I've enjoyed reading and writing reviews for a darn long time. I blame books like this.
Around the time I was getting into music - well, I mean, besides listening to my own Disney records and boogie-ing down to mom's ABBA collection (in our house I was the
Dancing Queen) - it was about 1983 or '84, and my two slightly older cousins were paving the way for me. One of them had The New Rolling Stone Record Guide
on his shelf and when I discovered it, I was amazed! "You mean to tell me there's a whole book out there that flat out tells you about every band and every record that's ever existed?!" Well, it doesn't include ALL that, but for a kid living in the pre-internet sticks, this was a frickin' gold mine!
Rolling Stone these days is most associated with the rock genre, but back then they made sure to include plenty of blues, folk, soul, country and even gospel. Due to the time of publication, disco made it into this book perhaps more than any other general music reference text, perhaps ever...take that for what it is. Punk came along at about the same time as disco, but its contribution to this book is relative in size to its popularity compared with disco. Meaning, there's not much of it. Being that the guide was originally published in '79 and that it necessarily takes most of its content from the magazine reviews over the prior few years, this focuses heavily on the folk rock of the early to mid 70s. Due to the likes of Black Sabbath, Kiss, Deep Purple, and others, seminal heavy metal or just hard rock acts muscle in beside the James Taylors, Carly Simons and Carol Kings.
These days I like to flip through this book as well as the newer version RS did about a decade later to see if time changed their view on certain albums. It's funny how a few years and a new perception can translate to the addition or subtraction of a few stars in their annoyingly ridged one-to-five star rating system (sound familiar?).
It's also a hoot to see what the writers had to say about certain performers back then. Especially fun are their spot-on condemnations of the newcomers:Air SupplyQuintessential saccharin: ersatz, sickly sweet and probably carcinogenic.
Just as fun are the misfire prognostications for bands they saw in the late 70s as having absolutely no future:JourneyJourney was a dead end for San Francisco area rock.