For any music fan, you know a title of the 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die is worth a look. For novice fans, the book makes good suggestions ranging every musical genre you can think off. For the music fanatic you can read it to pick it apart, because even with a thousand entries, certainly everyone can come up with a least of a hundred recordings that should have been included in the list and a few that you make you scratch your head at their inclusion.
From his picture on the back of the book, it should be noted that author Tom Moon is of the Baby Boomer generation so naturally there is an overabundance of music from the sixties while Bob Dylan and the Beatles are more than represented. Okay old people, we get it, you really loved the Beatles, but really eight albums featuring the band members? Dylan landed four while a few ranked twice. Keep in mind Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon) and U2 (The Joshua Tree) only made the list once. I would really like Moon to justify just how Usher’s Confessions, Britney Spears’ Toxic and No Doubt’s Rock Steady (which isn’t even the band’s best work) rank higher than Born in the USA, Wish You Were Here and Achtung Baby.
I also am not sure if I should complain about the exclusion of any Eric Clapton album (seriously, no Slowhand), he does show up with Derek and the Dominos, Cream, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, The Yardbirds, and Blind Faith. Where the sixties is well populated, looking at this book it is as the nineties didn’t exist unless you were a grunge band or a dead rapper. That did lead to possibly the best write up in the book for Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chamber) where Moon bizarrely starts up the review quoting poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But enough with the complaints of the selections because if I continued to nit-pick I would write a review that rivals the book’s 1007 pages.
116 of those pages are just indexes. But with indexes for Genre, Occasions (like Parties, Romance), Composers, and Performers. Although it would have been nice if they would have thrown in an extra five pages to list the recording chronologically. But each write up is well done even if Moon doesn’t seem to really understand any the music he included that release after 1980. Each recording also include Key Tracks, Catalog Choice, other works by the artist worth listening to, as well as Next Stop and After That, two recording that are related musically to selection worth checking out.
Easily the most interesting inclusion has to be The Grey Album by Danger Mouse considering that to listen to it you are technically breaking the law. For those unfamiliar, The Grey Album a mash up between The White Album by The Beatles (which of course is also listed) and The Black Album from Jay-Z (which is conspicuously missing from the list) that launched Danger Mouse into a succesful producer and one half of Gnarls Barkley.
But whatever type a music fan you are, there is plenty of gems to find in the book. And the short segment are perfect to have laying around when you only have short spurts of time to kill, as it is currently taking up space in my bathroom. Just keep in mind the 1007 page thick frame is a little cumbersome to hold at time, so the short spurts of reading is really ideal.
1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.