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The first rule of Record Club is……

January 18, 2011

Broken Drum Records

Have a read of this BBC News item: Are record clubs the new book clubs?

What do you think? I can see both sides of this old world v new world debate.

The new world is great; I can weed out crappy music, order tunes from an album any way I like and mix tunes from various albums. I love that music is now properly portable and that it’s easy to share good tunes with other people. I can make my own DJ mixes. I can choose the sound quality I want.

The old world held some particular pleasures; it was normal to listen to an entire album all the way through and properly appreciate those albums that were written as a concept or were carefully sequenced to be heard in a particular order. A few weeks ago, a friend played our own 2008 CD, Babylon Halt, in full on an online radio station. It was the first time I’d listened right through probably since we released it. If I say so myself, it was amazing and the tracks were in just the right order. I remembered how many times we’d listened through to get it right. I realised how long it had been since had I listened to an album right through while paying attention rather than while walking around. I think maybe we’ve missed a trick along the way.

Babylon Halt

I’m sure there are still many musicians out there who write tunes to be listened to in a particular order – and I don’t necessarily mean old gits like me from before the digital age. Some younger people still have a vision for their music of creating something that goes beyond the disposable four minute stand-alone tune (not that there’s anything wrong with those!). I wonder if the ease of acquisition and use, the sheer disposability of modern digital cultural artifacts, has undermined their perceived value to the point where we don’t respect the music, art or games that we fill our lives with.

Maybe we should make some time to listen to some good music, classic or new, properly and with full attention.

Broken Drum Records

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 10:31 pm

    I recall it used to be incredibly important to sequence the tracks on an LP. There had to be that fantastic track that kicked the whole thing off (probably the first single release and maybe the “title track” of the album).

    Then there had to be a couple of other, perhaps less great tracks and another killer one that made you want to flip it over. What was the point of a damp squib at the end of side one? I mean “Great Gig In The Sky” and “Stairway To Heaven” weren’t exactly meadiocre were they?

    Side two had to kick off with another killer, or (if you were really cheeky) a whole different genre of music. Think about Bowie’s “Low” album – two completely different records on two sides.

    OK there were some albums that really were not as clever. I hate to think I really (and I mean really) liked Yes and I used to listen to all those daft noodlings of 4 tracks on a double LP that was “Tales From Topigraphic Oceans”. I can’t even get through one of the 20 minute “movements” now (and I have tried).

    It’s perhaps as clever these days to say you like U2, but I did (once), and I remember the “Joshua Tree” was sequenced by Kirsty MacColl (then married to the producer, Steve Lillywhite). The band needed someone else to make sense of it all – and it’s great sequencing.

    We still need this today. Live gigs need to “rise” and “fall” to take the audience on the journey the band want – and you know (just just know) when it’s gone wrong.

    I have two approaches to podcasts. On the show when I talk, then I try and juxtapose tracks that are different, because I want that discord, and there’s a voice in between to break it up. Plus the show is “radio” and therefore has a limited shelf life.

    On the showswthen it’s a mix, the approach is completely differently. I sequence the tracks like they were an LP, because, to me, that’s what they are – a journey from start to end. Plus I listen to them again.

    So is the modern day album a “play list”, sequenced by the listener, much like the mixtapes I used to make on crappy C90s as a kid? Maybe it’s not what the musician intended, but it’s an interpretation.

    If you managed to make your way to the end of this comment, I thank you. You can be in my record club!

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