Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Tom Moon

Rock & Roll Books

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List

by Tom Moon
Workman Publishing, 1,007 pp., $19.95 (paper)

Thumbing through this publisher's sequel to 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, informed fans can dig up enough errors – Fugazi concerts cost $5, not $15, and "the first great blast of L.A. punk" probably came from the Germs, not Black Flag – to raise concerns about its overall accuracy. In addition, as the list skews perhaps unavoidably toward the mainstream, music geeks of any stripe will come across choices they find questionable, odd, or downright infuriating. Green Day over the Big Boys? Bright Eyes over Cat Power and Neutral Milk Hotel? Screaming Trees and Alice in Chains over everything by Steve Albini, Justin Broadrick, and Daniel Johnston? That said, the book's weaknesses are overwhelmed by its strengths, including unconventional picks that are instantly gratifying, such as Faust, the Magnetic Fields, and Alejandro Escovedo. Author Tom Moon delivers cogent and intriguing defenses of albums that seem easy to dismiss (Madonna's Ray of Light), and most importantly, he endorses and explains hundreds of recordings in jazz, folk, blues, art music, opera, and especially world music, making 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to leave his comfort zone and develop a more complete understanding of music.

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1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

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