Monday, April 7, 2014

Rating Records

The Billboard Book of Top 40 AlbumsThe Billboard Book of Top 40 Albums by Joel Whitburn
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get me some stats, stat! Quantifying and qualifying, I did it to everything. I used to give my own 5-star ratings to the albums I'd buy. Hell, I even rated my own music, the stuff I'd play and record on my boombox! But then you must be wondering, why didn't I become a statistician? Damn good question, but we're getting off track...

My love for numbers and rankings drove me to buy The Billboard Book of Top 40 Albums, a book that lists the charting achievements of popular music acts. You get the group or artist name and a little background such as when they formed or were born as well as where. Then comes a list of their albums and the date they entered the Billboard top 40, alongside that is the album's peak position and then the number of weeks it stayed in the top 40. If the album sold enough units to attain gold or platinum status it's given a designation symbol beside the title. As a bonus, in the back of the book you also get a bunch of record holder lists like Top 100 Artists of the Rock Era, Top 25 Artists by Decade, Albums of Longevity, etc.

It wasn't just about the numbers (I'm not a complete spazz!). You could learn a thing or two of use from this book if you really tried. For instance, the group Ram Jam was an "East Coast rock quartet led by Bill Bartlett (lead guitarist of The Lemon Pipers). Member Howie Blauvelt played bass in Billy Joel's group The Hassles." As of 1977, Ram Jam has put out one album which charted for four weeks and made it as high as #34. So there you are! Now go forth with this new information and become the life of the party!

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