Wednesday 14th February
Author’s Note – this book will never be finished because I keep adding to the damn thing. So, it will be a series of snapshots in time. There are 4 elements to my record collection. The most important and most enduring are the CDs, many bought first on Vinyl, taped to cassette and re-purchased later on CD. I also have a large and rarely played collection of CD singles, many with rare tracks on them. Not to be forgotten are the cassettes, recently played but again consigned for now to their lonely existence in the garage – along with a few boxes of Vinyl and 12 inch singles. One day I will get round to fishing out my record deck and playing these too – though I will probably save them on my computer. They call this progress – but I am not sure anything can replace the thrill of sitting on a bus home clutching your new unheard Album and reading the sleeve notes and lyrics. But let us start with the CD’s – filed as you might expect in alphabetical order (almost, for some reason Elton John is filed under E, not J, but hey does it really matter). I tend to only keep CDs I like in my collection but a few duds have strayed in, and I find it hard to simply get rid of these; they hang on like odd socks or ornaments you keep meaning to get rid of. Maybe once I have bought the thing I find it hard to admit defeat and imagine that one day I will get to appreciate it. Who knows…
A – Absolute Beginners I only bought this as most people did, because of the two Bowie songs on it. It is a soundtrack of a 1986 film which flopped, and apart from the Bowie tracks and one from Ray Davies it is pretty dire. Actually, only the title song by Bowie is really any good.
A – Ryan Adams Not to be confused with Bryan Adam, he was once the golden boy wonder, who would take the Singer-Songwriter world by storm. He used to be in an excellent country-ish band Whiskytown (see W) and went solo in 2000 (see, contrary to popular opinion I do have stuff later than the Sixties in my collection) with the brilliant Heartbreaker (my favourite of his). This is almost a perfect record; his voice is plaintive, pleading, sad – and yet joyful on some songs. Sometimes just acoustic guitar, sometimes quite rocking. And some gorgeous melodies; best songs ‘Be My Winding Wheel’, ‘Come Pick Me Up’ and ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’. When this record came out, the critics were talking of Ryan maybe joining the ranks of Neil Young and James Taylor – he was that talented, but actually; quite like Neil he seems to have followed his muse, not caring what the critics say, and losing fans along the way – me included. His next was a huge hit ‘Gold’, a more mature and assured record with less acoustic songs and better production. Some great songs too – ‘Nobody girl’ ‘Answering Bell’ and ‘The Rescue Blues’ among them. It is almost as good as Heartbreaker but loses something, some touch of sadness and regret maybe. But still, a triumph.
And then what happened? Well, maybe he just decided to plough his own furrow, or wanted to be awkward. He has continued to release albums, some good and some not so good. But somehow the quality of his song-writing seems to have slipped. I now only buy the occasional CD if I see it in a second-hand shop. I have two others in my collection; ‘Love is Hell’, which I think was his fourth – it is truly miserable, and this from a fan of Leonard Cohen; one or two decent songs but bleak. I also have ‘29’ another disappointing record. Still, I continue to read his reviews…and you never know.