BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus


Anyone who loves pop music, be it blues or jazz, country or reggae, world or rap would do well to check out ALL MUSIC GUIDE, the 4th edition of The Definitive Guide to Popular Music published by AMG and Backbeat Books. Previous editions have sold 60,000 copies, impressive numbers for a 1,500-page tome that costs $34.95.

Fully updated and revised, the 4th edition offers concise and comprehensive information on nearly a century of popular music. The guide's editors--Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra and Stephen Thomas Erlewine--oversee the contributions of some 500 writers whose responsibility is to provide sketches of individual artists in each musical field and offer critical views on their most significant recordings.

Here is a random sampling of what you can expect to find in the new ALL
MUSIC GUIDE. The late jazzman Charles Mingus, for example, is called
"irascible, demanding, bullying and probably a genius" by Richard S. Ginell, who goes on to rate and review 34 of Mingus' recordings, giving about a third of them five stars. In the rock section, Erlewine sums up "Mott the Hoople" as "one of the great also-rans in the history of rock & roll." He rates 11 of the group's records, giving 5 stars to six of them.

In the Blues section Bill Dahl says Buddy Guy is "Chicago's blues king
today...yet there was a time, and not all that long ago either, when Guy
couldn't even negotiate a decent record deal." Dahl's highest praise goes to Guy's 1974 MCA/Chess recording, "I Was Walking Through the Blues."

In all, over 20,000 albums from 4,000 artists in 16 musical genres are
discussed in All Music Guide, making it the best and most comprehensive
reference book on the market today.