Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lambchop - Gone Tomorrow

On heavy rotation around these parts. Unsettling as ever and accompanied by an equally odd clip.

Stick around for the sublime instrumental coda.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

An Accident Waiting to Happen

When I was a young child, Dad always seemed to be decorating and whenever he decorated, out came the reel to reel tape player and he would hang wallpaper, hammer nails and slap on paint whilst singing along to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and even early Bob Dylan - all artists who I came to appreciate in later years. He'd been into music from an early age visiting clubs like Ronnie Scotts and the coffee bars of Soho in the 1950s to hear his first love - jazz. As the 1960s progressed he began to listen to more classical music, but still enjoyed pop - I have tapes from the time of him singing Freddie & the Dreamers and Gerry & the Pacemakers songs with me.

Dad the Decorator in 1959

His enjoyment of music continued throughout his life and the care with which he filed and notated his LPs, Cassettes and CDs as he got older often amused me - I could see where I'd got it from.

In his later years, in addition to failing hearing, Dad struggled terribly with his legs, could barely walk and was in constant discomfort. His bolthole was the back room, where with headphone chord stretched across the room he would listen to an album or two every evening. Unfortunately, such was the volume he needed because of his deafness,the headphones were largely pointless and the music was audible all over the house!

During a period of domestic upheavel in the early 2000s, I had to stash my own, by now very large, record collection back at my parents house. Rather than leave boxes piled up, I simply reconstructed the free-standing metal shelving units I'd bought with me around the walls in my old bedroom and filed the records away. Mum took the opportunity to hang makeshift indoor washing lines from shelf to shelf across the room. One day Dad was hanging clothes on the line, but, because of his unsteadiness, lost his balance, snagging a line as he fell, bringing three shelves full of records crashing down, trapping him. He wasn't hurt, but he couldn't free his legs and Mum couldn't get to him for the piles of records and twisted metal covering the lower half of his body - so she called the fire brigade to release him. It was a unique call-out for them and it somehow made the local paper!

Thankfully we all laughed about it later and I insisted that as he had clearly instilled a love of music into me at a young age, Dad had literally brought the accident on himself!

He would have been 82 today. Here's one for you Dad and, to borrow a phrase, thank you for the music.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Big Decision

It was over breakfast when I actually spoke the words I'd had rolling around in my head for some time. My partner's spoon hit the table - closely followed by her jaw.

'I think I might get rid of all my Records and CDs'

Come to think of it, hearing myself saying it out loud probabley caused my own jaw to head southwards a few inches.

I've been buying music in all it's increasingly varied formats since 1971 and as recently as 2009 my haul of CDs for that year alone teetered around the 300 mark. I'm a collector, a completest....ok a hoarder. So what's happened?

The idea was that the middle room upstairs in our new home would house our records, CDs, books and magazines, we'd even taken to referring to it as the library. Problems became apparent after I'd moved approximately a third of the above mentioned into the space. Sitting downstairs eating dinner later that evening I glanced upward to see ominous cracks in the ceiling where no cracks had previously been. I guess that was the moment that started me thinking about other options, the most promising of which was removing the CDs & packaging from the plastic casing, thus reducing the overall weight.

Very slowly though, I began to ponder the possibility of continuing to enjoy music without owning the physical product. At any other period of my life I would have laughed you out of the room, thrown you out of the house and released the hounds to see you out of town at the mere mention of the suggestion.

Due to prolonged legal machinations, our move last year suffered many delays and reschedules. We were all packed up and ready to go in April and didn't actually get the keys until October, since when we've been in full redecoration mode and are, to a large extent, still living out of boxes. One of the many consequences of this is that I haven't had access to any of my physical music for nearly 11 months....and I'm surprised to find that I'm coping OK.

Let me emphasise that this is not a quiet house. Between us we have four MP3 players, two laptops, a PC and two external hard-drives all of which are crammed with tuneage and being added to all the time. We play music constantly, to the extent that we haven't owned a TV since 2005.

But could I actually go through with the act of discarding a lifetime's obsession? Can I continue to put up with the inferior sound quality inherent in compressed files on a hard drive?

I've got to make a big decision.

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