My son and his friends at school play this game with Wikipedia where someone nominates a start page, say, Julia Gillard, and then someone else nominates an end page, say, the Codex Veronensis, and then you have to use the links embedded in Wikipedia to move from the start page to the finish page. The person who gets there in the least number of clicks wins.
Rock Connexions is kind of like a rock music, book version of that game. It lists a vast range of the major popular music artists from the ’50s to the noughties, and then it uses a range of textual devices — stylised coloured picks, timelines, “play buttons”, numbered arrows, etc — to link one entry to another.
It’s a bit confusing at first, but after a while you start to happily follow these links from one page to another and the net effect is to give you a pretty decent overview of how the various artists are linked to each other. Who influenced whom; who has recorded whose songs; who has shared time in a band with whom; who has played a gig or recorded an album at a given venue, and the like.
In fact, it isn’t just artists. There are entries on music labels, venues and festivals as well, and that adds another layer of interconnection that fleshes out the whole six-degrees-of-separation thing nicely.
I was a bit dubious when I first looked at this book, concerned that it was a bit of a gimmicky, lightweight coffee-table tome. But those concerns proved, largely, unfounded. Yes, it does offer a fairly cursory glimpse of some bands, but it is still a hell of a lot of fun.
Dip in and dip out and you’ll while away a pleasant few hours. I was also happy to hand it to my son — he’s 13, so the bulk of the book doesn’t cover the music he is into, but the very nature of it meant he found references to stuff he likes and was able to find some connections, between, say, Tori Amos (whom he loves) and Joni Mitchell (to whom he will now pay more attention).
That’s a very excellent thing.
The details: Rock Connexions is published by Murdoch Books. You know where to look.