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Humphries, John
The Official Music Master-Heavy Metal (Book Review)
December 2011
Released: 1990, John Humphries Publishing
Rating: 2.0/5
Reviewer: JP

This is an interesting curio from a time gone by. Before the digital age, information about music releases were compiled by record labels and industry people. Naturally these lists would be recorded, maintained and updated by the industry. You could go to the actual record store and go to these huge binders of printed information and look up the basic info about an album or cassette and eventually CD, such as band name, album title, record label, catalogue number, format availability and year of release.

HEAVY METAL was first published in 1990 by the Music Master group, who were responsible for a wide number of similar, genre specific books. Essentially Music Master published the massive amount of data they had compiled into a paperback. It’s pretty massive with over 23,00 entries! There was a second edition published in 1994.

This paperback is now long out of print and of course 20+ years out of date but in the interest of being comprehensive for the Library Of Loudness and all you archivists out there, I’ll say a few words. This monster book is over 620 pages long and has about 100 small black and white photos. It has really tiny text, black on white, and alphabetical, chronological lists of album releases of many, many Hard Rock/Heavy Metal sub-genres. There is a brief introduction by Neil Jeffries who was with Kerrang! magazine at the time. There is a list of international distributors as well. I don’t believe this publication was really intended for broad public sale but more for libraries, retailers and record companies as a reference guide. It is more of a catalogue than an encyclopedia.

There is tons of information for the collectors, catalogue numbers and so on however much of this information is now available for free on the internet. Naturally, there was a bit more quality control and editorial discretion with this book compiled by professionals paid to try to accurately catalogue albums, whereas today, any kid can dump inaccurate info onto the net. With thousand of Metal releases coming out a year, books are no longer practical mediums to convey this much information, however back in 1990 this was pretty cool and the first of it’s kind. You can grab a used copy at a number of on-line retailers for a few dollars.
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