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Before the advent of the Internet, Gold’s (former executive vice president & general manager, Warner Bros. Records) monumental survey of 101 “essential” LPs would have validated the opinions and tastes of so many classic rock snobs, vinyl fetishists, and musical outliers. It also could have been a treasure map for young cultural explorers. In an era of extensive online music criticism and instantaneous access to information (not to mention the music itself), this collection of casual and mildly charismatic ruminations about essential records feels slight and cursory. As a result, this insider gives readers paltry insight into a bygone era. The selections are made up of the usual suspects of rock hierarchy: Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Even the lesser-known favorites run the same old gamut: Moby Grape, Love, et al. Granted, reading anecdotes from various rockers from David Bowie to Suzanne Vega is fun, but most of these entries are neither too deep nor invested.
Verdict Essentially, this is a coffee-table book for rock fans young or old; a striking title designed to launch conversations of a specific, pointed variety. It’s cool but not as cool as it would have been 20 years ago.—Rob Morast, Norfolk, VA
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