Top 5 References for Music Fans

20 Jul

1.  The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll:  A little dated and certainly ripe for an update, but as one stop shopping for a complete history of rock and roll up through the mid-80’s, this is tough to beat.  Organized roughly chronologically, it’s a series of multi-page entries for all the major artists of the era as well as some which detail the history and development of the art form, all written by the cream of the crop of rock writers.

2.  The Pitchfork 500:  The 500 key songs of the indie era as picked by the editors of Pitchfork, the hipper-than-thou website that’s sort of become to the point and click nation what Rolling Stone was for the 60s or Spin for the early 80s.  Reviews are capsule sized and, taken as a whole, make a case for a new Rock and Roll Canon.

3.  1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: By Tom Moon.  The product of a life spent listening, this is Philadelphia Inquirer  and NPR critic Tom Moon’s guide to the music everybody needs to hear.  The entries generally range between 250 and 500 words and are unfailingly well-written.  Certainly, fans will find something or other to quibble about in Moon’s selections, but in covering Rock, Jazz, Country, Classical, Hip-Hop, World Music and any other genre, Moon delivers a book that casts new light on his choices and is sure to send even hard core music junkies into some heretofore unexplored directions.

4. Hip Hop America: By Nelson George.  If not a definitive history of the genre, this does as good a job of anything of putting the it in perspective.

5.  Rock and Roll: PBS  This fantastic 10 part documentary from 1995 is now out of print and likely will remain so due to copyright issues.  It was never released on DVD but you can catch it in 10 minute segments on YOUTUBE and maybe obtain VHS copies through your local library cooperative.  There’s also a companion book “Rock and Roll: An Unruly History” by Robert Palmer.

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