Jul 292011

In a rare, reflective moment, the white suits over at RockTownHall Labs were recently gazing bleary-eyed at the various records and cds contained in the climate-controlled vault when, in an even more rare moment of sudden group awareness, and without the aid of the RTH topic generator, it occurred to several of us that we own records we haven’t listened to in years, records we can’t seem to get rid of.

Was this (anal) retention the result of some childhood trauma? A clinging to nostalgia for our 17–23 musical coming-of-age demographic frollic in the rock ‘n’ roll sun, after which our musical tastes ossified along with the bones in our lower spine (males only)? A passive form of denial, or at least an unwillingness to deal with the clutter, physical and emotional, of our present and past, respectively? Are we really ever going to play that third Psychedelic Furs record ever again? The CCR Best of record? Hasn’t culture blunted our need to spin those songs ever again in our own homes? And what of all those ’90s bands that had a great song and so we bought 3–4 albums and some 7-inches by them hoping in vain that they’d replicate the success? RTH Labs now invites our readers to stand up, state your name, and join the conversation in a show of healing and in a concerted effort to  move onward past the doldrums of self-inflicted record collection melancholy.


  19 Responses to “Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow”

  1. tonyola

    I haven’t owned any vinyl in 20 years and haven’t bought a CD for several years. My music collection has been 100% digital for the past few years including two complete and current backups on portable hard drives. When 128-256GB thumb drives get cheaper, I’ll pick up one or two for additional backup. While I still have a couple hundred CDs, they’re mostly dead weight now since they too have been digitized. There is simply no physical need to delete anything from the collection, and I do try to get around to listening to most of it.

    There are some albums which I don’t listen to anymore simply because I’ve already heard them so many times: Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt. Peppers, Court of the Crimson King, and so on. There are others which I’m not sure I like: Trout Mask Replica, some of Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, etc. But they all remain in my collection as “reference” material.

  2. misterioso

    Oh, you kids today with your digital music. And your Yoko Ono.

  3. misterioso

    Trolleyvox, I was right with you up to this point: “all those ’90s bands that had a great song and so we bought 3–4 albums and some 7-inches.” At that point I no longer knew what you were talking about, but it may be that I have a different ’90s in mind.

    I do have a lot of cds and lps, and Lord knows I don’t listen to some very much. But I am also cheap enough that I don’t buy stuff unless I’m pretty sure I like it, and I find it is fairly rare that I bothered to pay out money for something that later I have no use for; and those few are long gone.

  4. saturnismine

    I know what he’s talking about. He’s talking about that Retsin ep I can’t seem to get rid of because their show at Silk City ca. 1996 was so good that I just don’t have the heart to kill it. It’s become an artifact of an era rather than something I “use” for its original intended purpose. But isn’t this what constitutes most collections? I’ve actually published on the question of the origins of collections and images of them, and so I’m going to answer my own question: yes.

    About 90s bands, we could add the ones who blew us away live, but whose recordings paled in comparison.

  5. As a matter of fact, I’ve been listening to the first three PFurs albums over the last three or four days, and I remain firm in my belief that the third album is the best one. Too bad they fell apart halfway through the next one and continue to suck to this day.

  6. So funny that you chose a Psych Furs album cover! I only have that one on cassette – or did – but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out the first two albums over the last couple of years, meaning to crank them up. I have yet to do so, though. I’m not sure why. I still own the vinyl, of course.

  7. misterioso

    Yeah, I forgot about Retsin.

  8. cherguevara

    I rather like that Furs album. I’m down with the 1st four of them, but Forever Now is probably the one I play most.

    Anyway, one friend of mine used to weed out his music collection once a year. His stance was that if he hadn’t listened to it for a year, it was gone. I’m not sure I agree with that, but then I’m a pack rat. The same friend ditched all his vinyl for CD’s, all at once. I took in a lot of his vinyl. Then he ripped everything and ditched CD’s, and I have a few stacks of his discs now.

    I digitized all my CD’s too, but didn’t feel good about them being mp3’s and I wanted to keep the booklets. They’re all on a shelf in the basement. However, now I have moved on to FLAC and I am slowly re-ripping everything. This is a format I don’t feel so bad about, because it can be converted back to the original AIFF format with bit-for-bit accuracy.

    But not only do I have records and CD’s that I don’t play – I have some that I have NEVER played. Forget the music stuff, I have all kinds of dopey crap I should’ve thrown away 20 years ago.

  9. Agreed first four Furs albums are great — I like Mirror Moves the best for some reason. I held out great hope that Richard Butler would return to form — I even have the Love Spit Love CD, which hasn’t seen my player for a decade.

    I have hundreds and hundreds of CDs — many purchased used. But now, I have pretty much stopped buying CDs — the last one I bought was the new Garland Jeffreys album (its good!), which I picked up at his show here in No VA last month. I stream on MOG or download from Amazon now.

    As for my CDs, why I keep some of this stuff is becoming less clear to me. Just taking a look at the some of the “Gs” in the stacks (and stacks) I could probably get rid of all my General Public, Golden Smog, and Grant Lee Buffalo CDs and not be harmed in any way.

  10. bostonhistorian

    I’m doing the conversion to FLAC as well, but I’m keeping the CDs and booklets (minus the plastic cases) because they just don’t take up that much space.. I won’t get rid of vinyl, but I have given away some duplicates to younger folks just getting into records. In museum terms, I have about ten linear feet of vinyl, which, again, isn’t that difficult to store.

  11. If there was ever an ideal use for SPOTIFY then this is it. I already have 80+ gigs of music on my ipod and iphone that I have been listening to since December 2005 when I made the jump to mp3 as my car/work listening format of choice.

    What has gone by the wayside was all of the music that I had on cassette, vinyl and the Cds that did not make the transfer.

    I have been listening almost exclusively to music that I owned in the 1980’s but have not made it to the ipod

    (I started buying records in 1980 – Glass Houses, Queen’s the Game and Star Wars Christmas were my firsts)

    Madness, Rick Springfield (I’ve always liked his 1st 3 RCA records), The Outfield, The Cruzados, Men At Work, The Del Fuegos, London Choirboys, Guadalcanal Diary and other 80’s lost children that EPG suspects are my real favorites.

    (and YES I found Tommy Shaw’s Girls With Guns!)

    What was missing: I was a fan of the two Phantom, Rocker & Slick records. Both are out of print, not on Spotify and are currently sitting in a dark closet in my parents house with the rest of my vinyl.

    My Cds are kept in two large floor to ceiling book cases in the unfinished part of my basement. They have not really been used since moving to mp3s, but I go in to browse and look at covers, liner notes etc…basically just bathe in the glory of physical discs, rellics that they are.

  12. cherguevara

    Ugh, I’d never heard “Girls With Guns” before I started hanging on Turntable, now I’ve heard it a bunch of times. It really makes me want to jam a fork in my ears. Why would anyone listen to that voluntarily?

    Anyway…. here is my dopey Psychedelic Furs story: I went with a friend to see the Furs at the height of their fame, Pretty In Pink, at the Spectrum in its “Showcase” layout. Just before they came on, my friend says, “come on, we’ve got to go up front.” And I said, “What do you mean? We’re in the 15th row, center. We can see great. We have our own space here.”

    “No man, we have to get UP CLOSE!”
    “But we ARE up close!”
    But off he goes and not wanting to get ditched, I go too. I end up in the pit, getting shoved up against this metal fencing that is a few feet in front of the stage. It’s packed, I can barely move and my left arm is pinned against this fence. Feeling claustrophobic, I decide to wriggle my left arm up and try to rest it on top of the fence. No dice, fence is too tall, so my choice is now leave my arm pinned against the fence or hold it in the air. I chose the latter.

    I idiotically held my arm up in the air for almost the entire show. The Furs come out and Richard Butler grabs my hand and shakes it. Well, that’s kind of cool, all right. A few songs later, he does it again. And again. And again. I was wishing I could grab him and say, “dude, stop shaking my fucking hand. You don’t understand, I CAN’T PUT MY ARM DOWN!” Aw, here he comes again to shake my hand again, dammit.

    After the show, my friend was excited because he brought a squirt gun with him and managed to hit Richard Butler in the face. Who does that?!

  13. THAT, my friend, is one of the finest stories ever told in these hallowed halls. Thanks!

  14. 2000 Man

    That’s awesome! All of it. Pure awesome.

    I have some stuff I haven’t played in a long time, but I’m not getting rid of it any time soon. I need to rip some vinyl to mp3’s, but those are for portable use. I like records. I like the way they sound and I like to play them. CD’s are okay and I like the way they sound but I don’t play them as much as I used to, and I pretty much only buy vinyl these days. I do need to cull the collection. I’ve got some metal that I’m never gonna play, so what’s the point in keeping it? If someone wants to give me 100 bucks for Metallica’s Kill Em All, why would I keep it? Or that Buckingham/Nicks album I have that’s never been opened. I don’t think I’m gonna play it. But Stevie sure looks cute on the cover, but then if it’s worth real money, then why am I keeping it?

  15. I loved Boston Mass by Del Fuegos — have you heard Warren Zanes Memory Girls from 2002? One of the best CDs of the 2000s!

  16. Hilarious! I’ve always wanted to but never seen the Furs, but I see they’ll be at the new “Flimore” in Silver Spring, MD next month with the Tom Tom Club (!). Somehow, I don’t think it would be as fun as would have been in 1987.

  17. cherguevara

    Glad you enjoyed my pain… 🙂

  18. I was at that Furs’ show, Cher, but no great stories came of it.

    I keep everything; people give me their old vinyl because they know I won’t toss it so there are still things down there that I’ve never heard. On the other hand I enjoy playing forgotten things. I listened to Howard Jones’ Dream Into Action the other day. It front loads it’s good songs and drops way off after that.

  19. You should keep Buckingham Nicks — get one of those record frames and put it on a wall. Love the cover.

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