The Philosophy Behind Rock Omnibus

In the midst of the Information Age, music is accessible everywhere, which works to solve one problem while creating yet another. With such a tremendous influx of data, sorting through all of it can be a daunting task. The media is quite adept at dumping piles of information at your feet, but where it doesn't function well is in providing adequate perspective of this digital onslaught. In our eagerness to become exposed to more and more of what's available in the music world, what we've been lacking is a way to filter through it effectively on a macro level. The media can't be the answer, because it's always going to be too preoccupied with being cutting edge for it to pause and take stock of the situation. They churn out songs, and for all they care everyone can make sense of them later. This helps us in the short-term, but ultimately leaves us out in the cold for the long-term. As a result, current events enthusiasts have a field day, while those interested in the historical or nostalgic — even a couple years back — are left to fend for themselves without any adequate tools.

Sure, microcosms do exist at every turn on the Internet, useful pockets of information in their own right, yet they're limited and typically specialized. The pop charts are but just one manifestation of this. But the eternal question persists — how to sift through it all without having to constantly wade through a glut of substandard material, while also not leaving out uncovered gems in the process. Rock Omnibus attempts to provide that very avenue for accomplishing this historically challenging task.

Even though the pop charts have pumped out a staggering 30,000 songs to date, the serious audiophile realizes that the majority of songs on the charts over the years has been filler to cover the radio playlists until more comes along. Let’s be honest — the recording industry tries to squeeze as much out of the music machine as it can for the sake of profits, not for the sake of artistry. It’s a business, and the business is to push a product, for better or worse. It’s the eternal struggle of art vs. economics. Other elements such as image sneak into the equation, things that often have little to do with the musical works themselves. Rock Omnibus supersedes this type of filler by highlighting only the significant chart hits — about 8,000 of them — and then including another set of 9,000 just-as-significant tracks that somehow eluded the charts.

The charts have thus been a necessary evil, in that we need a springboard from which to begin the discussion, and yet firm reliance on the charts proves to be a frustation. A most prescient '80s outift foreshadowed that "Pop Will Eat Itself," and we are now witnessing the sordid feast. Even Freddie Mercury chimed that someday all we'd hear is Radio Ga-Ga.

Rock Omnibus, therefore, is nothing near resembling a regurgitation of existing playlists, but is instead a completely fresh look at the musical landscape, meaning you’ll find considerable untapped music in the various rock and pop genres, including hundreds of artists either unknown to or ignored by the charts. And you'll even find on our list songs that were buried deep in albums of artists you already know, but which songs never got their rightful airplay.

Read our FAQ Section, and ask the author questions about the book.

See sample pages from the book...

17,800 Songs 5000 Songs Ranked 1000 Artists 1000 Albums 25 Songs
by Year

Download all sample pages (FREE) as one pdf file (768 KB)

Hover over the following link to see a sample from the 436-page pdf version of the book, previously sold at $12.95 — fully searchable and indexed with bookmarks.

Our list is believed to be the most comprehensive and eclectic compilation in existence of rock and related styled song rankings for the rock n’ roll era. If you want to dig beneath the pop charts and see what’s really out there at various junctures in rock and popular music, this is the right tool.

Rock Omnibus takes the perspective of rock music being the pantheon, and focuses most on rock and then pop styles, while also examining the significant offerings from related styles (jazz, country, folk, R&B, new age). The 2011 edition is the first in an ongoing project. The 2015 edition will be available in early 2015.

The list is organized according to significant tracks from each artist’s catalog, displaying songs in order of the overall ranking what are deemed by this system as the highest quality songs by each artist, along with the album title and running time of each ranked song. Click here to refer any of your friends to Rock Omnibus, and we'll send them an e-mail about our offer.

Perfect Tool For
Building a Playlist

What makes Rock Omnibus different:
■ Highlights thousands of lesser-known album tracks that the pop charts missed.
■ Integrates several genres along with rock and pop, including folk, jazz, country, new age, R&B and blues. (rap is not included)
■ Concerned less with the historical “influence” of an artist and more with the actual quality of the artist’s music. The mere idea that a musician began a trend makes them an innovator or pioneer, but it does not automatically make them better than others who later might have used a similar style.
■ Gives the year of recording for all 17,800 songs. For the ranked 5000 songs, gives the album name and track time.
■ Doesn’t treat every era as being equal. Notes the evolution of rock, reaching an apex in the late ‘60s and maintaining into the mid-‘70s, and then resurfacing briefly in the mid-‘80s.
■ Notes statistical evidence from overall chart trends that music quality through different eras has fluctuated.
■ Analyzes which time periods during the rock n' roll era produced the greatest amount of high-quality music.
■ Based on a systematic analysis rather than a mindless rehashing of the pop charts — or just as bad, a conglomeration of lists from reviewers whose expertise only crosses at the more popular songs.
■ Greater consistency — the author has personally listened to nearly every one of the 17,800 songs (as well as many more songs from the same albums that didn't make the list). Rock Omnibus doesn’t rate any song high unless the song is considered by us to be of true quality. Just because a song might have mass appeal does not automatically put it high on the list.
■ Goes back prior to the dawn of rock & roll, pre-1955. A sampling of listings from the 1940s as well as a few from earlier decades.
Below is a small random sampling of the wide array of 4000+ artists included in the Rock Omnibus Top 17,800, with the number of track listings on the list indicated for each corresponding artist. Several of the most prolific artists have over 40 songs listed in our rankings.

Who You'll Find On Our List:

... over 3,900 more!

See the Complete Artist Listing
Where did the Rock Omnibus list of songs come from?

The list developed organically, from the ground up. It wasn’t derived from any other lists, so it’s not a rehash. It was built one song at a time. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the songs were listened to individually and assessed by the author. (other unlistened-to songs were occasionally included among honorable mentions for their historical value)

The list was derived by meticulous research from several hundred websites, dozens of reference books, and then ultimately listening to approximately 100,000 songs over the course of three decades — from LPs, 45s, cassettes, CDs, broadcast radio, web radio, streaming players, web samples and mp3 files. The likes of Pandora, MusicMatch and Grooveshark stations as well as Amazon and Napster referrals for “what you’ll also like” have been indispensible for locating additional material. The vehicle has recently been there for opening up the music world, simply requiring perseverance and attention to detail to bring it all together.

The criteria for the song rankings is solely from the critical review of author Rusty Southwick, and with no correlation to the music chart success, or record sales, radio play or consensus critical review. Thus, what you’ll find is a greater overview of the rock n’ roll landscape, unencumbered by the churned-out product of the recording industry machine, along with its constituency of critics who will commonly try to put the best face on the wares they’re connected to. Rock Omnibus is affiliated with no industry or record label, and as a result is not compelled to be loyal to a certain product. What you get is straight analysis, with no allegiances going on behind the scenes.

Table of contents from the book

Rock Omnibus provides a thorough and wide scope of the best songs from the most significant artists in the six-decade rock n’ roll era into 2010. Rock Omnibus maintains the balance of comprehensiveness without peppering the list needlessly with inconsequential songs and artists for the music fan to wade through.

If you rely on the pop charts to outline a recommendation of the best songs within any grouping, what you get is a reflection of which songs were well-promoted, hyped, or anticipated, which had the best timing, which revolved around the best news stories, which had the most interesting video clips, which were on the major record labels, which were piggy-backing on hits from the same album, and other such arbitrary conditions. Not to mention that the charts play to the radio and video crowds, meaning that the catchy chorus is going to be emphasized heavily, at the expense of the more nuanced compositions.

All these extraneous concerns have been stripped away in Rock Omnibus. What's left is truly the best in rock and popular music. From the rock perspective and the other music surrounding it, this book explores the material that is most substantive. We think you'll agree it's the best music reference book on the market today.

Rock Omnibus 2011 Edition — Book
423 pages, 8½" x 11", spiral bound.

Benefits of the book:
• Easy to navigate and browse through, and the convenience of a book you can look at with others.
• You can highlight, mark, and make notes.

Rock Omnibus 2011 Edition — Online version
U.S. & International orders
    10.1 MB pdf file, 436 pages. A download link will be e-mailed to you.

Benefits of the online version:
• Searchable — Quickly look up names of songs to see what artist they're by.
• Quick navigation through indexed bookmarks.
• Stays with you wherever you take your computer or flash drive.

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