Firstly, let me just start by saying that the title of this post is almost certainly misleading.
This isn’t going to be one of those end-of-year retrospectives of all the music I’ve bought, listened to, discovered or even composed myself, (I can hear the sighs of relief at that last one from here) in fact it’s completely the opposite.
But that doesn’t mean it’s about all the music I haven’t discovered either.
That may take more time and space than I have at my disposal and would anyway depend on me spending the rest of my life catching up with every new piece of music, as it was released, a somewhat impractical proposition.
And, come to think of it, those tracks would all then fall into the “music I have discovered” category, thereby making the whole thing a paradoxical impossibility.
Lucky I’m not doing that then.
Having now moved house twice in a fairly short space of time, I have had to unpack, repack and unpack once more my entire collection of LPs, cassettes (look them up, all you kids under thirty) and CDs and reshelve them.
Since I am in between turntables, (my ancient stereo system, not having taken kindly to moving house, quietly died some months ago) the vinyl stacks have been relegated to a cupboard, along with the hundreds of tapes that I can play, but have no room to have them easily to hand.
That just leaves the CD collection as my currently accessible musical medium, bolstered of course by the thousands of mp3 tracks I have stored on various memory cards, old phones and my tablet.
Now, I’ve never been one of those super-organised, anal-retentive blokes, who has to have all my CDs arranged in order of artist, title, alphabet, colour of album sleeve, maiden name of lead singer’s mother, number of fish inserted into groupie per band member, percentage of exploding drummers or whatever insane variation of their own personal Dewey decimal system those record collector types insist on applying to their libraries of organisational sonic perfection.
You know the type.
The ones who start twitching, Inspector Dreyfus-style, if you go near the immaculately catalogued and colour-coded racks of glittering jewel cases and who pounce on you the second it looks as though you might carelessly replace a disc in the wrong slot or upside down, or fail to insert the sleeve notes correctly behind those infuriating bloody tags on the cover.
No, I just love music.
All sorts of music.
And I like to listen to it in a fairly random way.
I’ve always gone out to buy music with the full intention of finding something I’ve never heard of before; a band I’ve never heard of, a different label, a collection of instruments that appear unusual together, anything that will provide a musical surprise, as well as buying material by tried and tested favourites (a lot of whom I’ve come to know and love via the very same selection process) and I don’t mind saying that I have become rather adept at this…call it a talent of sorts.
The result of this is that I very rarely pick music I don’t like, even completely blind, quite literally judging it from what I can see on the cover.
More than that, I have never stopped listening to any of the thousands of albums I’ve acquired over the years, although obviously it’d take a while to play them all, one after the other….
Hang on, I’ve got an idea.
Or rather, I had an idea.
About six weeks ago.
At a rough count, I’ve got about 600 CDs, stacked on homemade bookshelves in time-honoured, vertical-edge-on view, an arrangement I’ve always found quite aesthetically pleasing.
An attractive, artistic, multi-coloured, ever-changing artwork on your living room wall that plays music, what more could you want?
It occurred to me, not long after I’d unboxed my collection yet again and randomly redistributed it on the shelves (and I do mean randomly, the only criteria being that they are the right way round, for ease of identification) that what better way was there to rediscover all those albums I never got round to hearing from one year to the next than to play the whole damn lot from one end of the shelves to the other?
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, starting with the top left corner of one shelf and working towards the bottom right corner of the other.
So between now and the new year I’m going to play you the odd tune or two each day, just because it interests me to see what you and I will get to rediscover together.
So what was the very first album to kick off this journey of melodic nostalgia…?
…louche ’90s darlings, Suede ‘s “Sci-fi Lullabies”, from which I give you The Sound Of The Streets.
…and as if intent to prove the scope of my musical taste from the very beginning, the melodic randomiser threw out this bizarre oddity from prog rock godfather Judge Smith as the second offering from the eclectic archives.
Here is an excerpt from his extraordinary concept album, “Curly’s Airships”…
Today I’ve already listened to trip-hop, techno and,…um…Jonathan Fire Eater, whatever genre that’s covered by, so you never know where we will have got to by tomorrow.
Don’t touch that dial.