Friday, January 02, 2009

I'd been considering getting Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die even before reading Christgau's essay on it, but man is this thing rich. It's the kind of record guide that I have no trouble imagining anyone who might be interested in it being prompted to investigate at least a couple of selections. Moon is a damn good writer (he's basically the Jon Pareles of Philly, and has a background as a jazz saxophonist), though there are a lot of minor errors (wrong years attributed a few times, and a wincer in attributing James Brown calling out for Robert McCullough to "play some 'Trane, brother," which he did in "Super Bad," to "Sex Machine") and he can be a little starry-eyed, cf. his Dark Side of the Moon write-up. Still, that's not a bad thing at all--his enthusiasm for prog and fusion mark him as a '70s kid who unashamedly still digs his old favorites but isn't remotely trapped by them. He's got big-tent ears, even if they don't entirely line up with yours or mine, and the fact that they don't is part of what I like about the book. I haven't even started any of the 150 classical selections, outside of modernists like Reich and Glass, though I expect to sometime. But goddamn is this thing lively and varied. Despite a half-dozen Beatles inclusions and three Dylans, etc., not to mention "Good Vibrations" (buncha singles, not just albums) as "the highest expression of the art of the pop single," this never feels remotely like a rote canon dust-off. It's readily apparent that a ton of work went into it, which alone makes it trustworthy. I am tempted to try to get everything in it.