22 August 2005

Record Collecting With Sun Tzu

This thread on Dissensus got me thinking.

In particular Blissblogger's comment:

"...don't you feel there's a sort of Protestant Work Ethic cum Epiphany aspect to the drudgery and dusty toil of going through a store's stacks and then YIPPEE, finding something you're after. like you've somehow earned it. and also there's the suspense element. that RUSH aspect is gone with the online shopping


Which reminded me of the frantic head-down rush when Yeovil Record Fair came to town and me and my mate Paul used to try and beat one another to the opening so we could start flicking through the racks and get hold of that Throbbing Gristle live album we'd been looking for or that Whitehouse 7" that we both knew would be in there one day or the 12" of Death Valley 69 on Homestead or the version of Nurse With Wound's Psilotripitarka that came in the all rubber sleeve...

This was record collecting as psychological warfare... we'd constantly evoke Sun Tzu; I can remember distinctly telling Paul the wrong opening times only for him to double-bluff ignorance and start off early... When I saw him ahead of me at the racks with an almost mint copy of TG's 'Psychic Sacrifice" double-set I nearly cried.

Except it wasn't exactly collecting - we'd wanted the originals, sure, but what it sounded like was always the prime concern; the rush was in hearing first, not having. The artefact was secondary to the sensory - the fixed grin of irreverent mind-shrugging was all about knowing that you knew what the Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel record sounded like and he didn't have a clue...

The next day, as you walked home from school, you could hum it absently, thus sending the other, into barrels of confusion and doubt.

Blissblogger goes on to say:

"also, with browsing, there's the finding something you didn't know you wanted, or something you didn't even know existed, aspect"


And he's absolutely right; I've bought maybe 50 records by going into a shop and specifically looking for them, everything else I've picked up while in that head down, 5hr Autism mode of flicking through the racks - something I miss beyond everything else now that I have a wife and kids and everyone else wants to go to the Cornish Pastie Steg Bar for Bio-Mule Stratchings and Sun-Dried Coffee scrapes.

I even miss the smell and the fact that I could answer almost every general knowledge question on Classical Music just from browsing endlessly in bargain bins in Charity Shops... "Nah, mate, you're thinking of the Boulez; released first on Decca in 1969 with a picture of Edith Sitwell on the cover..."

But...the art is not quite dead and I've sublimated this desire via the internet, using it not as a search and destroy tool (where, let's face it, you can find almost every record you want) but as a browser, flicking through the blogs with the same obsessional devotion, downloading stuff because I like the cover posted or a turn of phrase...

I doubt if I've bought a single record by a new band this year that I haven't heard or read about first on the blogs. The rush is still there, only now there are thousands of Paul's out there...

The rush is still there, only now there are thousands of Paul's out there...

11 comments:

Nimiwey said...

I probably should have read more of that post, but it was really long and I have the attention span of a gnat. And, I have a cat named Loki. Well it seemed interesting a minute ago...

Psychbloke said...

Now when you started this blogging lark, be honest, that was exactly the sort of comment you were looking for wasn't it?

Loki said...

Yeah well... what Nimiwey doesn't know is that I am her cat; can't believe she hasn't noticed the paw marks on the laptop...

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The Graduate said...

Loki, I thought that I'd give you a brief respite from spam and say that the post is super duper. I still sho ponline but nothing beats the rush of a mad flick through the bargain bin at the weekly HMV sale or strolling into Oxfam and coming out with the debut Beachwood Sparks album for £3. My specific tactic is to hand unwanted CDs to my fellow bargain hunting friends which attracts their attention through pretty colours so that I may swoop upon the musical gold like an owl upon an unsuspecting vole.

csa said...

pffff. the tears come from having to sell off these records! I go now.

dweller said...

Yeah yeah the Death Valley 69 12 "
Sureley it was the original 7" non album version you were after??
I remember shopping with a pal in Glasgow and he found that 7". I was mortified as he slipped away with my holy grail.
I recorded it onto tape, and then lost the tape.
It's well worth seeking out.

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