Thursday, 28 April 2011

Joe Jackson Ruined My Life

I'm running out of room. The custom-built shelving erected to house my vinyl was supposed to be sufficient to accommodate decades' worth of new additions to the collection. I think subconsciously I saw those empty shelves as a challenge. They were taunting me: "Call that a record collection you wimp? Man-up and fill me with your twelve inchers!" So I did, and now that those shelves are groaning with the weight of my frequent deposits, I need to find other receptacles for my Long Players. My wife refuses even to consider my suggestion that we downsize the family. Giving up one of the kids for adoption would free up a whole room for vinyl storage in one fell stroke, but will she listen to reason?  Er, that would be a no! Neatly shelved vinyl can look imposing, impressive and, dare I say, aesthetically pleasing, but with piles of records having found their way onto the dining room furniture, it might be time for a more wife-friendly storage solution. I don't want to be one of those collectors who appears to have lost the plot. I refuse to be that guy who has to lift a mountain of LPs off the toilet seat every time he wants to answer the call of nature. I don't relish the thought of sleeping standing up, wedged between precariously balanced pillars of vinyl.

Cat taking up valuable space

To compound the problem, and at the risk of sounding scarily 'Nick Hornby's High Fidelity' about all this, my LPs are currently stored alphabetically by artist and I'm loathe to have for example, A to T in one room and U to Z elsewhere. There's just something not right about that. What would be acceptable would be to introduce a completely new filing system. If I gave every album marks out of ten and relegated the 3s and below to storage in the nether regions of the house, that might make sense. The problem with that is that I'd have to listen to every album at least once to determine its grade, and I doubt I'll live long enough to have time for such a project and my wife would probably kick me out long before I really got my teeth into it anyway. Also, the success of that particular system would depend on my remembering the rating that I'd given every LP. A filing system which virtually guarantees that I'll never find anything? Not ideal. The obvious solution is to split the collection up by genre. I've long considered this, but can't help but see pitfalls. I would love to have all my Progressive Rock LPs in one easily accessible section to drool over, but what happens when a band like Soft Machine goes and introduces Jazz into the mix, where the hell do you file them then? There's all these fantastic Progressive Jazz-Rock Fusion artists that blur musical boundaries, the bastards! Don't they have any consideration for the anally-retentive vinyl nerd? And Kansas, what about them? Sometimes they're Prog, other times they're more straight AOR. Am I supposed to split their catalogue up into different sections? Sacrilege! Can't these Progressive bands try a little harder to avoid any musical progression and just churn out a stream of easily classifiable product? Is that too much to ask?

One artist leaps out at me as single-handedly encapsulating the whole file-by-genre minefield, and that is Joe Jackson. He unleashed some supreme Powerpop on his Look Sharp! and I'm The Man albums, but went and clouded the issue with every subsequent release, most notably the Swing/Jazz of Jumpin' Jive. So where do you want me to file you then Joe, you genius eclectic bugger? Oh, and look, you've even dabbled in film soundtracks with Mike's Murder. I give up, carry on like this and you'll find yourself filed in the charity shop pile.

No, you're an eclectic pain in the arse

Maybe that's the answer: a spot of rationalisation. Weed out the under-performers to free up some space. Does anyone really need eleven REO Speedwagon albums?

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