Marshall: The Book of Loud by Nick Harper
I love books of trivia and infographics – this book which is subtitled ‘An essential miscellany of musical knowledge’, is aimed squarely at the Christmas market. While fun, it doesn’t really have enough of either trivia or infographics, being saddled with too much filler – more on that later.
It is nice to hear the brief history of the Marshal amp, rock music’s workhorse since 1962, and the life of its developer. James ‘Jim’ Marshall was a Londoner and a drummer before starting up his eponymous company. He died in 2012, aged 88.
Back to the main content. There are some good fun bits: rock hairstyles, moustaches, famous custom guitars, etc. However, I can do without sets of double spreads being taken up by ‘Spotters Guides’ of which there are all kinds: from the ‘Indie Kid’ (right) to ‘Metal Kids’ and ‘Goths’ – yawn.
When a page called ‘At the Drive In’ starts: ‘Presenting what may well be rock music’s 11 greatest movies’ you know that:
a) This is Spinal Tap will be number one; but
b) The best ever rock movie – The Last Waltz will be too quiet for this list; and
c) Where are: The Beatles, The Wall, Still Crazy, Velvet Goldmine, Telstar, Tommy, Quadrophenia, Gimme Shelter, amongst many that could have been included?
By saddling themselves with the whole (immortal) Spinal Tap ‘goes up to 11’ concept for many of the lists in this book – they’ve severely limited its content, so masses of great trivia has been left out.
Then they go on to undermine their own concept by having a list of 12 banned album covers! (and no mention of the controversial Blind Faith cover either).
There are some very uninspired infographics too, viz ‘The Rock Calendar’ (left) with one track per month presented in a wheel? This could have been done so much better over a double page spread as a year planner or something, giving the opportunity to add more than one title per month…
My final beef was with their selection of ‘Legends of Loud’ subjects – 8 double-spreads consisting of a whole page drawing of said hero(ine) and a page of spaced-out text facts with few really interesting nuggets in there. The drawings are nice, but the text is very uninspiring.
Pictures-wise this book relies on drawings, supplemented by only a few album covers in colour and a few black and white photos. The drawings are nice actually and presumably kept the price down on getting photo permissions. There were not enough inventive infographics to depict the facts though – too many straight tables.
In summary, this could still be a bit of fun for non-rock-nerds for Christmas – dare I say it, a good toilet book. For me, it was a nice idea, poorly executed. (5/10)
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Source: Publisher via AV – thank you
Marshall: The Book of Loud – Nick Harper. (Mitchell Beazley, Sept 2016) Hardback, 160 pages.