Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reboot, AMG, and Enuff Z'nuff, part 1

Well, let’s try that again.

After not updating for, what? two months, and sending out an email that failed to actually contain the link for the blog, I’m back on. This time I mean it. I’m going to be updating this regularly.

On to the topical…

If there is anything like a critical conventional wisdom in pop music, it’s to be found at http://www.allmusic.com/. Actually, it’s to be found all over the Internet, including in product blurbs at amazon.com and in the itunes store, but it originates with allmusic.

Allmusic started by publishing hard copy Allmusic Guide books in the 90’s. You can still get these at most good bookstores. Their 3rd edition of the Allmusic Guide to Rock (2002) is getting to be a little out-dated, but is still probably the best single volume collection of music reviews on the market. (A nice resource for second opinions is Mojo Magazine’s “Mojo 1000” CD buying guide (2001), also starting to get a bit out of date. It offers a distinctly British point of view. More on Mojo, in a couple posts.) I also find the 2nd edition of the Allmusic Guide to Blues (2003) to be a vital reference, and one that won't go out of date as easily. There are also Guides to Country, Jazz, Classical music, etc., etc.

Since about the turn of the century, AMG seems to have devoted fewer resources to their publishing, and more to their web site development. Allmusic.com is a web site with an encyclopedic database of artists and albums, with biographies, discographies, and reviews for an astounding array, covering rock, pop, blues, jazz, soundtracks, classical music, country, and pretty much everything else. If you want to know more about an artist, album, or song, this is the place to go. And as I mentioned before, many on-line music resources take their content directly from the content at allmusic. Heck, Cub Koda’s liner notes in the Link Wray album I recently got (Extra points for two Link Wray mentions in two blog entries? We’ll see how long I can continue the streak…) are simply an abridged version of his Link Wray biography on the website.

As such, the blogs, reviews, and ratings the contributors provide for the site are a pretty good indication of the critical zeitgeist with regard to an artist or album, and they have seldom steered me wrong. I have yet to pick up a 5-star album that wasn’t at the very least worth hearing, if not extraordinarily good. I tend to read Allmusic’s ratings as follows: 5 stars – Must buy regardless of genre – any music lover should have it in his/her collection; 4½ stars – If you like the genre, you’ll like the album; 4 stars – if you like the artist, you’ll like the album; 3 stars or less… there’s way too much better music in the world for you to bother with this one. But that’s just me.

One thing I’ll often do, when I’m bored and clicking around the ‘Net, is to start with an artist that I’m currently obsessing over, and start reviewing the “Similar Artists” links on allmusic.com. I’ve come across a lot of great music that way that I may never have otherwise have picked up.

That’s what led me to Enuff Z’Nuff.

Next up: Part 2

No comments: