Rock Chronicles: Every Legend. Every Line-up. Every Look

David Roberts, Editor, Alice Cooper, Foreword by
Edited by David Roberts, foreword by Alice Cooper. Firefly, $29.95 trade paper with flaps (576p) ISBN 978-1-77085-117-7
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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The year-in, year-out grind of rock stardom is meticulously mapped in this prosaic encyclopedia of notable bands. The AC/DC-to-ZZ Top selection includes 250 groups from the classic rock era and later (just a handful of stars from the 1950s appear), comprising all the familiar names along with influential obscurities—Captain Beefheart! Einstürzende Neubauten!— and representative Asian, continental and Brazilian ensembles. (The visually flamboyant groups—especially heavy-metal divas—get ogled in color photo spreads of grimacing long-hairs.) Colorful graphics detail album releases, sales figures, and shifting rosters of bandmates (16 people have staffed Iron Maiden over the years, only one permanently), but the focus on details tends to bog down the uneven interpretive essays: while some entries offer stimulating commentary on the music, others are mainly a record of personnel turnover among small fry. (Gossip is disappointingly sparse.) Casual data-mining reveals striking patterns: rock music is almost as male-dominated as pro baseball; bands are such onerous workplaces that their members can't wait to quit; and they always come back for sextagenarian reunion tours. At its best, this hit-and-miss medley will introduce browsers to music they hadn't realized they would like. (Oct.)
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