Being an multi-part wander through the Vinyl Connection year in music
The question posed at the end of May was resoundingly answered in June.
The log of purchases book shows over two pages of entries, ending just one shy of a half-century.
Book me into the clinic, doctor. This boy needs vinyl detox.
Or perhaps Analog’s Anonymous.
I’m Bruce and I’m a vinylholic. It’s been two days since my last acquisition.
Before it all gets too squirmy, let’s turn the cool light of statistical analysis on the data.
With 60% of the items costing four dollars or less, we are scarcely talking major expenditure here. A couple of Vinyl Connection’s little obsessions—namely Australian World Record Club covers and TV Special compilations—account for around a dozen low-cost titles while a particularly large garage sale netted another fifteen at a tenner or less. I’m feeling better already. The combination of analysis and confession is so cleansing.
But enough of the statistics and self-serving justifications, what of the music? What, you cry, were the highlights of this cartload of albums?
In the “blokes who sing” category, a 1987 album by Mose Allison brought more than enjoyment, it triggered delight. Ever Since The World Ended is full of wry observations and gentle satire, including the winning self-deprecation of “Puttin’ up with me”. When I played this to Ms Connection she smiled and if she reads this post I’ll be deploying it again quick smart.
Another veteran producing worthwhile music is Graham Nash, whose This Path Tonight (2016) was surprisingly robust and well-crafted.
Picking up the excellent 1976 LP by Nash’s sometime colleagues Stephen Stills and Neil Young was a nice synchronicity. Long May You Run is a very strong album and comes recommended if you are part of the CSN&Y tribe.
Staying up late one evening, I was captured by Roger Waters latest iteration of The Wall on television. Surprisingly, given what I think of that Floyd opus, I found myself riveted by a rare glimpse of the personal overlaid with the overt political messages Waters has inserted into the work. As the credits rolled I found myself ordering the triple vinyl set, thinking that there might be a post about my journey from Wall-Contempt to Waters-Embrace. Hasn’t been written, but you never know.
A love for early electronic music let to yet another on-line order. Raymond Scott was a most interesting musician, recording jazz albums, devising and making his own instruments, and perhaps most bizarrely releasing a series of electronic albums designed explicitly for playing to babies.
Called Soothing Sounds For Baby, the three albums cover the period from birth to toddlerhood with records the Gesell Institute of Child Development (Inc.) described as “indispensable aides to parents during the feeding, teething, play, sleep and fretful periods of infants”. The helpful folk at Music On Vinyl unearthed these 1963 treasures and re-issued them on beautiful silver-grey vinyl. I’ve written them a testimonial confirming that I’ve experienced much less fretful teething since receiving my mail order LPs.
One last arrival deserving mention. After an extraordinarily protracted process, I finally got hold of a re-issue of Peter Gabriel’s Us, one of my favourite albums of the nineties. Full of insight and observation about the challenges of adult relationships, Us is one of the best collections of Mr Gabriel’s career. Another album deserving a VC post.
JULY / AUGUST
Statistical jiggery pokery notwithstanding, some part of the ol’ Vinyl Connection grey matter must have computed the avalanche of black matter, as the next two months showed much more modest entries into the logbook.
Two of the new purchases deserve mention.
First up is that man Gabriel again. The 2017 triple-vinyl re-issue of his Passion music is superb. Evocative, haunting material and outstanding sound.
Having had a false start with my pre-order of the new Public Service Broadcasting LP Every Valley—it arrived damaged—it was with high hopes that I eventually sat down to listen. The expectations were based on how much I loved The Race For Space (2015), an album full of invention, tunes and energy.
Sadly, I must report that Every Valley is rather a dip, in energy if not quality. It is a decidedly earthbound album. Rather than hurtling through space, it’s like we are in low gear, carefully navigating the steep sides of mist-shrouded depression. Perhaps anticipation hatched unattainable expectations. And maybe it will grow on me over a longer period. Trouble is, LPs failing to connect after three or four listens are consigned to the farther reaches of the collection, there to languish until the end of the universe. Or a New Year. Whichever comes first.