Got Dave Marsh's original BOOK OF ROCK LISTS (1981) 4 an Xmas or birthday present back around 1983 & enjoyed it even if I wasn't Xactly bowled over -- I marked it up & desecrated it & marked all the Good Parts & earmarked especially good pages, like I do with almost all the books I keep (I've gotten a LITTLE better about this as I've grown older)....
But even as I was enjoying it I realized it wasn't as good as it should've been. There wasn't enuf comedy. There was 2 much "Best songs of the year"-type stuff -- stuff rabid rock&roll fans would already know anyway. There was a list of Elvis's greatest hits. Marsh & other critics' lists of essential albums & 45's thru the years. There were a lot of silly space-filling lists about "best bassists," "best guitarists," stuff like that.
You could see the book WANTED 2 B a lot of fun. The effort was there. But the execution.... It was just a little thin, somehow. Not fun enuf.
Marsh & James Bernard's 1994 update THE NEW BOOK OF ROCK LISTS is more like it. It's massive -- nearly 600 pages. All those old best-of-the-year lists R gone. MOST of the kinda-pointless how-much-do-you-know-about-the-Beatles-or-Elvis? lists are gone. There's a lot of then-new stuff on Rap & Hip-Hop artists (doesn't do much 4 me, but summa the stories R pretty funny). There's a lot less effort wasted in trying to make the book a critical piece -- a lot more time spent on just funny, off-the-wall or intresting stuff. There's probly a little 2 much space spent on Tipper Gore & the Parents' Music Resource Center.
But if all else fails, the book's big enuf 2 use as a doorstop. Or a bookend.
There is at least 1 new critical theory in this book: that Eric Clapton's laid-back, lazy & useless "Wonderful Tonight" -- a fairly big hit in '78 & a fairly common item on Classic Rock radio -- is actually a frustrated peek inside the final days of Clapton's marriage 2 Patti Boyd, about how frustrated he was that she took so long 2 get ready for EVERYTHING, including dinners; that his frustration with her was bursting out of him, & finally took shape in what is perceived as a sweet laid-back lovesong -- no suprise they got divorced soon after.
Ghod forbid. I might actually havta listen 2 the WORDS of that wretched song 2 find out if Marsh & Bernard & Co. R right. Who woulda thot such a piece of hackwork had such hidden depths...?
There's lotsa other Good Stuff too: Chrissie Hynde's advice to women rockers; 21 rock stars who'd lose an intelligence test against Beavis & Butt-head; Really Dumb Record Deals; Overrated Music Biz Managers & Moguls; a ton of hilarious Dubious Achievement Awards; The Most Pathetic Grammy Award Winners (the list could sure B LONGER); Artists that critics think can do no wrong; the best & worst books about rock&roll; best pop-music fiction; 150 essential post-punk albums; Worst Career Moves; the best & worst "live" albums; tons of stuff on or about Parliafunkadelicment; rock&roll's "Enemies List"; 25 amazing censorship cases; best & worst album covers; clues in the entire "Paul is Dead" story; the 40 worst #1 hits; the 40 worst #1 albums; albums & songs where you can allegedly hear Satan lurking (anybody ever played Pat Boone records backwards?); & lots more....
I haven't marked this up yet, tho I HAVE started dog-earing pages 4 later reading....
Frank Zappa's list of his 10 Favorite Rock Critics is sorta balanced-out by Tipper Gore's 10 Favorite Rock Albums. But if you're a fan, this book's a keeper.