16 April, 2006

Sounds incorporated

There are a number of albums which I own, and have done for many years, which I can state here and now I will never ever listen to again.

Indeed, they are mostly albums I have only ever heard to once or twice, yet am still wholly convinced I will never willingly listen to again. The reason I've kept them is the reason I keep everything from my life, including old newspapers, school books, essays, letters, postcards, train tickets, birthday cards and, of course, diaries: to preserve the past, and to do it on my terms, so that as and when I choose I can dip back into it, take from it what I can, try to fathom exactly what I should learn from it, then (hopefully) move on.

Not that I'm sure what I can take from these assorted albums which will be of any use for me today. Amongst this motley collection of considered caterwauling is '30 Something' by Carter, or rather Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, which I listened to once somewhere round 1997 (six years after it was released) and haven't touched since; 'Monster' by REM, easily their worst ever album, a load of shouting and noise and unsubtle histrionics; 'Miaow' by The Beautiful South, which I recall very clearly purchasing with great anticipation on the day of its release, taking it home, putting it on and then reeling with dread at its awfulness*; 'Stars Crash Down' by Hue And Cry which I got for 50p in a second hand shop and have never played at all; and 'Good Humor' (sic) by St Etienne, which unlike all of the group's other albums I singularly abhor (too many real instruments).

I have got rid of some stuff that I decided wasn't even worth keeping just for the sake of it. These have included 'London Calling' by The Clash, which to me was just interminable, impenetrable rabble-rousing; 'Pop' by U2, which didn't have any proper tunes; and 'Infected' by The The, which just didn't sound like pop music. Plus there have been loads of purges at various points in my life, due chiefly to changing tastes, which have led to permanent exile for people like, yes, Phil Collins (though I have kept 'But Seriously...' tucked away in a drawer for pure novelty value. "Do you remember, ooooo it's over" indeed).

I think, however, I've now reached a tolerable equilibrium and will go on carting about these aural anomalies for a fair few years at least. At some point I'll get round to accounting for the genealogy of my music collection and why, for instance, Morrissey's 'Boxers' EP remains while all my Blur singles are probably now in a landfill site somewhere near Ellesmere Port. But not for now. For simply writing about 'Miaow' has tempted me to go back and see if it really was as dreadful as I remember discovering it to be 12 years ago. Such are the perils of reminiscing about something that remains so perilously close at hand.

*I also remember subsequently reading a review that noted how proud the group must be at producing music too insipid to even be played on Radio 2 and lyrics too juvenile to even be quoted on Radio 4. And yes, it's still true.


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