Reviewed by Tony Cummings
I can genuinely say I was looking forward to seeing this tome and my first impressions were entirely favourable. Very nicely designed and printed with colour photos and sleeves on almost every page, this seems, at first glance, to be a fine way to explore decades of popular music history. Assembled chronologically (the first album documented/illustrated is Frank Sinatra's 'In The Wee Small Hours' from 1955 and the last one the White Stripes' 'Get Behind Me Satan') this brings together the thoughts, research and opinions of "90 leading international critics." There are plenty of milestone albums chronicled here and so as a useful guide to rock 'n' roll, jazz, funk, punk, disco, soul, hip-hop and experimental music this might be of some use on the music lover's bookshelf. But if you're looking for a book chronicling Christians' major contribution towards music development this is a complete non-starter. I suppose it was to be expected that there would be no editorial space found for the giants of CCM but alongside the lack of coverage for Amy, Michael, Steven, Delirious?, Matt, etc there is, scandalously, no space found for a single black gospel artist (with the exception of Ladysmith Black Mambazzo - and they sing in Zulu!). If this wasn't exasperating enough, there are pages and pages covering albums like Drive Like Jehu's 'Yank Crime' where we learn that band leader John Reis wanted to be "really f****** s*** hot on fire," or the Butthole Surfers' 'Locust Abortion Technician' which apparently features someone "screaming Satan! Satan! as the band blast through a nightmarish destruction of the riff from Black Sabbath's 'Sweet Leaf'". If such a ludicrously off-kilter selection of albums wasn't enough, over and over again in the album profiles we are confronted with the worst kind of pretentious guff from the "international critics" who seem largely concerned with leaving calling cards for how hip they are than truly offering a fair analysis of five decades of pop, rock and jazz. Best avoided.
The opinions expressed in this article are
not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed
views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may
not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a
Interested in reviewing music? Find out