Library JournalAnyone who has used the 1992 first edition of this work, an LJ "Best Reference Book of 1992," will cheer the appearance of this updated set. Larkin and his team of editors, including many of the world's authorities on popular music, have amassed the largest and most comprehensive guide to "nonclassical" Western music: rock, pop, country, reggae, vaudeville, movie and theater music, blues, jazz, and other forms, from 1900 to today. Each of the 15,000 unsigned entries, ranging from 150 to 3000 words, focuses on either an individual (primarily performers, but also producers, impresarios, and others behind the scenes), recording label, or movie/stage show. Over 70 percent of the 1992 articles have been enlarged, and nearly all have been updated or emended. The show listings are completely new to this edition and add an exciting dimension. The central attraction of this work, however, lies in its massive, up-to-date performer coverage-nearly 50,000 named individuals. The average listing includes birth/death dates, career highlights and lowlights, a brief list of recordings (more entries now have label information), book-length biographies, and trivia. One-third are fully profiled (and Larkin is already at work on a third edition). The range of performers is incredible, from one-hit wonders like UK's Nick Berry to Aretha Franklin and The Doors. It's also hard to beat this work for currency; what other reference book profiles Hootie and the Blowfish? This encyclopedia is also one of the few sources to feature late-night TV gold-record sellers such as Richard Clayderman and Slim Whitman. Finally, readers put off by the first edition's British slant will be pleased to find more balance here. More than just a sourcebook, this highly attractive set is also highly readable and a browser's paradise. Beautifully bound and with improved typeface over 1992, it stands as the popular music equivalent to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Macmillan, 1980) and as such has no equal, in or out of print.-Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Tex.
School Library JournalGr 7 Up-- Popular music is presented in a serious way in this encyclopedic work that includes rock and roll, jazz, blues, soul, country, reggae, Latin, and African pop. No illustrations or photographs lighten the look, but almost any popular group or single performer of any note has an entry that includes the date of birth (when available), a short summary of the group or musician's work, and a list of recordings. A ``quick reference guide'' at the end of the fourth volume provides an alphabetical listing of all of the entries, and a lengthy index provides access to all of the musicians discussed. The six-volume Contemporary Musicians (Gale, 1989) is more attractive, and has photographs and longer articles as well as information on classical artists who have achieved crossover success. The Oxford Companion to Popular Music (1991) is also similar and includes terms such as jazz or reggae that the Guinness discusses in the introduction but not in separate entries. Other similar works are The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (1989) and The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul (St. Martins, 1989). While all of these works have been published fairly recently, The Guinness Encyclopedia is the most up to date and includes more African musicians, making it a good additional purchase. --Margaret Tice, Brooklyn Public Library
Zom ZomsOnly three years after the first edition ["RBB" F 15 93] comes an enlarged second edition of the most comprehensive guide to popular music available. Covering performers from many genres and countries (though predominately from the U.S. and U.K.), industry personalities, instruments, musicals and movies, and events, this edition includes more than 15,000 entries. The bulk of these are biographical and include dates, changes in lineups, important albums and singles, musical influences, and collaborations. Discographies and bibliographies close each entry. Essays range from several pages to a couple of paragraphs, and coverage runs the gamut from Bing Crosby to Johnny Hallyday, Green Jelly, Sister Souljah, Foday Musa Suso, and Porter Wagoner. Topical entries include Virgin Records, the film "Hear My Song", and Live Aid. Entries have been updated through early 1995, and there are 5,000 new entries (the set has grown from four to six volumes). Smashing Pumpkins, for example, was becoming popular at the time of the first edition and has been added. There is extensive use of "see also" references and a detailed index As with any set this large, there are errors, many of which have been carried over from the first edition. The place of death of Hank Williams still isn't correct. Doc Severinson played for and joked with Johnny Carson, not Merv Griffin. British usage is found in some entries. Karen Carpenter's problems with anorexia are described as "slimmer's disease. "Guinness" continues to be a valuable reference work. Its only drawback is the price, so close on the heels of the first edition. Libraries owning the first edition and on a limited budget may have to pass. Highly recommended for large public libraries and music libraries not owning the first edition.
- New England Publishing Associates, Incorporated
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