New Rock Record
by Terry Hounsome & Tim Chambre
Published by Blandford Press
The intentions of this book will be made clear from some quotations on the back cover: "It provides an invaluable, accurate and enlightening listing of rock music albums and the musicians, bands and groups who appear on them." And: "New Rock Record contains over 5,000 groups, bands and individual artists coupled with details of more than 30,000 long-playing record albums on which they appear. In total, some 40,000 musicians are listed..."
A challenging and daunting feat but co author Terry Hounsome has more modest aims when he says in his introduction: "New Rock Record contains some 4,500 entries, 30,000 LP records and 25,000 different musicians." One claim must be wrong!
The contents, however, show the amount of work and time (five years according to Hounsome) spent in organising such a directory. It contains over 500 pages and includes a 58-page index of musicians' and groups' names (about 25,000).
The book is easy to use and understand once you have looked-up and cross-indexed a few names and if you like the sound of a particular bazouki player on an album you can find out which other albums he played on.
The introduction states that: "The editor is aware that some entries are incomplete and that there are some omissions." In a volume of this size and nature it is to be expected but some of the errors and omissions seem unnecessary and sometimes the logic is a little hard to follow. While looking up some of my favourite artists (and getting sidetracked in the process) in a book which intends to take in; "... all forms of Rock music from its roots to the present day; as well as mainstream Rock it also contains much information on Pop, Soul, Reggae, Jazzrock, Blues, Country and Folk." It was strange to see no listing for, for example, Donna Summer or Barbra Streisand while Boney M and Kris Kristofferson have a section to themselves.
(Actually a Barbra Streisand is listed as doing vocals for Kris Kristofferson on his 'A Star is Born' album but she is not even listed in the index.) Abba has a full listing with Cliff Richard and the Crusaders (although Randy Crawford is credited here on vocals, her solo album is ignored). Country music is mentioned although Jim Reeves and Slim Whitman are not. Dolly Parton is credited with vocals on other people's albums but not given a separate listing of her own.
Obviously, the line had to be drawn somewhere and no doubt each reader will have their own opinion as to where it should have been.
Some errors are blatant. Jim Steinman of Meatloaf fame is listed as John. Wanda Jackson had a release on Capitol in 1067. The Residents' Commercial album (1980) is not included. Larry Fast is not credited with the Synergy albums (no one is) about which very little information is given; even their release on Passport Records is not given apart from the number of the 'Cords' album for which the year is omitted. Numerous albums do not have their year listed.
While cross-indexing the B.B. King discography with that listed in his biography (see review) there were several anomalies although the New Rock Record did list several foreign printings of US releases.
The book is intensely interesting and fascinating and once you start cross-indexing a few musicians you could easily spend several hours tracing musician to band and following them from group to group.
It does not have all the answers and if used to settle wagers of the '...but Randy Brecker did play trumpet in 1968 for the McCoys...' type then the loser could possibly justify non-payment on the grounds of a possible error. For all that, an elucidating work but certainly not definitive.
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