Entry for December 06, 2006


Gala History Rewrite!


Edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson

(Random House/Rolling Stone Press)

Disregard the sheer pomposity and egotism responsible for this book’s publication. Consider it only as the editors intended it, a permanent reference work that, as Dave Marsh has it, is “designed at least as much for the general reader as for the rock cultist.”

Take a look at this $8.95 masterwork and, if possible, ignore the back cover blurbs. All of them. Even: “The Guide is true to the spirit of Rolling Stone, the world’s most authoritative rock magazine: witty, opinionated and, above all, knowledgeable.”

Take it all at face value. This is a catalog of contemporary records, most of them still in print, each of the almost 10,000 assigned one to five stars. Great idea, right? Best of all, almost five pages of five-star LPs are listed in the back. Just clip them out, take a few thousand bucks to any well-stocked record store and you too can walk away with an indispensable, comprehensive collection that would, by definition, rival Dave Marsh’s.

Keep in mind the obvious altruism involved in this book’s publication as you read our own altruistic listings of errors, errors we found during the first 30 minutes of skimming through this luxurious tome:

1) Mink DeVille is listed twice, once under “M” and once under “D,” and given different ratings respectively.

2) Marsh calls Them’s classic “Mystic Eyes” a “harmonica-driven instrumental”; harmonica-driven it is, instrumental it isn’t.

3) Wildlife is referred to as Mott The Hoople’s “disastrous second album”; what happened to Mad Shadows?

4) Marsh calls Lothar & the Hand People’s Space Hymn their only album; it isn’t.

5) The two Rabbitt albums on Capricorn are attributed to John “Rabbit” Bundrick; instead, they’re the work of Trevor Rabin’s South African band Rabbitt, and have nothing to do with “southern funk.” Unless you consider apartheid rhythmic.

6) Fever Tree’s one hit is noted as “‘Where Do You Go,’ popularly known as ‘San Francisco Girls’”; the hit was actually “Return of the Native.”

7) Marsh lists Twin Sons of Different Mothers as a collaborative effort by Tim Weisberg and Kenny Loggins; Loggins, however, had nothing to do with it. Dan Fogelberg did.

8) A Utopia LP on Kent Records is described as “Todd Rundgren’s idea of a joke”; Todd wasn’t laughing, though, as this dopey band wasn’t at all related to his own Utopia.

9) Marsh says “Tell Her No” by the Zombies spawned the careers of Rod Argent and Russ Ballard; Ballard was never in the Zombies.

10) Robert Wyatt is said to have left Soft Machine after the band’s third album; actually he left after their fourth.

11) Half of the Wilde Flowers, not Wildflower, later became Soft Machine; the other half continued and eventually became Caravan.

12) Marsh says Pacific Gas & Electric’s Get It On was preceded by the band’s Columbia LPs; it wasn’t, it’s their first album.

13) The two sides of Pink Floyd’s Meddle are confused; furthermore its side-long “title track” is called “Echoes.”

14) Michael Brown’s post-Stories band the Beckies supposedly had a lead singer who “sings high when he means it and like Bryan Ferry when he doesn’t”; actually the band had two different lead singers.

15) And Van Der Graaf Generator recorded four LPs for U.S. Mercury, not three.


1) All of this was obtained through a totally random sampling. And there’s probably lots more good stuff like this throughout the book.

2) We’re not even discussing the ratings these albums got. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, etc.

3) The closest thing to a British counterpart this book’s got, Nick Logan &Bob Woffinden’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, is described as “a comprehensive volume … full of errors.”

4) Future editions of Guide are apparently being planned.

5) A large portion of the above mistakes are by Dave Marsh, the…main editor? co-editor?

6) Some great ideas should remain great ideas.

(CREEM, April 1980)


One Response to “Entry for December 06, 2006”

  1. Bob O Says:

    At least Bruce Springsteen got a good review.

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