronology of the recorded work, ranking each recording (i.e., record/ tape/ CD) from one star to five, and summarizing the trends as well as career high and low points for a musician or musical group.

Of particular value to collectors who care about their music are the analyses and reviews. While they always reflect the opinions of a particular reviewer, they offer a foil against which one can formulate a personal evaluation. As with rankings of books, the ratings are fun to read, agree with, or rail against. But mostly they function as guides to the recordings, since one quickly learns what recordings and artists to sample, and which to avoid, from a reviewer's own likes and dislikes.

In its various editions, the emphasis of the Rolling Stone Guide was always on rock, pop, and contemporary folk. However, it also has offered a useful guide to the most significant artists and recordings in jazz, country, and classical. Of course, for those truly interested in jazz and classical, other sources were far more definitive as guides.

Many a collector of popular music in the 1970s and 80s used the Rolling Stone Record Guide as a reference in building their own music collection. Its one real limitation was its focus on recordings in print, an unnecessary and annoying limitation to those inclined to acquire music from second hand stores. For this reason, the first edition remained valuable after the second and third ones came out; I am by no means the only reader who kept copies of more than one edition at hand for constant reference, and who wore out multiple copies of the first edition.

It's been many years since I've used my Rolling Stone Record guide. Online sites like AllMusic provide much more accessible guides and reviews that are frequently updated, include out of print recordings, and offer links to excerpts of recordings. In addition, with digital music being so readily available, "trying out" a new artist carries none of the financial risk that it once did -- all it takes is a computer keystroke. What's more, now that commercial music has become just another commodity, and is largely generated on computer, such words as creativity and innovation too-seldom apply. But while its day arguably has passed, the RS Record Guide deserves to be recognized as an incomparable resource, and one that still offers independent opinions to those who care about quality in their recorded music. ( )
7 vote danielx | Jul 19, 2008 |
Great for Music Trivial Pursuit ( )
  bluecat51 | Jul 7, 2008 |
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