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MusicHound (sometimes stylized as musicHound) was a compiler of genre-specific music guides published in the United States by Visible Ink Press between 1996 and 2002. After publishing eleven album guides, the MusicHound series was sold to London-based Music Sales Group, [1] whose company Omnibus Press had originally distributed the books outside America. The series' founding editor was Gary Graff, [2] formerly a music critic with the Detroit Free Press . [1]

Visible Ink Press, LLC is a publisher of popular reference works. Its headquarters are in Canton Charter Township, Michigan in Metro Detroit. It was founded in 1989 as an imprint of Gale and later spun-off as an independent company in 2000. The Handy Answer Book Series is published by Visible Ink, as were the MusicHound Essential Album Guides.

Music Sales Group is a global music publisher, with headquarters in Berners Street, London. In March 2017, Music Sales Group has acquired disco publisher Bleu Blanc Rouge from Belgian record producer and songwriter Jean Kluger. In April 2018, Music Sales sold its physical and online print divisions, including Musicroom, to Milwaukee-based publisher Hal Leonard for $50 million. Hal Leonard will continue to distribute Music Sales' publishing catalogue worldwide.

Omnibus Press is the world's largest specialist publisher of music-related books. It publishes around 30 new titles a year to add to a backlist of over 250 titles currently in print.


Subtitled "The Essential Album Guide", each publication typically contained entries providing an overview of an artist's career and dividing their work into categories such as "what to buy", "what's next", "what to avoid" and "worth searching for". [3] Among the MusicHound album guides were titles dedicated to rock, blues, classical, jazz, world music, swing, and soundtrack recordings. Further to the canine analogy in the series title, albums were graded according to a "bone" rating system: five bones constituting the highest score, down to a bold-rendered "woof!", signifying "dog food". [4]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

Graff has said that he had envisioned the books as buyer's guides, specifically: "something akin to a good record store clerk or that fellow shopper you meet while you're looking through the racks and with whom you strike up a spontaneous conversation". [1] Gale-owned Visible Ink also published a series of VideoHound film guides, beginning with 1996's Golden Movie Retriever. [5]

Gale (publisher) educational publishing company based in Farmington Hills, Michigan

Gale is an educational publishing company based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, west of Detroit. Since 2007 it has been a division of Cengage Learning.

MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide

Edited by Gary Graff and published in 1996, MusicHound Rock was the first guide in the series. [1] A revised edition appeared in 1999, co-edited by Graff and Daniel Durchholz. [6] Among the guide's reviewers were US music critics Joel Selvin ( San Francisco Chronicle ), Mark J. Petracca ( Creem ), Greg Kot ( Chicago Tribune , Rolling Stone ), Brian Mansfield ( USA Today ), Thor Christensen ( Dallas Morning News , Spin ), and Roger Catlin ( Hartford Courant ). [7] Other contributors included: Gary Pig Gold, who went on to work on six subsequent MusicHound guides; [8] Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock, co-founding editors of No Depression magazine; The Big Takeover publisher Jack Rabid, who had previously written for Trouser Press 's record guide; [9] Guitar World editor Alan Paul; and Anders Wright, [7] news editor of the music website Wall of Sound. [10] In 1996, the book contained entries for some 2500 artists; in this first edition, the reviewers deemed that 541 albums were worthy of a five-bone rating. [11]

Joel Selvin American journalist

Joel Selvin is an American San Francisco-based music critic and author known for his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle which ran from 1972 to 2009. Selvin has written books covering various aspects of pop music—including the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock with Sammy Hagar—and has interviewed many musical artists. Selvin has published articles in Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, and Melody Maker, and has written liner notes for dozens of recorded albums. He has appeared in documentaries about the music scene and has occasionally taken the stage himself as a rock and roll singer.

<i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> newspaper serving the San Francisco Bay area

The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of northern California in the United States. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000. It is the only major daily paper covering the city and county of San Francisco.

Dusty Wright American musician

Dusty Wright is an American musician, producer, and writer, and a former editor-in-chief of the music magazine Creem. In August 2005, he co-founded the audio podcasting and video webcasting online pop-culture magazine, which features his interview series The Dusty Wright Show. Interviews from the show were among the very first video and audio podcasts featured at iTunes with such guests as Ron Howard, Gore Vidal, Jim Marshall, Budd Hopkins, and board advisor David Lynch.

The 1999 edition came with a CD, supplied by Capitol Records, [12] and included "What album changed your life?" sidebars written by celebrity musicians. Among the latter contributors were the following: Joan Baez, Peter Buck, Adam Clayton, Phil Collins, Jakob Dylan, Ben Harper, Mickey Hart, Lenny Kravitz, Simon LeBon, Stevie Nicks, Lou Reed, Robbie Robertson, Patti Smith, Sting and Pete Townshend. [13] The book's foreword was written by Doug Fieger, [14] singer and guitarist with the Knack. [15] Writing in The Riverfront Times in July 1999, Jason Toon noted "some unique elements" that the guide offered – such as details on each artist's main influences and who they in turn influenced – while comparing MusicHound Rock with reference works by Penguin, Rough Guide and AllMusic. [16]

Capitol Records American record label

Capitol Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label "of note" in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.

Joan Baez American singer

Joan Chandos Baez is an American singer, songwriter, musician and activist. Her contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages.

Peter Buck guitarist for R.E.M., songwriter, record producer

Peter Lawrence Buck is an American musician and songwriter who is best known as co-founder and lead guitarist of the alternative rock band R.E.M.

Other publications

MusicHound Classical: The Essential Album Guide (1996)
MusicHound Country: The Essential Album Guide (1997)
MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide (1997)
MusicHound Folk: The Essential Album Guide (1998)
MusicHound R & B: The Essential Album Guide (1998) [19]
MusicHound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide (1998) [20]
MusicHound Lounge: The Essential Album Guide to Martini Music and Easy Listening (1998)
MusicHound Swing!: The Essential Album Guide (1999) [21]
MusicHound Soundtracks: The Essential Album Guide to Film, Television and Stage Music (1999)
MusicHound World: The Essential Album Guide (2000)


  1. 1 2 3 4 Ward, Steven. "Losin' His Mind in Detroit Rock City: An Interview with Gary Graff". Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. Weingarten, Emily (October 17, 2006). "Interview Record (Gary Graff)". University of Michigan School of Music. Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  3. Jordan, Miles (July–August 1999). "Jazz Reviews: MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide". JazzTimes . Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  4. Graff and Durchholz, p. xiii.
  5. Craddock, Jim. "VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 1997". Goodreads . Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  6. "MusicHound rock: the essential album guide / edited by Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives . Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  7. 1 2 Graff and Durchholz, pp. xvi–xxii.
  8. "Gary Pig Gold". Rock's Backpages . Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  9. Toon, Jason (July 21, 1999). "Rock Stock: A book report on the best tomes to consult before buying tunes [continued]". Riverfront Times . Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  10. Hiatt, Brian (February 25, 2000). "Academy Restricted L.A. Times' Grammys Coverage, Paper Says". . Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  11. "Gary Graff – MusicHound". Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  12. Henkle, Douglas H. (July 31, 2014). "MusicHound / VideoHound (books) Discography". FolkLib. Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  13. Graff and Durchholz, pp. vii–viii.
  14. "Alibris listing". Alibris. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  15. The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, p. 552.
  16. Toon, Jason (July 21, 1999). "Rock Stock: A book report on the best tomes to consult before buying tunes". Riverfront Times . Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  17. Terry, Peter (June 15, 1998). "Book Review: MusicHound Folk: The Essential Album Guide". Retrieved November 13, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  18. Mabus, Joel (October 1998). "MusicHound Folk". Folk Alliance Newsletter. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  19. "Blues Books: Listing and reviews of the blues in literature". Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  20. Terry, Peter (December 16, 1998). "Book Review: MusicHound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide". Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  21. Wood, Joe (1999). "MusicHound's Swing!". RetroSpective. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  22. Wheeler, Jeffrey (December 1999). "December 1999 Film Music CD Reviews: MusicHound Soundtracks". Film Music on the Web. Retrieved November 14, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  23. PSF staff (November 1999). "MusicHound World". Perfect Sound Forever . Retrieved November 14, 2014.


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