Way cool music reference guides:
Books that influenced my musical taste

All Music Guide - Edited by Michael Erlewine and Scott Bultman - 1992 - This covers pretty much every type of music from classical to heavy metal.  Covers a huge amounts of musicians, but doesn't give a complete account of each.  I guess you have to compromise somewhere.

The Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders - by Wayne Jancik - 1998 - Really interesting look at all of the one hit wonders you know and love.  Covers from 1955-1992.  There is a page or two about each of the songs, how the band wrote them, and what happened before and after the hit.  So if you have ever wondered what happened to Frankie Goes to Hollywood or Nena, I can tell you.

The Billboard Book of Top 40 Albums - 3rd Edition - Joel Whitburn - 1995 - As it says, it is 'the complete chart guide to every album in the top 40 since 1955.'  Mostly, I don't care about bands who make it to the top 40, but it is still interesting to see who had a hit and when.

Covert Culture Sourcebook - A guide to fringe culture - Richard Kadrey - 1993 - I think this was like a dollar in a bargain bin.  It has a few strange selections of music in it, but it also covers books, fashion, etc.  For the price I paid, I guess it is ok.  Otherwise, I would have been disappointed.

Elvis, The Films and career of Elvis Presley - Steven Zmijewsky and Boris Zmijewsky.  1983 - If you need to know anything about any of Elvis' movies, than this is the book for you.  Lots of pictures, cast lists, and more.  If you need to know, "what film did Elvis play the ______ with a fast temper".

The Great Rock Discography - Martin C Strong - 1998 - Wow, this book is really awesome.  It is huge (949 pages).  It has a pretty decent selection of artists.  And then for those artists, it has a brief description and then a complete discography, track listings, etc.  It is a huge time killer.

A Guide to Great Orchestral Music - Sigmund Spaeth - 1943 - A really old book, but the music it covers hasn't changed much since then.  Covers all the major composers with a brief look at their careers and some of their most famous pieces.

Hollywood Rock - A Guide to Rock 'n' Roll in the Movies - Marshall Crenshaw - 1994 - Got it in a bargain bin, but it is actually pretty good.  And it is by the musician Marshall Crenshaw.  Of course it covers all the Elvis movies, but it also has a nice selection of movies with some sort of rock theme like Crossroads or Quadrophenia.

An Ideal for Living - An History of Joy Division (sic) - Mark Johnson - Really nice history of my favorite band.  Lots of cool pictures.  Covers pretty much every live show they ever played, every song they ever recorded, etc.

Introduction to Opera - Edited by Mary Ellis Peltz - 1963 - Covers 48 different operas, plots, music, etc.

Joy Division - A History in Cuttings - A pretty interesting compilation of tons and tons of newspaper and magazine articles all compiled together in a book.

Lillian Roxan's Rock Encyclopedia - 1971 - I found this one used.  Really old book.  Kind of nice because this has some stuff that the others don't cover because they are so out of print.

Official MusicMaster Jazz & Blues Catalogue Edition 2 - Edited by Graham Langley - 1994 - Got it in a bargain bin.  Created in association with BBC Radio 3.  Lots of bands, brief descriptions and track listings for most of the albums.

Spin Alternative Record Guide - Edited by Eric Weisbard with Craig Marks - 1995 - Kind of a strange selection of artists in this.  They don't try to do an exhaustive survey of all alternative acts.  They do have most of the major ones.  Then they have some of the minor ones and a number of ones you never heard of.  Generally, I agree with their reviews more than I do Rolling Stone, I just wish they covered more bands.

Rock She Wrote - Women Write about Rock, Pop, and Rap - Edited by Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers - 1995 - A collection of pieces from women writers from places like the Village Voice, Melody Maker, etc.  Pretty entertaining collection.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide - Edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson - 1979 -
The New Rolling Stone Record Guide - Edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson - 1983 - These two books cover pretty much all of rock up to 1983.  The first one has lots of stuff that went out of print and was dropped from the second book.  I generally agree with their reviews, but there are some that they are totally wrong about.  The second one was the first guide I ever had.

The Rolling Stone Album Guide - Edited by Anthony DeCurtis and James Henke with Holly George-Warren - 1992 - Finally they updated the older editions.  Still pretty uniform quality and covers pretty much everything by all the artists they cover (which is pretty much everybody in rock.)

The Roots & Rhythm Guide to Rock - Frank Scott, Al Ennis - 1993 - Covers early rock, R&B, Rockabily and Doo Wop.  Not real in depth on any one artist, but lots and lots that I haven't heard of.

She Bop - Lucy O'Brien - 1995 - A pretty interesting history of women in rock.  From the 50s to the 90s.

Top 40 Music on Compact Disc 1955-1981 - Pat Downey - 1994 - Got this in a cutout bin.  Lots of lists of the charts.  It is a bit strange because it only covers songs if they are on a cd somewhere, so large chunks of things are missing, not because they didn't hit the chart, but because they haven't been reissued on cd.

The Trouser Press Record Guide 4th Edition - Edited by Ira A. Robbins - 1991 - This is my favorite record guide without a doubt.  I have read this so many times, I have pretty much memorized it.  Anything you need to know about alternative music is in there.  I think I also have the 2nd and 3rd edition of this.

The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock - Ira Robbins - 1997 - Finally, they came up with a new edition of this.  They cover everything, but the format makes it a little limiting.  If an artist hasn't released anything in the 90s, they were dropped.  I have to end up going back and forth between different books to find things.  However, it is the most up to date guide I have.
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Last Updated September 6, 1999