MARTIN C STRONG The Great Rock Discography (Mojo)

I've only had this - the fifth edition of Mr Strong's mammoth, labour-of-love tome - in my hot little hands for a matter of minutes, but that's time enough to confidently state that he's trumped himself yet again. The fact that he manages to devote half a page to the exploits of the notoriously publicity-shy Canadian doom collective Godspeed You Black Emperor! should convince you of the man's ability to ferret out factual detail; the forward contributed by John Peel underlines the depth and relevance of that detail. This latest edition boasts over 200 pages of entirely new entries, a feat of packaging made possible at the cost of ditching Harry Horse's witty illustrations - shed a small tear. Amongst those new arrivals are the welcome reversal of the baffling absences of The Carpenters and Dusty Springfield and the overdue inclusions of pioneers such as Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. And if an omitted act has been covered in one of Strong's many other reference works you'll be told where to go, in the nicest possible sense.

If you crave rock reference material of any stripe, this is the book you should buy first. Yes, it's getting expensive - it says 35 on the back of my hardback edition (and realistically, given the amount of consultation a volume like this is bound to receive, you’d be short-sighted to opt for the more fragile paperback equivalent), although Amazon helpfully knocked a tenner off - but I defy any music lover to claim it's not worth the fee: after all, it carries enough information to absolves you from having to buy a Guinness British Hit Albums or Singles book ever again, and it's rapidly making even the wordy "Rock: The Rough Guide" appear an unnecessary irrelevance. Just about all that distances it from perfection for me is Strong's continued niggling omission of Lullaby For The Working Class: aside from that, it's the beginning and end of all but the most specialised rock reference library.