“Never trust someone who owns a perfect record collection.”, not a bad sentiment to take from an conversation with one of my mentors.
It was good to catch up with Jim Prime this week in the university. The conversation was the polar opposite to the type I’d been having with him a year earlier, mainly because the dark spectre that had been looming over me had been lifted, largely by following his sage advice.
That specific conversation point got me thinking… what records had I omitted on this journey through my musical identity? I’d like to think I’ve been pretty open in my writing thus far. And why would people try to hide their past? What would that really accomplish? What do they fear the outside world will discover?
Luckily, I’m not going to have to be a Lost Prophets apologist; I thought they were a bit shit, long before Ian Watkins’ actions were discovered and rightfully prosecuted, and actively dissuaded others from buying in to their horrid overproduced pop metal. I once had the misfortune of hearing them live as I headed for the exit of the Barrowland Ballroom*. Their harmonies were far from harmonious. It was dreadful, but far be it from me to assume that a band that sold themselves on their vocal harmonies should be able to perform them in key with their music in a live environment.
I feel like I’m getting a little side-tracked, so let’s get back on point.
I suppose the reason for excluding things from the public face of an identity is to control how others perceive the individual and their values. Most people, one might assume, try to look ‘cool’ in front of others, at least until they get to an age where they really just don’t care what other people think of them anymore. Getting back to Thornton’s definition of ‘sub-cultural capital’ it may also be safe to assume that the ‘coolness’ of an individual’s record collection relates to the sub-cultural circles to which they belong or aspire to be involved, and how their membership perceives certain artists or genres.
Being the complex character that I am, I like to think that I have quite a diverse taste in music, ranging from punk rock to folk and trad, the heaviest forms of metal through to funk and disco. That being said, I’ve always placed value on the DIY ethic that promotes the power of a raw performance over super polished production. This is especially important within genres like punk rock and thrash metal that I associated with in my youth.
So, taking these values into account, I think I’m going to have to view these ‘imperfect’ records as ones that may cause me some from of subcultural embarrassment should they be discovered… not that I go out of my way to hide them, they sit amongst my records on display in my living room. I need to find the records that don’t really ‘fit’ with my subcultural identity. It should be noted that I’m not going to count records I was given, only ones I paid for from my own pocket.
Upon further inspection I think that I can really separate my ‘uncool’ records into two categories; the guilty pleasures, and the albums that I now believe to be utter dross and have no idea why I thought they had value in the first place. Here are some choice selections:-
Category 1: It’s hip to be uncool (I’m sure someone said that once)
Let’s start with something simple and relatively divisive within the hard rock and metal community. I liked St Anger. I thought some of the riffs were some of the best by the band, and it was a bold choice for the band to take aesthetically. Yes, the drums do sound gash, but so many of the riff ideas in the songs are cracking. It’s also got a solid beat and rhythm for running in the gym. That album, with a couple of Korn tracks, formed the basis for my treadmill playlist in the summer of 2005. I’d probably pick out Invisible Kid and the Unnamed Feeling as standout tracks on St Anger [cue the metal fan keyboard rage].
Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s debut album The Greatest Hits was a belter. From a musical and technical standpoint it was nothing special, in fact, it was borderline awful. But it was hilarious. The ridiculous humour combined with the strong Welsh accents made it comedy gold, but more importantly it made the album very listenable. I can proudly announce that I’ve been to see them live 4 times, and not by chance at festivals either; I paid for a ticket. Some might look on this as an odd choice for my taste profile, but I love it. What you going to do about it?
NOW 32: It’s a compilation, but it still counts. I bought it because it had Tina Turner’s Goldeneye theme. There are a couple of choice tracks on there, but the majority of it is pretty naff. It’s on cassette tape though… surely the hipsters have made that fashionable again? Wait a second, U2’s Batman Forever theme is on there too. I take it back. I don’t want anything to do with this album.
Category 2: Subcultural Suicide… what the hell did I see in these?
Spice by the Spice Girls. I have no idea what I was thinking. It’s entirely possible I was trying to fit in with the more mainstream and chart pop addled kids. Or maybe I just fancied the pants off Baby Spice. I have no idea where the record is now, nor do I want to know. Retirement as a coaster would be too good for this trash.
Will Smith was a pretty big deal back in the late 90’s. Fresh Prince of Bel Air was on BBC2, Men in Black and Independence Day smashed it in the cinema, and the big man himself released Big Willie Style. I’m not sure whether I was aspiring to be as cool as he was, I certainly couldn’t pull off the white jacket he’s sporting on the album cover. In spite of the humorous title, it’s quite an embarrassing purchase given the way the subcultures in which I like to involve myself tend to rail against overtly commercial music. The songs on it were ultimately forgettable… except Gettin Jiggy Wit It. That’s a timeless classic.
Anyway, that’s enough of this. I’m off to check out one of Jim’s recommendations from our chat earlier; Fishbone.
*I was there to see Audiovent, a band fronted by the brother of Brandon Boyd of Incubus fame. They sounded a lot like Incubus. Fact.
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