This will probably be the last post of the year so it’s time to review the year’s purchases. I have just tallied the totals for 2011 and it was a healthy year of acquisition. Well over a purchase every two days! This cheers me up. The stats are interesting to me. I’d aimed by midyear for about $100 a month on music and I’ve overstepped that by about 16%. Many titles were had for a song, but some required deep pockets. I’d like to try to chip this down to see how little I can spend for the maximum amount of fun. Sales like the Harvest Records anniversary sale in August go a looooong way to keeping my stats down. Here are the breakdowns.
Total titles purchased: 195
Total cost: $1399.68
Average cost: $7.18/title
– LP: 16
– 12″: 42
– 10″: 5
– 7″: 10
– stand alone: 2
– bundled: 12
There were 14 DVDs, but only two were discrete titles, the Cramps [r.i.p] and OMD. The rest revealed the industry’s penchant for bundling DVDs as a gimmick to spur sales of “uncool” physical media. The 10″ single was more prevalent that I would have guessed. Two of these are new catalog items. The last single by OMD came on CD and 10″ and for old time’s sake, I had to get the 10″ of “History Of Modern [part 1]” as well as the packed to the gills CD5. Not only was it OMD’s best single from their 2010 “History Of Modern” album, but it continued a long tradition of OMD releasing singles on the 10″ format. Ultravox, perhaps sensing my “collectoritis” regarding OMD wisely bundled their new live EP in a über-deluxe omnibus package that included both the CD5 and red vinyl 10″ in a textured gatefold 10″ cover complete with lavish art book insert. And I have to say it was priced really low for what the buyer received. The duplication on that puppy must have cost plenty if tales of the “Blue Monday” sleeve are anything to go by.
The 7″ single was more scarce that I would have guessed up front. Only one of these was new catalog, the Duran Duran Record Store Day “Girl Panic” David Lynch remix. The rest were oldies but goodies. Two of them [the first Stephen Duffy single and a Spain-only Black 45 with a unique B-side] cost a packet. I thought for certain that there would be at least a dozen 7″ singles, but the good stuff [~30 years old] is getting harder to find. It used to be that trips to stores like Wax N’ Facts in Atlanta just had to include an hour of 7″ bin searching, but all of the singles I would want to buy have been sold in the intervening decades and there’s not enough left to be worth my while to dig for. The vast majority of 7″ records for sale in 2011 were “contemporary” 45s dating back from the last 20 years or so and if I see one more “hipster” vinyl release with an ugly cover photo and no textual information [gee, thanks, Peter Saville] housing what is undoubtedly ugly music, it will be too soon! On the other hand, flipping through bins filled with this dreck makes browsing a lot easier for me. If I can’t recognize/identify it, I guess I really won’t care.
Lots of music bloggers will probably be making their year-end “top 10” lists, but I can’t really go there. It’s just my nature that the vast bulk of what I am most interested in buying is around 30 years old. If at any year during the last decade I actually bought an album the year of its release, it felt weird to me. Years of being a cheapskate has also taught me that my music buying dollar is maximized by waiting and buying it used. This year, I actually bought fourteen releases date stamped 2011, so here are my “Top 14” releases of 2011, I guess.
2011 TOP 14
- John Foxx + The Maths: Interplay
- John Foxx + The Maths: The Shape Of Things
- Magazine: No Thyself
- Cold Cave: Cherish The Light Years
- Gavin Friday: Catholic
- Claudia Brücken: Combined – The Best Of Claudia Brücken
- Tom Waits: Bad As Me
- OMD: History Of Modern [part 1] EP
- Black: Any Colour You Like
- Ultravox: Moments From Eden
- Dex Romweber Duo: Is That You In The Blue?
- Brian Eno/Rick Holland: A Panic Of Looking
- OMD: Live In Berlin
- Various Artists: Return To The Dark Side Of The Moon/Wish You Were Here Again
That was easy. Only six of these qualify as “new albums” to me. The rest are compilations/live albums. The OMD EP is album length but nominally a single. Of the “new albums” this was definitely the year of John Foxx + The Maths! Their “Interplay” album is Monk ear-bait of the strongest variety possible. Then they released another album in October. I’m finally listening to listening to it now and it’s incredible. More challenging than the unabashed ear candy of “Interplay,” and possibly stronger for it. It seems that the sky’s the limit for John Foxx + The Maths.
Magazine stepped rightfully back into the bright, white spotlight always reserved for their presence with what sounds like little effort. Cold Cave have made the album you always wanted from New Order – groovy. But one track [“The Great Pan Is Dead”] veers far afield from that simpler goal to map out territory I’ve not heard touched upon since Glen Branca and No Wave over 30 years ago. If their next album is all like that… [shudders of anticipation]. In the meantime, enjoy the album you were wanting after “Power Corruption + Lies.” Tom Waits has remained amazing as ever with a powerhouse of an album. “Hell Broke Luce” is just an incredible song that only he could do. The Black release was one of two downloads bought. Watch this space. And finally, a big “welcome back” to Mr. Gavin Friday, who has not released a solo album in 16 years.
Considering the focus of this blog, it’s really the re-issues that deserve the biggest spotlight. As we prepare to transition from the physical realm to the non-corporeal one, I can’t help but feel that the likes of the outrageous CD remasters that compel me to buy for the second or third time, albums I have been enjoying for decades, must be peaking right now and will soon begin their inevitable waning. But not before I can still trumpet RMs of the likes that manage to get the tight-fisted Monk to part with his precious shekels in these, the end times. Most of the re-issues I bought have been out in the marketplace for a while. There were two deluxe RMs issued this year that proved that our antipodean neighbors can match the sort of remastered thrills that the UK usually provides.
May and August brought deluxe Icehouse issues of their debut album as Flowers, abetted by a disc of live rarities and a DVD of vintage performances, as well as a comprehensive “best of.” It was great finally hearing their rendition of “Cold Turkey” after knowing about it for 30+ years. As summer ended, Icehouse then released their 30 single “best of” called “White Heat: 30 Hits” and besides the joy of many seven inch mixes, its main draw was a DVD of every video the band made to promote those singles; some in completely different Northern and Southern Hemisphere productions. The icing on this cake was that all of the audio on the [PAL] DVD was remixed in 5.1 surround sound!
Speaking of which, this was the year The Monk finally crossed that technological line in the sand I’d resisted easily for years, having limited budget as well as space. It was hearing a really good 2.0 system at a B+B we stayed at in March that lit a fire and when we got home, the vintage 1985 stereo was duly upgraded with an obsolete [to some] 5.1 system via the wonder of Craigslist for a pittance. I’d previously had only the wondrous DVD-A of Simple Minds’ “New Gold Dream” which I’d sagely purchased the single time I ever saw it, many years in advance of having the equipment to play it properly. This year, aside from the wonder of Icehouse in 5.1 on the “White Heat” DVD, there were dual-discs of the best two Talking Heads albums.
That would be “Fear Of Music” and “Remain In Light.” These 2005 vintage discs were CD RMs on one side and DVD-A on the other. The remixed 5.1 is stunning and I want their first two dual-discs as well. I managed to get these used for a song. A friend also gave me the much appreciated “In The Court Of The Crimson King” CD+DVD-A RM from 2009 for my birthday. Sure, it’s not New Wave but it is nonetheless amazing music that has reverberated strongly for 42 years now; and for good reason. Finally, my favorite artist, John Foxx, got into the 5.1 act with a boxed set of the complete “Cathedral Oceans” albums [all three] bundled in a hardcover book with a DVD-A in 5.1 of “Cathedral Oceans III.” Sure, hearing the ambient choral music is stunning, but the “Metatronic” set I also purchased contains a bonus DVD of mostly video but included as [hopefully] the shape of things to come is a 5.1 teaser featuring Mark Reeder’s surround remix of the devastating “Underpass” single. More, please!!
P.S. A previously ordered copy of the new John Foxx + The Maths album, “The Shape Of Things” arrived on December 30th, 2011. So I have updated my stats.
P.P.S. And then a record arrived in the mail today, December 31st, from a friend. Barring any last minute special delivery gifts I don’t know about, this wrap up is now in lockdown.
– 30 –