BOOK REVIEW: Music Quake

“Music has been the same for so long. It’s like: please, can we get something else?” – Pankpantheress

From Robert Dimery (the guy who bought you 1,001 Albums/Songs You Must Hear Before You Die), comes a new small concise 200-page volume about the history of modern music, from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to Stormzy.

Music Quake is one of “a bold new series” of books, published by Frances Lincoln, “charting popular culture’s most disruptive, rebellious and ground breaking works.”

Music Quake lists 50 pivotal moments from musical history in the past century. The selection is a healthy mix of the well-known and the more obscure genres most people don’t know about, from Rhapsody in Blue to Os Mutantes, via John Cage’s 4’33”. A lot of things for the casual reader to discover, as well as the familiar.

Exploring the history of modern music can be a daunting task. There is A LOT of explore, from ABBA to ZZ Top. Where do you start? The Beatles? Elvis? Even keeping things to just what was mainstream can be tricky. But the full story of modern music can’t be satisfactory covered by just telling who was in the pop charts. You need to understand that works that influenced these artists too, such as the Blues records that shaped early Rock n Roll. So, making such a concise history of modern music is a challenge, even for a veteran music writer like Robert Dimery. Choosing which moments to cover must have been harder than choose those 1001 albums and songs. For that I applaud you.

The book is up to date, covering the roles of the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements in shaping music today. Music does not happen in a vacuum. The best music throughout history, as shown in this book, are ones that are a result of the movements happening in the artist’s world at the time of creation. Which is why, along with the music history, they are lists of world events that happened during the time periods covered in the book. They provide context for those ignorant of history.  

They are more comprehensive books on the subject of the history of modern music, but they can be intimidating in their physical size. Music Quake is printed in a perfect size. It’s not intimidatingly big and not too small to look like it contains too little worth reading. Idea for the casual reader.

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