Content — 9
Get ready for a crazy trip down memory lane. If you haven't kept your old rock magazines in a box somewhere for safe keeping, don't worry. Rolling Stone has just made it a little easier -- no, a lot easier -- to access all of their archives. The new release Rolling Stone: Cover To Cover is a multi-disk DVD set that chronicles every page of every issue from the legendary magazine. Whether you lived through the eras of Bob Dylan and John Lennon, or perhaps just want to see who was at the top of the charts back in 1991, it's now easily accessible. It's almost overwhelming when you first begin to scan over everything, but once you get the hang of the search system you're likely to be sitting in front of your computer for quite a long time. Getting started with Rolling Stone: Cover To Cover does take a little more effort than just inserting your average DVD. The collection is made for PC or Mac use, with one full disk devoted to setting up a Bondi Reader system. In the package, you'll receive a small sheet of directions, which will lead you through the entire setup of the software. It only takes a few minutes, and you're then ready to insert any of the other 3 disks to start accessing the archives. You can search the database in a variety of ways, with the basic key word option being just one of them. Want to see an old cover with Kurt Cobain on it? No problem. How about a letter to the editor regarding that hell-raiser Marilyn Manson? Again, no worries. Rolling Stone has special search categories that will lead you to the right place. Disk 1 covers the biggest chunk of history, focusing in between November 1967 and 1983. This was probably the magazine's most influential and memorable era, and it's pretty amazing to read through the vast number of articles about Lennon, The Doors, Marvin Gaye, and Keith Moon. If you didn't live through this time period, this collection of articles will truly open your eyes to an exceptional era for music. Disk 2 and disk 3 cover the eras up until the present day, and that in itself is a blast from the past, whether you read one of the Smashing Pumpkins cover stories or a letter from the editor about everything that's wrong with The Grammys.
Production Quality — 9
Even with a few problems here and there, it's hard to complain about the setup of Rolling Stone's archiving system given the massive amount of material it's covering. It's pretty much foolproof in terms of finding what you're looking for in the catalog -- although it may take a few more minutes than your average Google search. After you search for a particular item, the results will be listed by relevance and it may take a while to sift through what you need. You can refine your search by looking at specific years, and that in itself can narrow things down immediately. The search results will include any year that features the key word, regardless of which disk you currently have in the drive. This means that there will be multiple times when you find the information you need, but the computer brings up a message to insert a different disk to access the material. While it's a bit annoying, it thankfully doesn't take much more effort than inserting the correct disk. Once you do that, the article immediately pops up without delay.
Overall Impression — 9
In terms of what you're getting with Cover To Cover, it's absolutely worth purchasing. Your typical music DVD will last an hour or 2, but this DVD-Rom could essentially keep you busy for years down the road. Along with the disks, you also receive an incredible coffee table book with various images/contents from each year of Rolling Stone. While there are some brief descriptions in the book, it's primarily about the visuals -- and those do look much more vibrant in the book than on the DVD. Probably one of the coolest bonuses is the one-year subscription to Rolling Stone that you receive free with purchase of Cover To Cover. Sure, it's not as good as it once was, but it's a nice touch. So even if you're not wild about what the magazine has done in the past few years (Lindsay Lohan and Ben Affleck), the collection as a whole certainly is a reminder of what Rolling Stone did to shape music over the past few decades.