Life just got better if you're the sort of music lover whose taste swings from Lyle Lovett to Little Richard, gospel to grunge. It comes in the form of a terrific new guide: “1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die,” by Tom Moon (Workman Publishing, $19.95, paperback).
The title pretty much nails the premise, and the author delivers on the promise. Moon, a regular contributor to NPR's “All Things Considered,” delivers a delicious smorgasbord of listening recommendations. From classical to Alice Cooper, folk to Faron Young, he offers up authoritative advice to the genre jumpers who love it all.
Moon focuses mostly on albums, delivering smart primers on each work and what sets it apart. He includes key tracks, making it a downloader's dream. Tip for those who buy their music 99 cents at a time: instead of listening to a 30-second snippet on iTunes, go to songza.com , where you can hear entire cuts for free.
There are many perfectly fine music guides out there, but I've never seen one this smart, this lively and, well, this much fun. Even the index is a blast.
There are marvelous surprises throughout. My favorite: 10cc's “I'm Not In Love” from the '70s made the list as the “moodiest hit single ever.” Disappointments lurk, too, of course. Minnie Ripperton makes the cut, but no B-52s? Somewhere, a rock lobster waves his mighty claws asking: Why?
Forgive Moon the occasional clinker, though. For my money, it's the most fun you can have without going into a record store.