Friday, 7 October 2011

Box sets and boredom

I am starting to obsess over lists of records I never play. Cataloguing music that is silent – on the internet.

It never ends – this exploitation of memories. There was an article in The Observer, in the review section – not the main part – the politics parts – badly written but politics nonetheless – no the review section all hip and wise – hanging with the youth [of today] and telling us stuff we don’t know [including what to wear and listen to at the same time]

And here was a disparate piece reminding us that The Smiths had existed and that people had liked them – and that people still liked them. The Smiths are just about to reissue all their albums all Marr mastered and marvellous now – in a box with stuff inside it.

But what do you want to pay?

It seems that the age I have now reached comes with an offer to buy back all my musical youth in new forms – housed in elaborate pieces of cardboard with cloth or replica tickets and photographs of 7 inch sleeves on tea towels. Do you want vinyl with that – that’s extra? That CD of sessions is available as a download with the code from the second set of gatefold digipack releases. All authentic and genuine with liner notes from Everett True [because he knew Nirvana – well Kurt especially and Kurt sells shit – lots of it]

And part of me is hooked – wants an in – a bite of the apple [reissues] yet part of me feels it’s just clogging the system. Okay – I guess at a shove I can appreciate a re-mastered version – a one off thing. And I am longing for someone to re-master the World of Twist’s Quality Street – it needs it – to be the honest the world needs it – but the world doesn’t always listen. I think it’s just the sheer commerciality of the whole enterprise. I own all the Sea of Tunes CDs that document the takes and aches of Beach Boys classics – from scratch vocal to final mixes. Really, there are four CDs for the Christmas Album alone. Four discs – hours of outtakes just for that album – which is an outtake itself. I have not listened to all of them – in fact I have hardly listened to them at all – I do not have this time – I cannot make this time. I have the albums – they have the songs on them – I like the albums. I like most of the songs.

But the boxes keep on growing.

My brother Paul tends to be able to get hold of all these things – cataloguing as we do – so things invariably wind their way to me on CD. All track listed and unlistened to. I know I should care about those demos that The Smiths made, or the lost La’s tapes or the mono mix of Smile. But I’m digging the scene that exists I guess – not raiding the archives for another touch of brilliance. There She Goes is wonderful – can bring you to your knees – it doesn’t matter what the story is of its evolution – it’s development – it is a piece of plastic rotating at 45rpm – it is a song – that we sing. I don’t want an alternate mix or different set of lyrics – I wanna sing the simple songs that make me [dr] feel good. Not wade through CD5 of the b-sides and demos - which I did yesterday – through curiosity and writing this [don’t want to be a hypocrite – I guess] so I listened to the Mary Chain – the Power of Negative Thinking box set – starting with a demo I had never heard and then running through alternate sounds, screams and sighs, feedback and racket and rushes of hate and anger.

But it is not Psychocandy – its the experiments before – the beginnings and whilst interesting – it takes the gloss off. To me the Mary Chain are fucking rock n roll – the Glaswegian Underground all surface noise and internal heartache – all black clothes and colourful souls. Who made a debut album that seemed plucked from nowhere all echoing and resonating with contempt for the MAN. Yet these songs suggest that they had to be written [ and I know they did – I’m not an idiot] but when I first heard these songs – these finished songs – in my bedroom as Paul turned up the volume – it felt like they came readymade – a band just plugged in and played – we have amplifiers, we have guitars and that – we write songs. Do I need William and Jim’s ‘journey’ to be told – to be dissected over the course of five discs?

Do I want another Smile Sessions box set? Wilson finished it – he put it out in 2004 – it is Smile – brought to you from the ears and mouth of the man who wrote it – Van Dyke finished the lyrics – it is over – Smile is excellent – I do not need the Mike Love sneer under the roughly mixed recordings whilst Brian was pushed over the edge in 1966.

I appreciate that they exist I guess.

But don’t dip my wallet because you know we are obsessive. That’s a fucking liberty.