Released: 2005, Collectors Guide Publishing Inc.
Martin Popoff has just released his 30th book on Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. His work hasn’t been getting nearly enough attention in our book reviews section. As of 2011 we’ve only reviewed five of his 30 titles on this site. Well to celebrate the 30th book milestone of sorts, this month (March, 2011) I’m going to go back to the core of his writing career and review the four (or five or six depends how you count) books that are the collections of his reviews. I’ve already reviewed the title THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL VOLUME I: THE 70’s back in 2004. Click here for review. http://www.metal-rules.com/review/viewreview.php
Also reviewed in this series this month are the original COLLECTORS GUIDE and the decade themed follow-up series, the 80’s, 90’s and the newbie the 00’s. Plus we’ll look at his very first book going way back to 1993 RIFF KILLS MAN, the book that started it all. Incase you are confused yet here’s how it works.
RIFF KILLS MAN! (1993)
COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL (1997, the upgraded version of RIFF KILLS MAN)
COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume I The Seventies (2003)
COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 2: The Eighties (2005)
COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 3: The Nineties (2007)
COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 4: The 00’s (2011)
There will be a bit of repetition in this feature/series of book reviews due to the similar nature of each title but each book has it’s quirks and charms. Let’s get to it!
By now, a little over ten years after Popoff’s debut title RIFF KILLS MAN! Martin had established himself as the world’s leading expert on Heavy Metal. With a magazine, web-sites and about 13 books under his belt it was time to tackle the unthinkable, namely try to compile as many Heavy Metal reviews as possible.
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL VOLUME 2: THE EIGHTIES as a book is slightly more sterile than the last one. Martin streamlined the book in a few ways. The album covers are reduced in number. The dual rating system is dropped and he reverts back to the classic 10-point system. He also drops his acknowledgments, drops his lists of favourites, streamlines his appendices down to two a couple of lists one of them summarized from his recent (at the time) book THE TOP 500 HEAVY METAL ALBUMS OF ALL TIME. He simply ranks the 80’s albums onto a list. Overall some of the personal charm is diminished but there is a greater purity of purpose. The album cover is now purple and the music on the bonus CD is now provided by Metal Blade Records.
430 pages this times around and a pretty massive collection of reviews. It doesn’t actually say how many reviews there are in the book but according to his web-site there are just over 2500 reviews. That is a very decent percentage of all the records out in that decade. Remember, at this point Metal is still only a teenager and hasn’t morphed into the uncontrollable, rampaging multi-genre Frankenstein’s monster it is today. Martin covers almost all of the mainstream stuff and as a bonus to me was the massive amount of rare underground stuff he covered as well. It is a treasure trove of information for the collector and archivist.
In terms of writing style, his writers fatigue hasn’t set in quite yet as he still embraces almost everything that decade provides. That’s not to say that all bands get a free ride. He rips on the late decade entry into the Melodic Hard Rock field, bands like Warrant, Winger and Danger Danger get no love. Neither do some of the early Death Metal albums. The book is not tainted with the inclusion of industrial, grunge and alt-metal sub-genres because they weren’t really around yet, so this is by far the most ‘Metal’ of all the collections. It speaks to me because I own about 75% of these albums…on cassette.
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL VOLUME 2: THE EIGHTIES is my favorite of the series. It’s not just misty-eyed nostalgia reading old reviews of old bands I grew up listening to. It’s more than that. The book really gets deep into the bands, the analysis, and deep into the underground as well as describing the movement that some describe as the golden age of Metal. The writing is positive, precise and witty with Martin really refining his style. This title is best of the series by a slight margin.