Thursday, September 12, 2013

The New Book of Rock Lists

1994, edition from later that year, from Fireside
Dave Marsh and James Bernard
The New Book of Rock Lists
Probably bought newish for $15.00
Worn paperback

I guess this is about equally good to the 1981 edition, but it has some of the flaws of the earlier book, as well as some new ones.  Once again, there's no index, although I suppose you can guess where a list is based on what chapter it's likely in.  The thing is, some of the previous chapters-- like the ones on the Beatles and Elvis-- have been collapsed into other chapters, like "History."  And I found it somewhat annoying how the coauthors would say "rock & rap," like that's a thing.  Either rap is part of rock and shouldn't be privileged over other subgenres, or it's a separate genre in of itself.

In fact, I found a disconnect while reading this edition, that I didn't before.  Marsh and Bernard would agree with my comment that the earlier edition came out at a very transitional time in music, but we would disagree on what was significant about the baker's dozen of years of new music.  While I doubled my age (13 to 26), I mostly listened to the more pop-oriented end of rock, rather than the harsher sounds of rap/hip-hop and metal.  Yes, I was aware of those subgenres, but even the bands and artists I liked were lighter, e.g. En Vogue and Van Halen.  And I can't remember one reference to the Thompson Twins, and very few to even Culture Club.  Of the groups/artists that I have '91-'93 videos of on VHS, they're either not mentioned at all, or only once or twice, such as Tony! Toni! Tone! or Tom Cochrane.  To say nothing of Deee-lite and the B-52s a few years earlier.  Dave Marsh himself is on about half a dozen of the lists, and all he did as a musician was the Rock Bottom Remainders.

That all said, I did enjoy the book, finding it informative and sometimes amusing.  Some lists are updated while others are frozen in time, and of course there are new lists.  The Enemies List is probably the most significantly changed, since Tipper Gore and others drew their ire for efforts towards censorship.  And of course the list of "Famous Censorship Cases" expanded, my favorite example being Rhino Records' 1984 release of The Official Record Album of the Olympics, featuring the doo-whop band the Olympics:

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