I was very enthusiastic about Record Store Day when it first started getting off the ground back in the late 00s. Amazon was sweeping all before, independent record stores faced complete obliteration and it was a worthy exercise to show those that were hanging on some love and support. One of my most enjoyable Record Store Day experiences back then was a on a weekend trip to Antwerp, wandering from store to store, catching a variety of live bands playing instore and coming home on the Eurostar with an armful of CDs, both new and second-hand.
These days, however, Record Store Day has become so synonymous with the vinyl revival craze and all the attendant limited edition vinyl releases that go with it that it just doesn’t speak to me at all. As a dedicated CD collector, I don’t bear it any ill-will and I am very happy for stores to cater for their vinyl market in this way, and for the artists and record companies that supply them. But it’s not my day.
Easy to produce and cheap to mail out and easy to sell at gigs (unlike lugging huge crates of clunky vinyl around) CDs provide a decent revenue stream for musicians on a quality format for fans.
That is why I now think we need an annual day to celebrate the CD each year, and those who sell them – whether that’s record stores, independent online retailers and the artists themselves. I don’t begrudge vinyl fans their day. There’s loads of cultural events that completely pass me by – from Eurovision to football to royal weddings. And Record Store Day is one of those. Great for those who it means something to but it’s no longer my day.
So let’s have an international Day of the CD each year. Who’s up for it?
I obviously talk a great deal about my love of music in Darren’s Music Blog but I thought it might be an idea to give readers a quick tour of my actual CD collection.
Although I was a keen purchaser of vinyl in my mid to late teens during the first part of the 1980s, frequent house moves in my late teens and early 20s meant that the format was becoming a bit cumbersome. By the time the 1990s came along I was glad to embrace the CD and gradually began building up a collection. From just a handful of CDs thirty years ago it’s now grown to what it is today. They are not all new. Many have come from charity shops and second-hand record shops and record fairs. I’ve had a couple of bulk acquisitions, including when my father, a passionate life-long rock fan, unexpectedly died back in 2007.
The filing system
For many years I just used to keep my CDs in alphabetical order. When I had merely a couple of hundred it was the easiest way of finding what I wanted. But as my collection grew I found I spent more and more time browsing to decide what I fancied putting on. I rearranged everything into a rough and ready series of genres. Given my varied musical tastes this is particularly handy as it means I can browse through the shelves according to my mood, depending on whether I’m in a folk mood or a heavy metal mood or whatever.
A walk through the sections
From left to right the subdivisions for each genre (and there’s no particular reason for them being in this order) are as follows:
Folk and acoustic – lots of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span plus numerous others artists spanning the late 50s folk revival and skiffle boom to the present day. The more mellow acoustic end of the singer-songwriter/Americana genre is also included here. It’s mainly all about me being able to browse according to mood so I certainly don’t get hung up on what constitutes ‘folk’.
Heavy metal – pretty self-explanatory and includes everything from AC/DC to Black Sabbath to Motorhead, plus a growing collection of ‘New Wave Of Classic Rock’ releases. Again, I don’t get hung up on precise definitions: if it’s loud with plenty of guitar solos I know I’ll find it in here.
50s rock and roll and traditional blues – from Chuck Berry to Little Richard and from B.B. King to Muddy Waters they are all kept together here. A nicely growing part of my collection and some great charity shop finds.
General rock and miscellaneous – this is basically my ‘everything else’ section for stuff that hasn’t been put into a special category of its own. It includes the likes of the Beach Boys, Santana and Status Quo along with anything from a genre that hasn’t got its own section. I’ve not got a reggae collection but do have a handful of CDs by the great Bob Marley. They go in here, along with Sandy Shaw and Dusty Springfield.
Prog – from the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd to Barclay James Harvest and Yes, it’s all in here.
Punk and New Wave – back in the day I never really bought much in the way of punk or new wave artists but over time and through lots of great charity shop purchases I’ve built up a nice little collection including Blondie, the Clash, the Stranglers et al.
We now head down the hallway and into the spare room where I’ve recently set up another set of matching second-hand Ikea shelving units. They are far from full at the moment so some of them are just used for DVD’s, notepads, and bits of pieces of home-office life until my collection grows. The first two units are full though and contains the following:
Brit-pop and Indie – Blur, James, the Las, Supergrass et al are all in here. I bought a handful of these CDs when they originally came out. I was an enthusiastic Supergrass fan from the get-go – but many I’ve been able to buy for next to nothing from charity shops as all the 40-somethings dispense with their CD collections and switch to digital or vinyl or whatever else the cool people buy these days.
Glam rock – anyone who has had more than a glance at this blog will be aware of my passion for all things glam. It’s not really my era. I was only six when the Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’ and Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ came out but by my early teens I was absolutely hooked, courtesy of Slade’s early 80s revival and many second-hand discoveries at Preston’s Action Records. As well as Slade and Sweet there’s the Glitter Band, Hello, Mud, T. Rex et al all filed here.
Frequently asked questions
Where do you get your shelves from? The first few I bought brand new from Ikea. All the subsequent ones have been picked up second-hand to match. It’s as easy to buy second-hand Ikea CD shelves for next to nothing these days as it is to buy CDs.
How do you file your CDs within each genre? Alphabetically by artist surname or band name and in original release date order for each artist with any compilations at the end. However, I do also make use of a bit of pragmatic grouping if an artist who is mainly involved with a band also releases a solo album. Mick Jagger’s She’s The Boss is under ‘R’ for the Rolling Stones, for example, not ‘J’ for Jagger.
I’ve rarely been able to go past a charity shop without having a quick browse through their second-hand CDs. To be fair this usually doesn’t take long. Shops usually have a shelf or two with around 100-150 CDs for sale and usually the majority of them hold no interest for me at all as they fall into two categories:
1. Old-time easy listening – the likes of James Last, Vera Lynn, Max Bygraves, Harry Secombe and so on. You get tons of these in most charity shops. My guess is that they belonged to people in their late 70s/80s who have either died or gone into nursing homes and their CDs have been passed on to the charity shop by their families.
2. 90s/00s chart pop – the likes of Take That, Spice Girls, Ronan Keating and numerous X Factor winners. Again, you see tons of these in charity shops and my guess is they belonged to 30-somethings or early forty-somethings who have offloaded them, either because of changing musical tastes or because they don’t want to have anything as desperately uncool as CDs in the house and have switched to downloads. Occasionally, you see some Britpop-era CDs amongst these and (particularly as I wasn’t able to afford to buy too many CDs back in the 90s) I’ve been able to pick up numerous second-hand bargains by the likes of Blur, Cast, The Boo Radleys, Ocean Colour Scene, The Levellers and so on to add to my collection.
However, what was very rarely seen, until recently, was the kind of classic rock albums that are the mainstay of my CD collection. This is starting to change it would appear and in the past year I’ve picked up numerous CDs for 50p or a pound by the likes of Ray Davies, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson, Fleetwood Mac, Meatloaf, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy.
It could be that these are the result of people either switching to digital (or switching back to vinyl) and disposing of their CDs in the process. But I doubt that accounts for the bulk of them somehow. My guess is that just as we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of rock star deaths – guys in their 60s and early 70s being tragically taken away from us, we are probably also witnessing a similar trend amongst rock fans as well. A tragedy for their families, certainly, as I know only too well. But good news,perhaps, for the quality of the CD shelves in charity shops.
The baby-boomer generation may have unwittingly cast a huge question mark over their grand-children’s futures by voting for Brexit in such overwhelming numbers but at least their impeccable good taste in music is available for the benefit of future generations and can now be snapped up at bargain prices at a charity shop near you.