Tuesday, 10 June 2014

All the records I've ever owned



Thanks to a post over at the excellent Bagging Area, I was recently reminded of a couple of records I owned in 1981: in this instance it was the New Age Steppers' first album and the Slits' second. Sometimes I miss them... and those they rubbed up against... I look back on them fondly like old friends. But if I still had every record I've ever owned I would have to give them a room of their own for there's no space to spare here; there have been so many.  It got me thinking... remembering.  A quick flick through my brain's RAM reveals a mixed selection: long-since-gone albums by Buzzcocks, Punishment of Luxury, Wire, Generation X, Afghan Whigs, Au Pairs, Bauhaus, Mighty Baby, the Lyres, Rain Parade, PiL, Steel Pulse.... not to mention dozens of compilations (or 'combinations' as someone I once knew described them).  And I can still picture the labels on my singles and EPs by the Ruts, Comsat Angels, Neon Hearts, Crispy Ambulance, Television, Voice of the Beehive, New Model Army, New Order, Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction... I'll stop there. I'm probably omitting vast swathes of my varying musical taste with a selective memory that has conveniently glossed over certain purchases, best forgotten anyway.  Maybe you think that about Zodiac Mindwarp?! - no, I loved my Wild Child 12” at the time, perhaps helped by the fact that I rather fancied the leather-clad Mark Manning too.

What happened to them all?  In the '80s many would have ended up at the Record & Tape Exchange, usually the branch in Notting Hill Gate, where they may have been openly sneered at or secretly salivated over by the usually rather snotty staff before being, well, exchanged of course.  Mr SDS and I used to make the trip down to London with one big bag of records... and come back with another big bag of different records. Others found new homes via charity shops.  Loyalty to my vinyl, CD and tape purchases has always been fairly transient. Loved truly, madly and deeply for a while, but ultimately replaced by younger, or just as likely older, models: an ever-changing music library. Today's joint collection includes a few hardy perennials (Aladdin Sane, Clash first etc) but a good many which (don't tell them) possibly won't be here this time next year. We've even bought albums, sold them, bought them again, sold them again... Every so often we pull one out and say, “Are we ever actually going to want to listen to this these days?” and then their fate is sealed. We make the trip down to the charity shop with another big bag of CDs.

Don't mention downloads... we're not there yet.... still sticking with things we can touch. Even if we don't always stick with them for very long.

23 comments:

  1. Of the three Gen(eration) X long players you should really try and blag yourself another copy of their first one. It is still a tour de force.

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    1. I guess it probably is! That first album was the one I had at the time. Day By Day, Youth Youth Youth.... well.... no doubt about it that they're great songs. Maybe it's one for me to revisit, just to play while I work... mmmm!

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  2. Of course, when you DO get round to downloads you will find that your own personal computer will make those decisions for you.... in much the same way as my car cassette deck used to back in the day.... NO, don't care how much you are enjoying your Lou Reed album, I'm going to chew that up! These days your hard drive will suddenly get a glitch and everything is gone... you will go back to the iTunes store and get the saccharine soaked response that they no longer stock those tracks so tough titty that you already paid for them on the understanding you could download again if they ever got wiped

    So you go to your back-up hard drive and find that the latest version of iTunes has declared that half of your music collection is "illegal" (ie it doesn't recognise the source of some downloads or tracks as the current track list on the iTunes store) so won't let you play them. The 'latest' version of your music playing software will also helpfully decide that tracks you put there from your own legally bought & paid for CD's are illegal too and won't let you play them either. You are forced to listen to that one Lady Gaga track you downloaded over and over and plead Apple-induced insanity.

    I need to get a new stylus and then I am going back to vinyl for good!

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    1. Oh blimey, Yve, you are obviously speaking from personal experience and it's enough to put me off! The thing is we like giving the music we want to hear a special place on the shelf, it's like it's passed a certain 'test', I mean it's good enough for us to want for real. The idea of downloading it instead just doesn't give it the same ranking in my head, even though I know it would be cheaper and take up less space, I'm just not going to think of it the same way. Now I've read your brilliant summarising of its pitfalls too, that confirms it!
      I'm happy with CDs... but still miss those 12" sleeves....well, we're arty aren't we?!
      Enjoy your new stylus!

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  3. This touched my heart and reminded me of all the vinyl albums I have parted with. My kids are on my case now for letting so much go but there is just no room. In fact, I continue to let them go and cannot even bring myself to flog them as I'm only too aware of how dealers rip you off so they always get given to a local charity shop so they can do some good. I now have the same problem with the CD's I bought to replace them. Somehow, as much as I'm big fan of CD's, they seem even more redundant than vinyl albums, which, at least, had the glory of the album sleeve. I hate downloads and think I'll probably just collecting music one day soon. Great post.

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    1. Just *stop* collecting is what I meant to say. My subconscious clearly couldn't face it.

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    2. I bet there have been many interesting ones pass through your hands. We just can't hold onto everything though, can we, and really I think it's 'healthier' (at least it is for me!) that we don't. Sometimes you can just appreciate the fact that you appreciated them at the time.
      I hope you won't actually stop! Not completely! How about just swap?!

      As for selling records - apologies if I've mentioned it before but we bought our first flat on the strength of a record deal! A generous offer (from a US collector) paid for our deposit...!

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    3. Can't argue with that! Nice one.

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  4. Selling records in a tight was a fairly regular event years ago...because we were regularly in a tight.

    I was delighted to discover, during the latest move that I never did sell the Kicker Conspiracy gatefold double 7"...my most prized binyl possession.

    When I think about some of the stuff I did sell...Hex on kamera, Perfect Sound Forever 10" by Pavement (which shockingly didn't sell for nearly as much as the first Malus solo record...what?), first couple of US Maple releases, a copy of Alien Soundtracks by chrome. Daydream Nation and Marquee Moon first pressings.

    I still have most of my 10"s though...I love those...a couple Jack of Fire, yeah yeah yeahs, Nina Hagen -White Punks on Dope, and a whole slew of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 7"s.

    I've shared this theory before vinyl records and hardback books are making a comeback. They are objects that are worth owning and there will always be people who want objects.

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    1. Same here, Erik - whilst most of our stuff isn't worth a toss these days it has been in the past and, if we needed a bit extra and someone actually wants to pay a silly amount, you do what you have to do!

      Some great sounding stuff you had/have there too - imagine if we all lined up all the records we'd ever owned, we could probably just spend the next twelve years perusing their sleeves with rapturous faces. "Ooh!" "Ahh!"

      I never thought vinyl would make a comeback but I'm aware it's still has a market. I wouldn't mind.



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  5. Nice post (and comments) and thanks for the mention. Whenever I've sold records (not very often) I've regretted it almost as soon as I've completed the transaction. I have recently started selling some cds on ebay- ones that I look at and thin 'I'm never going to listen to this again'... but as a format they have very little cash value (unless they're out of print/rare/special editions etc in which case, I keep them). Space is a problem for records and books. But its a nice problem.

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    1. Thanks, Swiss Adam and pleasure. Your Slits fest triggered memories! (I'm also aware that I keep looking at blogs where there's a post about something I once owned and my comments all start to look the same, "Oh you've reminded me of when I bought that back in (insert date here)"... )

      'A nice problem' - I like that!

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  6. Oh help I would hate to think....my first collection of LPs were mostly stolen in '72 lots were in dogy condition.....my next collection of LP and singles went in to storage in '83 and are still there....I had 10 years of nothing but tapes and most i gave to a charity in early 2000s....my larghe collection of CD's are now also in storage....I have resorted to MP3/4 now adays....wish I had a £1 for everything I bought over that time.....some great memories along the way of course.

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    1. Wow, Old Pa, I'm imagining a hangar-full! If you had £1 for everything you bought over that time... what a thought...

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  7. Oh you're so brave !! I just find it incredibly difficult to get rid of my vinyl, even that 7" I bought from the band who were doing a support slot at the 100 Club way back....anyone need a copy of 'I'm a Teapot' by The Geisha girls....? I'm sure some of the stuff might be worth a few bob but it's me who would be poorer - I've never kept a diary but every slab of vinyl works as a couple of pages from the time I bought it. I'm sure Proust would understand....

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    1. Yeah...but Proust was born in a pile of money...and never had to pay rent.

      :)

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    2. It might seem brave, Bel Mondo, but I secretly envy you. It's a lovely idea for "...la recherche du temps perdu" - a vinyl diary!

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  8. This is almost too painful to discuss. So many records and CDs have gone from my life over the years and yet so many remain, though boxed up around the house, inaccessible. I'm trying to thin out the collection, reluctantly. Everytime we go out in the car I grab a handful of CD's for the road. The best ones go back in the box and the others just go.... This is a ridiculously emotive subject for me. I enjoy streaming and appreciate downloading, but holding a record or CD, something tangible, in my hand....it's as Bel Mondo suggested, each one is a diary entry.

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    1. I'm sorry this is a painful one for you.... Perhaps we should set up a vinyl (or equivalent) withdrawal counselling service!

      Yes, I would love to hold those old records in my hands again - and I love the thought of all the memories they can evoke, the diary idea is lovely - but I'm fine without them. The way I see it is the same could apply to so many things I've had - beloved items of clothing, books, pictures, even birthday cards, and then where would I be? I'd have no room nor time nor headspace to enjoy both them and their ongoing additions. At least being able to access music online on those whims to hear stuff again (even if not keeping it) provides a kind of musical methadone!

      I wish you luck with thinning out the collection, knowing it will be hard. It is better to have loved and lost etc....

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  9. I still have the first single and LP I ever bought, how sad is that? I am though notoriously bad at letting go of things. Like Yve I don't trust the insubstantial, having experienced my whole carefully downloaded collection disappear into oblivion ( and yes I know I should have backed it up in the cloud!)

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    1. The downloading is a definite no-no, then! Sorry to hear about yours. (I'd never remember to keep backing up.).
      Balance is the key I think (as ever!) though I know everyone's level of balance is different. Keeping a few specials as markers of my life and individuality - but being able to let go of others and keep moving forward, works for me. Because I can occasionally just listen to a record I once had via youtube or blogs etc now, that helps! I don't think about them much the rest of the time, unless prompted. However, living in a very tiny old house does have something to do with the decision-making!

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  10. Reading through all the comments I have decided that downloads are OK for checking stuff out and those throw-away tracks that you love to death fro a few weeks and then get bored of (you know, most of the stuff you hear on the radio these days! tee hee) but if it earns a place on your heart via your ears... got to buy a real-world copy ;o)

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    1. Yes, that makes perfect sense! Having not even started on downloading I think I'll stick to the real things too, and just checking stuff out online. Spent half an hour yesterday looking up some old punk singles I'd had on youtube, and it was great fun in a nostalgic way to hear them again and see pics of their sleeves as it always is. But I concluded that that was good enough!

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