'Encyclopedia of Country Music'
The fact that few can recall the names and authors of several previous attempts at compiling a Who's Who of Country music gives a good indication of how difficult and thankless a task it has been. Fortunately there has been enough high quality research in the past 20 years to make a work like this finally possible. The Country Music Foundation/Hall of Fame, led by Paul Kingsbury, has done an eminent job of producing a volume that fans and researchers can actually make serious use of. This is a thick and heavy work,well illustrated with many fine photos, but its main strength is in the top-notch writers and researchers the CMF has enlisted for concise,accurate and informative entries that range from a couple of paragraphs to perhaps a page and a half in length. Over 175 contributors were selected and the editors were sharp enough to assign the right people to the right subjects. Contributors include people like Charles Wolfe, Ivan Tribe, Bob Pinson, Rich Kienzle, Colin Escot, Dave Samuelson and Ronnie Pugh, and there are several well written essays on various subjects by people like Pugh, Bill Malone and Nolan Porterfield. The work is of course heavy on current day country artists, but there is a very good representation of Bluegrass and Old-time musicians covered, right down to people like Ashley's Melody Men, Earl Johnson, DaCosta Woltz, The Bluegrass Cardinals and Jimmy Murphy. Every serious fan will have his or her own gripes about who is included and who's not: personally I find it depressing and offensive to see the likes of Marie Osmond, Poco, Olivia Newton-John, Rhett Akins and Pinkard & Bowden included instead of peripheral, but really worthwhile country artists like Mac Odell, Jimmy Swan, Bonnie Lou & Buster, Bryon Parker, Ed Haley, Carl Sauceman, The Payne Family and Daisy Mae & Old Brother Charlie. A nice feature is a 12 page section of full color pictures of classic country LP jackets and there are some interesting charts and award listings in the addendum. All in all, an excellent job on a formidable task.