Friday, 1 February 2019

Melody Faker:
The albums I only own to make
myself look good

I like music. Who doesn't? Apart from my wife, she likes Take That. Anyway because I am a real and proper music fan who enjoys looking down his nose at people, I own all my music on clunky and cumbersome physical media like vinyl and so-called "compact" discs. This means I have no room in my lounge for seats or people, and moving house last year was a colossal ballache, and I am contributing to the mass production of plastic which will one day cover the earth's surface killing off all life as we know it, but I am definitely still superior to you streaming types somehow.

One of the bonuses of owning physical media is that you can subtly leave stuff lying around that speaks volumes about what kind of person you are or, more accurately, what kind of person you would like people to think you are. An original pressing of Kind Of Blue casually propped up next to the turntable, for example, or a worn-out copy of Blonde On Blonde protruding slightly from the IKEA Kallax shelving, is the perfect catalyst for a conversation in which you can casually toss off an "Oh, that old thing? Haha, I'd forgotten I even owned it! Aren't I a silly old deadly serious muso who cares too much about what people think!"

Of course the secondary benefit of owning albums like Kind Of Blue and Blonde On Blonde is that they contain genuinely great music. However over the years, I have managed to build up a small but robust collection of CDs and LPs that I've played once or twice, frowned at in confusion, and then - rather than doing the sensible thing and giving them to the Cancer Research shop round the corner - deliberately left them on display to make myself look good. What a prick. What follows is a small sample of these items with which I would like to confess my awfulness.

Grace by Jeff Buckley
Many moons ago I became obsessed with Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time list, and one of the entries I hadn't heard was Jeff Buckley's only studio album, Grace. Well, I thought, here's a bloke with a guitar who's well-loved by the music press but largely ignored by the mainstream, I like those. So I bought the CD, probably at some point in the mid-2000s, and played it a couple of times. Eh. Bit whiny. So on the shelf it went, and there it has remained, because owning it makes me look like a sensitive type to anyone familiar with the album, and to anyone unfamiliar with it I just look like I have a more extensive knowledge of music. Also it says out loud "I was familiar with Hallelujah before that X Factor woman sang it, *SNORT*". Obviously I should have bought Leonard Cohen's Various Positions to make this argument truly fly, but oh my god have you heard him? Cheer up mate!!!!

Intro by Pulp
When Pulp became massive after the release of Different Class in 1995, it was the done thing to point out that actually you'd been a fan since His 'n' Hers a whole year earlier, like you'd given birth to them or something. Obviously this amateur snobbery ignored their three previous albums, but literally nobody owned those unless their surname was Cocker. So I took the next best measure and bought Intro, an obscure compilation of songs that was released a whole other year earlier, BEAT THAT. Unfortunately it isn't very good but I can't have people thinking I was a late Pulp adopter because that would be the truth, and that's the last thing I want people to know.

The Classical Collection
In a supremely dick move I bought this 8-CD set of classical music from Woolies when I was a teenager because I liked the stuff I'd heard in films or on aftershave ads. I have never listened to any of it, yet there it is, a fucking massive box set leaning into the room, pushing its glasses up its nose and saying on my behalf: "Actually it's the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth, not 'the Die Hard theme', you TOTAL MORON". I am lots of fun at parties.

Pretty much every jazz album I own except Kind Of Blue
I started "getting into" jazz about five years ago, and under the advice of a trusted friend my first purchase was Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue. I do not own this album just to make myself look good because it is legit terrific, a complex bastard of wonder that's perfect listening at any time of any day or night. However, over the next few years I probably bought another ten or fifteen jazz albums because I thought they'd be as good as Kind Of Blue, and right now I would struggle to hum a single tune from any of them. If you put one of them on I would not be able to tell you whether it was Oscar Peterson or Cannonball Adderley or Horace Silver, and I'm fairly sure that's a jazz sin. But hello, I've got over a dozen jazz albums ON VINYL so I think you'll find that not only are my tastes pret-ty eclectic, but I am also an exceptional lover.

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear Of A Black Planet by Public Enemy
My interest in hip hop also arrived pretty late in the day (discounting Stutter Rap by Morris Minor & The Majors, which I bought on release in 1988), but when it did I quickly amassed a crushingly obvious collection of albums that could have been issued under a collection entitled "So You've Decided To Get Into Hip Hop". Painfully aware that this made me look like the whitest and lamest music fan in history, I decided to dip my toes further into the rap pool and bought the only two Public Enemy albums I'd heard of. Sorry guys but they're unlistenable. Still, I look 0.4% less lame for owning them so they stay on the shelf.

Every album by The Beatles
My father in law bought every Beatles LP as soon as they were released, and as a dowry for taking his daughter off his hands he gave them all to me, THIS IS A JOKE I LOVE MY WIFE AND AM LUCKY SHE AGREED TO MARRY ME. These touchstones of pop culture, these invaluable blasts of music history captured forever on beautiful jet-black vinyl, sit proudly in my collection where everyone can see them and envy my ownership of such rare and precious artefacts. What's that? Do I actually play them? Oh God no, I barely even like The Beatles. Except for Abbey Road, that one is so completely brilliant I have listened to it at least four times.

David Bowie's difficult period
I genuinely adore Zavid, and have really, really tried with the seven albums he made in the nineties and noughties, but there's no avoiding the fact that these are the ramblings of a man who'd lost his way. Thank God he subsequently squirted out a couple of actually brilliant records before he sensibly left us to rot in our own imbecilic filth, thereby leaving his legacy a little less tarnished. Don't think I'll be selflessly helping to fund a cure for the cancer that killed him by taking those CDs to the charity shop though, don't you realise the cachet that comes with owning every Bowie album? I've got a reputation to uphold you know.

Led Zeppelin II & Led Zeppelin IV
Another couple of albums I bought because I felt like I should, Led Zep's imaginatively-titled II and IV are the only survivors of a brutal cull that saw I and III consigned to the nearest chazza after a couple of plays. There's every chance I might actually enjoy them if I ever get round to putting them on again, but when is it ever appropriate to listen to a Led Zeppelin album? I'll tell you: the 1970s. And at a push, the 1990s, when the world's worst people briefly resurrected the 1970s because even they couldn't stand the 1990s. I like to think that owning them makes me look good but am vaguely aware that in fact it makes me look either 60 years old, or like someone who subscribed to Loaded and never missed an episode of TFI Friday.

Zuma by Neil Young
I can't actually even look at this album, let alone play it, because the cover is so phenomenally crap. So I have to trust in the readers of Rolling Stone who declared it the 7th best Neil Young album, because I'm definitely never going to play it. Still, look at me, I own a Neil Young album other than Harvest, bow down before my wild and unpredictable tastes, mortals!

Some crusty old 78s
The pièce de résistance of my collection of albums I only own to look good is a ragtag bunch of 78s pressed on shellac, which is so laughably fragile that every time I move them the collection gets smaller. I took these from my Grandad's house after he died, along with a gramophone to play them on (because that would make me look unbelievably hip), but sadly the gramophone was about as functional as my Grandad so I gave it to a friend to be repaired. That repair is still ongoing two years down the line, so while the records themselves tell the world that I really am an audiophile of the most superior order, I couldn't even play the fuckers if I wanted to.

1 comment :

  1. Zeppelin II is celebrating it's fiftieth anniversary this coming October.

    You should blast it out for a whole month.