Music has to be ordered by necessity. It might be all very quirky and eccentric having lots of music in no particular order but it becomes nightmarish whenever you’re looking for something specific. Trust me, I’ve tried. Some dicks order their collections by genre or theme first but that’s just stupid because music is music is music. You can keep certain acts separate if they are particularly space consuming but generally a music collection should just follow the rule of the alphabet – by surname of solo artist name or first word of band name, not including the prefix ‘the’. This system is rather pleasingly not complicated by clever-bollocks acts such as ‘The The’, which is nice. When it comes to soundtracks I tend to just use the name of the film rather than the composer, though once you have quite a few examples from a given composer – eg – Max Richter then that rule is better flipped so that they’re all there at once in case you decide you’re going to have a Max Richter-fest. Incidentally, when it comes to soundtracks no home should be without a decent Ennio Morricone compilation and the score from ‘Jaws’ by John Williams.
So music should be ordered for convenience, but there should never be an order in which to listen to it, because that isn’t how the brain works. If I went through my CD collection from the beginning and in order I would stumble straight from ABBA to AC/DC and that just wouldn’t do; apart from the late 70’s they have not a lot in common. Still both good, but I’d take AC/DC any day, and particularly the Bon Scott years when they must have been the most trim, ruthless rock and roll outfit in the world. But I mustn’t forget that this is a journey initiated by vinyl and so I have a flight case open that takes me from S to Z. A few things you might try:
The Who – while they will never be the greatest rock and roll band in the world The Who were a fine beast of a bunch. Their catalogue is surprisingly slight, given their reputation and longevity and underpinning it is the triple crown of ‘Live At Leeds’, ‘Who’s Next’ and ‘Quadrophenia’. All are highly recommended, though I only have the second and third on plastic. ‘Quadrophenia’ is a wonderful album to have in big format as you get a booklet of photos to flip through, a bit of spiel that one assumes was written by Pete Townshend and granite grey (much as the artwork) and granite hard songs like ‘Doctor Jimmy’ with the priceless lyric “Her fellah’s gonna kill me, oh fucking will he”, tauntingly bellowed by Roger Daltrey at his prize fighter best.
The Stooges. In this case their second and penultimate proper album – ‘Fun House’. By the time they got to this The Stooges were not much more that a filthy grab bag of degenerates but that didn’t mean they were daft or inarticulate. Iggy Pop may have been the front end but he was backed up by some seriously heavy shit. Listen to ‘Down On The Street’ at substantial volume and tell me that it doesn’t sound fucking brilliant. For their pretty brief existence they were one of the hottest units in the land and set a match to the early 70’s, and even when they took their foot off the pedal they could still throw out songs like ‘Dirt’, which makes you feel like you haven’t washed in weeks but also that you don’t care.
Ben Watt. Watt is the bloke from Everything But The Girl, in case you need some point of reference. I suppose technically he’s the ‘Everything But’ bit since the other half, Tracey Thorn is his actual other half. Simple. ‘Fever Dream’ is a great album of finely crafted tunes and is enhanced by the playing power of Bernard Butler, former Suede guitarist and presumably close chum. Although I only have this one on vinyl the albums on either side of it are both just as good. The song ‘Forget’ from ‘Hendra’ is particularly fabulous. We were on our way to see him in London two weeks ago when we were alerted that the show was cancelled because of …… well what do you think?
The Zombies. St Albans finest made music of extraordinary beauty so don’t be put off by their name. ‘Odessey And Oracle’ was their swansong and I have this on orange vinyl, which was a Sainsbury’s exclusive (somehow dampens the thrill). If you want to know how good they were, orange or not, then look up ‘A Rose For Emily’ and ‘This will Be Our Year’ and if one doesn’t convince you then the other should. This is why music matters.
Van Morrison. There is a reason they call him Van The Man. You have to give him time and space but it will happen sooner or later. When you listen to ‘Sweet Thing’ or indeed anything on ‘Astral Weeks’ and consider he was only 23 at the time you would have to concede that here is a very special musician indeed. He is generally acknowledged as a bit if a grumpy old fucker but I could forgive him pretty much anything just for the live thrill of ‘It’s Too Late To Stop Now’ or the pastoral beauty of ‘Veedon Fleece’. Sadly his back catalogue has not been treated with anywhere near the respect it deserves so if you can find a new copy of ‘Veedon Fleece’ on any format you’re a wizard.
Talk Talk. ‘The Colour Of Spring’, ‘Spirit Of Eden’ and ‘Laughing Stock’. As fine a run of three albums in all music and lovely on vinyl for the artwork alone. Magical and essential.
Stevie Wonder. ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ often gets a lot of the plaudits but I don’t rate it that much, which is why I have shunned it on vinyl. There’s too much sugar and not quite enough soul. ‘Innervisions’ on the other hand is pure class and is an album to be listened to all the way through, as it somehow serves better as a whole. The last tracks on Side One (‘Golden Lady) and Side Two (He’s Misstra Know-It-All) are a tribute to great sequencing and also two of the very highest highlights in Wonder’s glittering back catalogue.
Jonathan Wilson. As I write this post I am listening to an album called ‘Fanfare’ by this chap. I’ve had it for, I guess, a couple of years and this is the first time I’ve listened to it, which is a shame. It’s a splendid thing on vinyl; gatefold and heavy and plenty to look at while you listen. And it’s good music too, it’s as if he’s absorbed every morsel of 70’s soft rock and good singer songwriter and then ground them together with a bit of cosmic dust and released them back out in his own manner. I shall explore further, such is the way that music leads you from path to path in every direction and if you travel wisely you will never find yourself at a dead end.
That’s it for now. Sure beats worrying and moaning about you know what. Maybe you can pick up something here to lighten the load.
G B Hewitt. 28.03.2020