This little lot left the studio today, a raft of Hip Hop, Trip Hop, Turntablism and other assorted breaks and beats that I can live without for the moment. I’ve not had a good sort out since the mid noughties and it really is time. I said last year in the Record Collector piece that I had spent 40 years building up a collection and was planning on spending the next 40 dismantling it. Well not quite but boiling it down to essentials is the main thing for me now, I have too much, some of it hasn’t aged well and I only have so much space.
It’s a pretty satisfying experience to be rid of this much in one fell swoop too and, again, going through the shelves I’m reminded of several things that I’d forgotten about. Divine Styler’s little known ‘Spiral Walls of Autumnal Light’ album, J-Live‘s second album, Broadway Project‘s first, ‘Compassion’ – all solid records that may have taken a few listens the first time and still contain forgotten treats. Those Lemon Jelly singles with the crazy denim, leather and sack sleeves, hand-painted promo 12″s, and designs for lesser known releases like this Kid Acne cover for Rex Records.
One thing that’s a godsend and will be sadly lacking for future generations of music fans, historians and librarians is the record sleeve. Not just for the obvious large canvas that the cover affords and the packaging opportunities but for the small print and credits on the back. Several times whilst going through records I’ve flipped over a sleeve to discover someone was part of the process that I never realised, little messages that flesh out the release, lyrics and thank-you’s. I kept records where I had a thanks, a cover design was just too nice to part with or, in the case of most of the Finders Keepers releases, the sleeve notes are an education in themselves.
The art of finding samples is all about reading the small print, noting engineers, producers, player, studios, labels and year of issue wherever that is hidden on the recording. Now without sleeves, labels and inners that is being lost – iTunes doesn’t even have a box to add the label to the mp3 info and how many of your files are tagged with the year they were released? What about mixes? All those tracks, sitting together without a tracklist let alone the writer, label and year of issue. We’ll have a situation similar to the taping of mixes off of radio years back where you’ll never know what track 4 was, I suppose Shazam could come into play here.
It does bear thinking about though, not only are we entering a time where music is becoming faceless, it’s also becoming credit-less too. Instead of a quick flip of the sleeve we’ll have to consult the web to find info on tracks in the future, pdf ‘booklets’ with albums is all fine and well but how many of those do you have? People need to tag their files with as much info as possible but I doubt many are going to include the publisher, the engineer, who worked the desk or the equipment used. Should a site like Discogs ever disappear, (surely the no.1 music info resource on the web?), what would we be left with?