One Man's "Poison"...

One Man's "Poison"...
Reviewer: SteveJ
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1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die:
960 pages
February 07, 2006
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Highly readable list of the best, the most important, and the most influential pop albums from 1955 through 2003.

So this is what 1001 album reviews looks like. This is a doorstop of a book! I always approach these books, much like the “best album cover” compilations with a bit of wariness and skepticism. After all, one man’s “Poison” is another man’s…well, you get the drift.

That said, this is an impressive lineup of writers, tackling the significant signposts of the modern musical landscape. All of the touchstone albums, in every genre, that you would expect are here…and then some.

The book has a really good layout, being divided into decades, beginning with the ‘50s, and ending in the 2000s.  Each decade is defined by five cultural or political “moments” to provide context. Some of the selections include the sequence, along with a relevant quote from the artist. Nice touch.

All the usual suspects are here — Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground and U2 — but what’s in here may surprise you more than what isn’t. I’m a huge Joe Ely fan, but I definitely did not expect to see 1978s Honky Tonk Masquerade on this list; likewise, Lloyd Cole’s Rattlesnakes was a pleasant surprise. For the life of me, I still don’t get the hipster rebirth of Abba or The Bee Gees. That’s what drove me to punk the first time around. Of course, they’re both here too.

But that’s the pleasure — and frustration — inherent in these books and measuring your record collection by them. And although the author(s) insists these are records you need to “hear” before you die, it doesn’t mean you ever need to hear them a second time. And just because you read about the records, you certainly don’t need to add them to your collection.

I mean, there’s NO chance I’m picking up that Incubus record.

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