Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wood for the trees...

Like a lot of people my age (31) it has become necessary to harvest down my ever growing collection of music, books and DVD’s. After all my twenties (especially the second half) was a hazy time of madness, alcohol and self medication that resulted in a lot of bad purchases ranging from mandolins (still haven’t learnt it) to Lightspeed Champion's solo debut (haven’t got past track 4). Various Freddy King and Ike Turner reissues still in the plastic clutter up my shelves and although I would consider myself a fan of both never find myself reaching for these compilations at any time.


With the influx of industry freebies coming through the door and those pushed into my palms at gigs when I recently sat down and had a quick flick through the pile to hopefully separate the weak from the chaff I found myself wondering why I owned so much drivel and peacefully disregarded them at the alter of musicmagpie.com.

Albums are like clothes, when you’re living in the times they were made and fashionable they seem like the bread and butter of your whole personality, but add the benefit of 10-15 years on top and your amazing vintage boot cut jeans which you envisioned yourself wearing until you were 50 seem as inviting as a ‘Best Soft Rock Ballads ever’ compilation that was given away free with the Sunday newspaper one hung-over morn.


I started off with Blues. It was the genre that was the root of my musical playing guitar wise. Hours, weeks, days and years were spent copping licks from Albert Collins, B.B King, Albert King and Buddy Guy records on repeat from the sanctuary of my teenage bedroom. Despite the rose tinted glasses I can’t think of the last time I pulled out Guy’s ‘Stone Crazy’ or Collin’s ‘Ice Pickin’ (both which I used to love) and played it for listening pleasure alone. Has my musical palette changed so drastically or is it a case of eating cereal everyday for 20 years and then one morning you’re just not hungry at all?

You must be ruthless when having a clear out. They are just cd’s, no one is judging you and by throwing away a Babyshambles single (that you already had on the album anyway) doesn’t mean you’re throwing your memories of nights gone by at Pete Doherty secret gigs and throwing great times into the void, it’s simply about shelf space. Many friends made the complete move over to digital years ago, as soon as ITunes appeared on the scene many downloaded their whole collections and then sold them all to the record exchange in the knowledge that everything was safe and secure on their lovely shiny hard drive. Unfortunately 9/10 times they then either dropped a drink on their computer, sat on their laptop or just downloaded another ‘free’ song which was so ravaged with computer viruses that if it was a horse it would’ve been shot shortly after and their collections were once again back to zero.

Should we use the same old maxim that is given to our wardrobes for our music collections? If you haven’t fancied listening to an album in 2 years, you have to accept that you probably never will and bin it. Can we be that hard lined with the soundtracks of our lives? Should we realise that the ‘3 for £20’ sales are just tricks to make us consume more 2-3 star albums that we didn’t want for free but as they are in the sale are worth a score of your hard earned cash?

There are some mainstays of course. The Beatles (repeated listens regularly), Bob Dylan (although I could probably fling a few out from the ‘Street Legal’ phase and 6 cd’s of ‘The Basement Tapes’ is definitely overkill for anyone), Jimi Hendrix is solid and definitely gets played a few times a year to keep me on my musical toes (although the 'BBC sessions' could probably get lost without me noticing). The rest are a mixed bag of styles and artists that get the occasional nod but are really there for other people to notice and pull out so I can educate them in why their collections are rubbish and pointless.


My ‘desert island disc’ choices would be pretty easy if I was completely honest as probably without me noticing I could check the glove compartment of the car or look at my ‘most played’ tracks on my iPod to quickly make a true and accurate list. Of course if you asked me down the pub I’d rattle off some long lost 1965 ‘45’ by a defunct Detroit garage rock group followed by Radiohead and finally resolved with a new band from Japan who’s MySpace page I found when looking for an old school mate.

A total of 80 cd’s were shaved off the collection and are no longer in my flat. The scary thing isn’t that I’ll immediately go and recoup all the sold titles when they are digitally re-mastered and remixed next year or that some long forgotten group will return on a wave of nostalgia and everyone will be talking about how “they always liked them”, but more the case that I could probably ditch another 80 without breaking a sweat. Have I always had such bad taste in music?


Glove compartment mainstays:


Hunky DoryDavid Bowie

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsDavid Bowie

Safe as MilkCaptain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Submarine original soundtrackAlex Turner

The Singles collectionThe Smiths

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