From Adele to Ziggy, The Real A to Z of Rock and Pop

Dylan Jones

Picador ($25)

“It's not what you like but what you are like that's important,” wrote Nick Hornby in High Fidelity—words that come to mind when perusing Dylan Jones's sprawling testament to the music he's loved and hated over his adult life. Organized alphabetically, the book offers hundreds of entries, starting with A Tribe Called Quest and ending with Frank Zappa (so much for the "From Adele to Ziggy" of the book's subtitle), but while it's too personal to be a useful reference and the very definition of overwrought, the book has a weighty charm, like listening to a chatty friend wax from fascinating to boring over one-too-many drinks. At some point a dismissive entry will inevitably aggravate the reader, only to be forgiven for a smart insight, impassioned defense, or deft turn of phrase. Probably best devoured in small bits from a porch chair or in the loo, Jones's dictionary is a window into one darn smart music lover's soul—and a refractive lens for your own.