Sunday, 8 November 2009

An Introduction to my Music Collection

I suppose I cut my record collecting teeth in the late 1970s where, as an impressionable teenager, thanks to the John Peel radio show and the Melody Maker, I developed a liking for the UK punk and new wave sound. Initially it was about the music, snapping up 7" singles by the Clash, the Jam, the Damned, Generation X, the Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, Wire, XTC, the Skids, etc., and then later Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio, etc. As these became more collectable as the years went by, I started to hanker after the limited editions, picture sleeves, coloured vinyl, etc. I did always however only buy records that I liked, as opposed to anything that was rare regardless of whether or not I liked it. I also found myself exploring the various solo efforts, collaborations and spin-offs from the bands. I recall that Wire in particular spawned several groups, e.g. Dome, He Said, Duet Emmo, and of course the solo offerings from Colin Newman, Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis.

I never outgrew the punk and new wave sound and do still listen to it today, but of course my musical tastes expanded over the years, although it did take some doing. I remember the dilemma when I bought my first Neil Young record, as how could I, a punk, possibly like it. Assisted by the fact that John Peel played Neil Young records, I persuaded myself to buy "Harvest", closely followed by "After The Goldrush", and then pretty much all of his back catalogue, even venturing into Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and all their various spin-offs. I discovered some real classics along the way. In particular "If I Could Only Remember My Name" by David Crosby, "Wild Tales" by Graham Nash and the Mannassas (Stephen Stills) debut double LP to name but a few. I did however somehow manage to end up with a New Riders of the Purple Sage album which I absolutely hated, so became a little more choosey about which avenues I explored (this was of course before the time where you could pre-listen on the internet).

I had a similar dilemma when I bought my first 'dance' record, which was either Transglobal Underground or Eat Static, but needless to say I overcame this hurdle as well and now have more ambient, dance, electronic, house and techno music than I can shake a stick at. I did spend a period in the 1990s trying to complete my collection of all the CDs released on Pete Namlook's Fax label. I got within 4 but then lost interest as the quality of new releases had seemed to dip (good news is though that from the dialogue on the fax discussion list, the newer material now seems to be good again).

I liked nothing better than to spend hours ferreting around in the damp basements of London's second-hand record shops, looking for bargains. Sadly many of these shops have gone now but there are a few around still in Notting Hill Gate and Soho. It was ages before I moved from vinyl to CD. I still prefer the look and feel of a record, but storage quickly became an issue. As for downloading music, well I do it but still prefer to have something I treasure in my hand rather than as a file on my computer. My kids on the other hand simply don't get why I don't like it.

Having said that however, I do think one of the best inventions of all time is the iPod. I bought my first one, a 40Gb classic, in San Francisco back in 1984, which I filled up very quickly. I now have to remove songs every time I buy or download a new CD which is a pain. It's also now refusing to sync with my PC meaning I can't add new stuff at all. Hopefully I'll treat myself to an 80Gb one over the next few weeks so I can have all my music wherever I go ... only problem is I may need to get a new PC or bigger hard drive as well.

My current musical tastes include what's loosely referred to as "industrial" covering artists like Nurse With Wound and Current 93. I've also developed a liking for what's often called "drone" or "field recordings" by the likes of Paul Bradley, Colin Potter, Andrew Liles, Murmer, Darren Tate ... all of which the rest of my family really don't like at all. Going back in time a bit, I've rediscovered Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Robert Fripp, David Toop, Peter Hammill, Scott Walker, Nick Drake and Tim Buckley.

Naturally over the years I have built up a surplus of music that I no longer want, and of course with the invention of iTunes and the iPod, that I no longer need in physical format. A list of what I'm selling off can be found at records and CDs for sale.

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