I fancy myself a take it or leave it kind of guy. But I have hung on to a lot of records and now cds.
And I mean a lot of records.
And a lot of cassettes (incidentally. I made these shelves from one of the kids' old beds).
And a lot of people (well, my wife and my dad) ask me why do I have so many and why can't I make do with fewer. I probably hang on to more than I need through a mixture of inertia and diffidence but the answer to why I buy so many in the first place lies in the world of The Lost Jukebox.
This is a series of over 200 cds compiled by an American called Jeffrey Glenn from pop singles from the 60s and 70s, mostly, from the US and UK, generally speaking, that failed to make a significant impression on the charts, more or less. So far,so ordinary. What sets this apart is the sheer quality of the music on offer. None of it is from any recognisable genre or sub-culture of those years, it is all mainstream popular music issued by major record labels recorded by proper musicians accompanied, often, by an orchestra. It should be the squarest compilation ever.
But Glenn has made brilliant choices in what he includes on each cd. They are not thrown together to show what a large collection he has. Many of the cds are themed around girls names or the summer or the Beatles. Each cd is pleasingly sequenced and the material chosen is of a consistently high and innovative standard.
I have spent much of the past year listening to these cds and most of the music on this blog is taken from them. I have previously heard only a very small fraction of the music on these discs. And I have heard a lot of music before.
The big black wodge in this photo are the Lost Jukebox cds piled together.
I have been listening to popular music for almost 40 years and here is a huge range of material none of which I had heard before. And some of it is sensational.
That is why I keep acquiring music. To hear something I have not heard before and that will make me feel different or change my view or just bring me pleasure.
I have started trying to find copies of those 45s on the Lost Jukebox that I have particularly enjoyed, some of which are on this blog. I want to have the record as cds do not count.
Glenn's achievement is significant, I think. He is more than a compiler and this is more than a comilation. But even if that were all it was, it is still a significant technical accomplishment. Think of how many 45s you might have. Now imagine compiling only those that conform to the 60s and 70s timeframe and have not been included on any compilation before and organising them in a pleasing sequence. Now imagine doing that 230 times. And then he had to actually put the music onto the cds.
I think it is a significant art project which stands against those who might claim that some genres of popular music have more, deeper significance than others. Glenn does not attempt to weed out the hip from the square, the groovy from the bandwagon jumpers exploiting that week's teen craze. He provides no context and makes no attempt to isolate quality from the tawdry. Everything here is judged solely on musical merit, which sounds obvious but so many people judge pop music on non-musical grounds. Glenn sends us back to judge on the basis of our ears alone (literally in my case, as my eyes will not allow me to read the track listing on printed versions of the cd covers).
I think that the timeframe is also significant. I doubt that I would wish to listen to 200 cds of mainstream popular music from the 80s and 90s.