4 x 4

To be honest, I’ve forgotten how many post series have been begun and abandoned after two or three articles. Sometimes the ideas have been good, but limited (Art on your Sleeve, for example). Others have driven a theme until it was out of gas (the ‘Car‘ series of album covers springs to mind).

However most series have faded because another idea bustled along, drawing the gaze of a writer with the attention span of a promiscuous bee. Give me a good-looking flower, and I’m off to sip some new pollen. Buzz buzz buzz, I wonder why he does.

Of course, sometimes time or energy simply expire. It’s outrageous how life can get in the way of music/blogging time.

The title of this piece was yet another series idea, this time to celebrate Vinyl Connection’s fourth anniversary with a series of multi-album posts. This is not a new device, of course. The Decade Diving series did much the same thing. But the twist this time was much less random than ‘What I’ve been listening to this week‘:

Four albums,

Each an artist’s Fourth release.

The chosen 4 coming from

Four different decades

Here’s an example:

FAIRPORT CONVENTION — LIEGE & LIEF (1969)

GENTLE GIANT — OCTOPUS (1972)

KATE BUSH — THE DREAMING (1982)

PORCUPINE TREE — SIGNIFY (1996)

But such articles take time. Lots of time.

The clock starts ticking when an idea surfaces. This artist, that year, another style of music. Choices are myriad and the ‘inspiration’ phase can be hugely enjoyable—as long as there isn’t a deadline.

Actual preparation time is a combination of listening time (usually multiple spins) plus a period of gestation and note-taking. Maybe some research or fact-checking. Then, after writing the review, there are pictures to take. The photos have to be edited and sometimes re-taken because they are rubbish. Then there’s text editing, coming up with a (hopefully) catchy title before finally uploading to the blog.

To a mathematician it might look something like this:

Tt ≈ Ic + [(∑ (Lt x 2) + NTt + Wr + F/C + (Ph x 2Ph)↯ + ∫Ed) x N] ± D + UL

Tt ≈ Total time. An approximate total, due to random variables (wine consumption, pesky family commitments, etc).

Ic  = Inspiration to the power of c, where c represents ‘choice’, ie: the options available. With a large collection, it is a substantial (yet finite) number. Sometimes it feels overwhelmingly infinite.

Lt = Listening time

NTt = Note-taking time

Wr = Writing

F/C = Fact Checking

Ph = creating photos. Editing photos takes much longer than snapping, by a factor of two I reckon.

↯ = The massive range of variables operational in photography is indicated by the ‘contradictory statements’ symbol. It also represents the impossibility of taking a truly square photo of a square record cover.

Ed = integrated editing

N = Number of albums included in article

D = Distractions

UL = Uploading to WordPress

Sadly, this wonderful LP is not in the VC collection

It is a wonder that anyone ever gets a post completed, really. And when you consider that  millions of people are posting hundreds of millions of words and images every week, it’s a wonder that anything other than blogging gets done in the entire world. There’s an answer to all the world’s problems right there, if only I could find it.

Anyway, friends, the point is I have not written a single word of a 4×4 article. So instead of something new and perhaps interesting, I am falling back on that old anniversary stalwart, highlighting some favourite posts from the last 0.4 of a decade. In deference to the idea, however, there are two groups of four posts linked below.

The first quartet comprises favourites from the ‘Particular Platters’ category*. The second group consists of ‘Memoir with Music’ pieces.

* Does anyone actually use those categories, I wonder?

*

 

NOWHERE AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME

August 2013

I’ve always been partial to a rock trio. These lads produced a 2004 debut of power and originality and I loved digging into it.

*

SOMETHING’S OUT TO GET YOU

September 2014

Originally written for a guest appearance at another blog, this expanded review of Loudon Wainwright III’s 2012 album about death and mortality remains a favourite. Entry is restricted to those of middle years and above.

*

MULTI-COLOUR OF THE RAINBOLD

November 2015

For the 2015 entry it was an arm-wrestle between the 1968 Small Faces classic and Camel’s Mirage. In the end, sixties wonder just beat out seventies progressive style.

*

JACK JOHNSON — SAY IT LOUD

November 2016

Researching the titular boxer for this piece on Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson album was fascinating. As for the music, it is so intense that multiple listens are required to even begin mining its depths. If this is jazz, it is dangerous to your health.

*

OF FLEAS AND FAUST

October 2013

This second group of posts is a bit shameless, isn’t it? Anyway, I was pleased with this story at the time and am quietly proud of it still. It kind of defines the personal approach that’s the core of Vinyl Connection. And I still really enjoy Faust IV.

*

RETURN OF THE SILVER THING

June 2016

Writing a post trilogy (and more) around the favourite book of my twenties was perhaps a little ambitious for a music blog. Especially as the first parts had very little music in them. This third instalment was a ‘quest’ story that was enjoyable to recall (if not to read).

*

SUNBURY RISES

December 2015

The record shop where I worked has figured several times in these pages. Although the business is long gone, this story bridged 1973, 1979, and the present.

*

GRAHAM—A RECORD STORE TALE

November 2014

Another yarn from Max Rose Electronics. It was a race between this one about a lovely customer and another about a dubious staff member. The customer came first.

*

Thanks for sharing the journey thus far.

Hope you find something to enjoy.

23 comments

  1. That is a great and accurate “Four”mula!! I think it covers everything that goes into putting together a blog. The # I find the highest is always the “D” for Distractions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad it crunched the numbers for you!
      (I do like “Four”mula very much)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. so many greats here – Kate Bush and Gentle Giant are favorites though definitely not casual listening! Have grown more on albums like Wilco’s – very peaceful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have an enduring love of prog or complex rock. And art rock (if that’s where Ms Bush resides). I sometimes think I should have a parallel blog just on progressive music. I think you know where I’m coming from, Doug!

      Like

  3. Kudos, Bruce. Really a wonderful, thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. thomlieb · · Reply

    Very good post, Bruce — it brings some great albums to mind I haven’t heard in some time. And you perfectly capture the complexity of doing a music blog (which is why I am on extended hiatus!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Thom. Hope the sabbatical does the trick, and you return primed for more music sharing.

      Like

  5. That formula is genius! For a few minutes, I got very excited as I prepared to point out that the Capitol Record tower that appears in the Capitol Records logo (pic of Faust IV) also appears on the cover of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, of your second 4 x 4 example [ed: now deleted, sorry!], but I was mistaken. It’s an apartment tower in Chicago. Ah, well. Congrats, again, on the anniversary. (I’m up for another go-around of Art on your Sleeve, should the spirit so move you…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It may not surprise you to hear, J, that the equation began with many fewer elements than it ended up with. This finding a formula for life stuff is a tad complicated. (smile).

      Would love to do another collaborative post. Coming up very soon is Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar but unfortunately this memoir piece is already longer than a prolix Parson’s sermon. I’ll ferret out the original list and have my people talk to your people. (grin)

      Like

  6. It’s been 40% of a decade well spent – Bruce, that equation is superb!
    And should the variables ever add up to a reasonable number on the left side of the equal sign, I’m looking forward to that Fairport/Kate Bush 4×4 post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Geoff. Originally I was trying to channel your good self, and thinking of some sort of graph. But the equation idea was so absurd it demanded development! Now if you could just come up with a four-dimensional pie chart…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    As I sat on my sofa to open my laptop upon putting a FAIRPORT CONVENTION record on, I opened your post! Wowee Zowee!
    I could probably go on about that Talk Talk record you mention too.
    yes, too many calculations and not enough time.
    Too many words, not enough music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too much talk talk leaves insufficient time for Talk Talk. There’s a thesis there somewhere, for sure.
      Thanks for dropping by Bill.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Whew! At least there’s no Donovan here!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Liked this one an awfy lot, Bruce. A nice reminder that I still need to pick up a copy of Ogdens Nut Gone Flake and check out Faust a bit further.

    I also really enjoyed catching up on the posts I’ve missed. Particularly great post about Secret Machines (I left a comment there).

    And yeah, that formula looks about right!

    Like

    1. Unless the Lottery delivers, J, you may have to settle for a re-issue of Odgen’s. Still, we’re not inflexible purists here, are we? Are we?

      Thanks for flipping back to ‘Now here is nowhere’ too. We are in unison: a fine album.

      Like

      1. I actually meant to look for it on CD, but I never got around to it. I would probably rip it to iTunes for the commute, y’know (until I found a lovely slice of vinyl, of course).

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’d be adding a ! to that D in the formula, at least for my writing ‘approach’.
    Engagingly​ written, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to contribute a morsel to the ‘return to the comforts of home’ experience, DD.

      Like

  11. A very cool formula and even cooler post. Happy blogoversary to you! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I expect to be contacted by learned scientific journal imminently, Marty. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Talking about changing things up. CB has wandered off his path once in awhile. I had this great idea (original I thought) to do “CB’s Listening Week”. It’s in my ready to post pile. Tuning into VC today I am reminded of some of your past ideas. And there it is “What I’ve been listening to this week”. It’s like I stole the riff from Bo Diddley. You are that much of an influence on my subconscious. Anyways, a Flo Jenkins take would probably enlighten your listeners. I know it has done something(?) to me.

    Like

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