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Friday, March 28, 2008

All Music Guide: Classic Rock (Backbeat)

edited by Chris Woodstra, John Bush and Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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As a late boomer, I strained to read the tiny type of the 1,000 album reviews crammed into the Classic Rock guide. An early boomer might go blind. But with magnifying glass in hand, the effort of reading this handbook on the recent past is worthwhile. As the introduction rightly states, “classic rock” was coined as a marketing term in the ’80s and has no particular musicological meaning. However, the phrase has stuck as a way of describing the ambitious rock that began in the mid-’60s and petered out by the ’80s. To their credit, the editors define classic rock broadly, including the Stooges and the Velvet Underground along with Elton John and the Eagles. One can always quibble (Rick Wakeman didn’t help pave the way for progressive rock; he represented a sad dead end). But on the whole, the reviews in Classic Rock are intelligently measured in their assessments.