Monday, 25 April 2011

Lost In Music

I dunno, sometimes I just feel like a musical version of Burgess Meredith from that Twilight Zone episode. But without the apocalyptic ending.

I was quite late in discovering the world of mp3's what with being an old bugger an' all. Vinyl was still my medium of choice up to about 4 years ago with the occasional cd coming into action now and again.

Thinking back, I might be able to pinpoint the late The Essential Elements blog as being my introduction into the thieving, despicable world of free music.

Now I'm not saying that I agree with this. But then, as someone on a budget to be able to try out new (to these ears, at least) music or grab stuff that I always wanted, it is a god-send.

And add in the fact that not a day goes by that I find something that I wasn't actively looking for but just knew that I needed it.
For instance in the last few days I've downloaded The Tomorrow People soundtrack, Ministry Of Sound 80's Groove, Beastie Boys 'To The 5 Boroughs' and 'Hot Sauce Committee Part 2', a BBC Radio 2 piece on Bill Mitchell, The Jungle Brothers instrumentals album, Websta's Living In The Attic LP, various Jerky Boys bootlegs, A Stephen Fry series from Radio 2 and some albums of Ceefax and Testcard music.

The problem here is this. I get that same feeling when I see something like any of the above listed albums as I did when I was in my 20's in Berwick Street in the early 1990's, stood in Groove Records, Reckless or Music & Tape Exchange.
Thinking about it as I lie on my virtual shrink's couch, maybe this is all just a continuation of days spent being in actual shops looking through dusty racks of records. The fact that proper record shops don't exist any longer is the way that I can justify my downloading sprees. Just a lot cheaper is all.

But back to my original point. My collection is growing daily yet I don't seem to have the time to listen to them. But I KEEP. ON. DOING IT.
It's a habit, I know. Is it becoming an obsession? Who knows?

I was speaking to Waxer the other day and we both had a similar wish that we could go back to our teenage days, 14-years old, lying on the bed, copy of Street Scene, Mike Allen playing in the background on a Dixons C-90 cassette. Obviously it's the summer, which for some reason that I can't quite fathom that the whole of 1985 was spent in gorgeous sunshine according to my memory.

Life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn't it (cue Wu Tang's "Can It Be All So Simple")?



Ah, the old digi-diggin' issue. The basic GREED of ripping all these files shouldnt be a problem if that covetous nature has groundings, if you do enjoy at least like some of the music, there shouldnt be a problem. Same as the vinyl man, do you listen, and do you enjoy. If all these files sit on desktops and people arent actually listening to them then thats nonsense. Im a prime example, when the urge [and opportunity] arises, I cant help but take take take. I'll take a wee notion for one thing, before you know it, im on a 'mission from god' to find some instrumental Ive never heard before, or some unreleased nugget or a sample source or whatever. If an artist piques my interest, regardless of the genre, I wanna know, thats the good bit, that the part thats akin to hearing a new artist on the radio, or walkin into a record store, hearing somethin and then having the option to flick through the entire back-cat of an artist youd never heard up until then.

I did it with the PE rips over at OLAS, had a shedload of them already, but still went through all my files to ensure that if I had VLSs, I would then upgrade depending on sound quality and tracklists. The CDS or the 320 of somethin then lives on the External Hard-Drive for future ref. Thats the joy, a little work and months/ years down the line, when I want to use some or simply hear some toe-tappin head-noddin Shocklee noise, I can. Now I have pretty much every PE thing up until and including Greatest Misses. Having the 320 of those Shocklee productions is great, but I know im only using a small percentage for true enjoyment, ideally I'd have the time to make a mix or a comp for myself with every good instrumental, but hey, those chances are slimmer than Kate Middleton. If files are used for broadcasts and have a life of just a few seconds then so what, thats great, theyve still served a purpose.


More importantly, periodically I make time to filter out the gear that just doesnt have a purpose, or if it turns out that; actually, thats crap, or its of its time and doesnt stand up the way I remembered/ hoped. I'll go through the laptop [that I use daily], and every couple of months, i'll filter out the files in an attempt to cleanse the digital palate as it where. Ive done it with the vinyl and CDs all my life, so the same mentality is in full effect with the digital digging. I do have completist reasons, but thats less about curiousity and more of an aesthetic thing, I just like having a huge Mastercuts CD selection or the Street Jams/ Electro Funk series with a shedload of the same spine, I like having a series of releases, probably cos I worked in record shops for years, thats gotta have an affect. Some go banoodles for EVERY catalogued release from a certain label, producer, or artist. This is when there are 'issues', it aint no biggy, its just funny, its the same as it was with vinyl. I think you have to set aside time to listen/ enjoy/ filter stuff in order to keep an orderly selection. You must be brutally scrupulous with yourself apropo what you actually enoy...Its gotta be either; good, good enough for me to HONESTLY enjoy listening to it at some stage after that initial listen or rip; has a use, or it simply makes me laugh and might make me laugh again [Comedy alblums and stand-up are as much of a mainstay in my collection as anything]. The nostalgic element is a major chink in the chain of events though, I listen back to stuff and have no interest in it whatsoever, and im not gonna kid myself that the music/ film/ tv show is good if it aint, I've never done it with any other format or media, digital or otherwise. The other thing is the payback, do you buy stuff ? Again, im the pits, I dont put my hand in ANYWHERE near enough to justify the balance of thievery [that guilt led me to post on OLAS]. If I was a successful artist, Id have major issues with people like myself for raping the very core of what creativity is all about.

The main issue is actually finding time to ENJOY music in the correct environment. Im out on the bike alot and I run, so the headphones are in heavy rotation. I'll only play certain types of music in certain rooms in my house too, same for the weather and environments I find myself in. I'll never listen to Dead Kennedys at home, but Jello sure gets me motivated runnin round the park


Ruse One said...

If i remember 1985 correct... was really good weather, i'd just discovered Mike Allen (TDK tapes, not Dixons) and was into BMXing at the Gillingham Black Lion Skate Park.
I remember hearing every new song as if it was something special, and as there wasn't a lot on the radio, every new song had time to be digested properly. I still know the lyrics to most 80s songs, but have no idea about new songs....
Nowadays, there is far too much exposure to new music, too many tv channel, broadband and free downloads that mean new music is not as appreciated as it was... buying a LP from Groove or Hitman, then having the anticipation as you got on the train home before you could play it, the wait between every Mike Allen show, that doesn't happen now.
There was also the joy of finding an unknown 12 or lp in the local record shop, now there are pre-releases on line, youtube etc that spoil the wait.
Same with films, most of the 80s films I saw I had no idea about plot or story etc before seeing them. Now there are trailers, scripts, previews, leaked versions everywhere.

Face it, the digital revolution, while giving us access to old music we may have missed, has ruined it for the future.


I think alot of us experienced that anticipation on those journeys home. I enjoyed every nerve-end twisting moment of it. I remember peeling price stickers off LPs on the bus home from 'town' on a Saturday [after boosting dozens of markers down the inside my Dads golf umbrella, it was nearly as big as me, how I got away with that level of pilfering on a weekly basis I'll never know]...

The same went for expectant deliveries from the postman, alot of my favourite alblums were unavailable in Belfast so had to order from Bluebird on Edgware Road; Lyte As A Rock, 1st Steady B, 1st Skinny Boys et cet. I used to get such a thrill from that self-imposed aural foreplay, the postman had a slavering teen to deal with as he knocked on the door, not just some gnarly dog.

Last time I truly felt that buzz was October 2010 when Stretch & Bobbito had their Anniversary up at WKCR. The weeks of waiting were finally over, I'd set my alarm for 5am UK time, plunged a heavyweight fresh roast and had goose-bumps listening to the show for the following 5 hours.

As consumers and listeners, we were pioneers too, we had to dig deep for our fix of Hip-Hop, enjoyin it, then imitating it and replicating it in our own way, whether it was bombin, dancin, beatboxin or rap-singin, and its so rewarding that so many of us stuck with it, cos it truly paid off when you can still enjoy it as adults [in 320 of course]. I was gettin goose-bumps off what Steve Stein was doin in 1985, and I still am.

When I look around me at the lack of substance in alot of youth culture and youth movements today I consider us so blessed, the digi-revolution is what it is, and lets face it, we aint the kids no more...

Jim said...

i was late to the whole mp3 thing ,i only got broadband in 2009!,so i was a strickly vinyl,tape and cd digger and i agree that you can get that same buzz from finding those albums and tracks you have been searching for on the internet it's just alot easier and cheaper now!.
I think that it's part of the hip hop mentality to have a big music collection (check agent finch!!)who doesn't 'just one more' 12" or lp and ripping music off the internet isn't a million miles away from those 3rd hand tape dubs of the latest albums that you would share with mates at school!,as for 1985 i think it was everyday down the beach for the summer holidays and i probably wasn't even bothered about any type of music at 7 years old ,just busy picking stones out of my knees after falling off my roller skates,skateboard or bmx!!

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