Christian Hoard invited me to write a batch of entries for the 4th edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide. This was in early 2003. They had already divied up much of the book, but had a number of big entries from the '70s that nobody had signed up for: Lou Reed, John Cale, Pink Floyd, Donna Summer, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, like that. I offered to do those and a few more, including most of the very few jazz and country artists who made their target list, plus a little alt-rap and reggae. By the time I joined in, the schedule left us something like two months to crank out 25 entries. Rounding up the records was a terrible ordeal. So was the writing, and the sheer amount of listening took its toll. So did world events: I spent the countdown from ultimatum to decapitation strike, the launch of George W. Bush's criminally insane invasion of Iraq, listening to Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

The original schedule called for the book to be published in the fall of 2003. They didn't make it, and on two occasions the editors asked for updates to keep the book as up-to-date as possible. The last of these updates were written in April 2004. The book itself was finally published in November 2004. What I'm publishing here are my working files. The top part of each page is the entry as I submitted it. This doesn't reflect any subsequent editing, for better or worse. (I haven't compared the book to my drafts. I have no doubts that a good editor could significantly improve the prose, and some day I may update these pages to take advantage of their efforts. On the other hand, just changing a rating isn't my idea of an improvement.) Following the entry are various notes, in some cases extensive, in others minimal. In some cases I link to entries from the 3rd edition, which I had the option of merely revising. (In all such cases I rewrote from scratch.)