Thursday, May 13, 2004

My nine new records

I love buying records. I especially like to buy them from Amazon, where I can linger by the racks without some kid's rucksack in the small of my back and the muzak is my choice, not some guy who thinks Evanescence rawk.
So I was delighted to get a gift certificate from my excolleagues, and spent a happy hour or two selecting nine CDs that fill gaps in my collection. Some I used to have on vinyl -- I still don't know who stole my record collection; I left it with a friend when I went travelling a few years back, and by the time I returned, I'd forgotten who, and they'd sold it, I guess -- and some I had once taped but now could own for myself. The package arrived a couple of days ago, so the house has been shaking to the sounds of the CDs I chose.
The other day I bought Decade. Someone had lent me Harvest and I realised what I'd been missing (I've known his more recent stuff for years, but I can't believe that I've never heard Cortez the killer before). It would take some time to buy up Neil Young's whole back catalogue, the guy has more records than the state archives, but I thought a retrospective might help fill the gaps. Anyhow, one of my ten was Ragged glory. I'd like to personally hand that album to the youngsters of our town, who think that the lame, whinging rawk they plague their neighbours with kicks arse. Some guy made it in a studio, kids -- usually a guy older than Neil Young, but lacking his fire and balls.
Fire and balls are what make rock. When I was a tearaway, I loved Husker Du, because they seemed to be wholly composed of them. I still do love them, and one of my ten was Zen arcade. It's a double album of first-take punk. It teems with ideas. In dark hours, I wonder why these guys don't sell millions, then I remind myself that the world is what it is, with rules by Adam Smith and Thomas Hobbes not Aldous Huxley.
Sonic Youth veer between almost -- well, actually totally -- unlistenable art rock and sublime wiggy guitar blowouts, sometimes in the same song. On Sister and Daydream nation, the inventiveness usually stays within the bounds of bearability. It's a pity they never realised how good they were.
The casual reader will be thinking Dr Zen is some longhaired rock fiend, but scrub that picture. I have a nice, tidy short haircut and I mostly don't care for rock at all. Punk yes, guitar solos no. Attitude is what it is. So yes, the Replacements' Let it be was another of my ten new records, but that's as straight ahead rock as I get. More typical would be Kraftwerk. I used to own Computer world in English and German, but these days I have to sing along in German myself, because the German version would be too much gelt for a man who is currently in the leisured classes.
I also bought a box set of Manu Chao and Billie Ray Martin's second album. Manu Chao stirs a mad melange of son, salsa, reggae and whathaveyou into world-music nursery rhymes that make Zenella dance like St Vitus. Billie Ray Martin has a great soul voice, which is pretty rare in a German, and is her huge plus, who writes her own material, which is her big minus. Her record is way overproduced and the genre -- R&B I guess you'd call it -- doesn't suit her half as much as techno used to (if you ever hear Your loving arms, you'll know what I mean).
Rounding off my new records is Get ready. New Order made the soundtrack to my life. Without question, when they film my novels, I'll have it written into the contract that they do the score. sigh...


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