Types of record albums (after Italo Calvino)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


– you loved for a year and never played again
– that you like because they remind you of a specific time in your life
– that complete a collection (artist, label, or genre)
– you want to hear but are never in the right mood to play
– you want to like but can never keep on past the second song
– you once owned on cassette but gave away to encourage yourself to buy the LP or CD but which you never get around to picking up again
– you keep even though you hate them, because someone important gave them to you
– that you only play to impress your friends
– that you love dearly but rarely play
– that demand to be heard now
– that should only be played loud
– that should only be heard in the dark
– that you own because you think you should
– that you never need to hear again
– that work as albums even though no one song works very well on its own
– that need to be heard start to finish
– that you’ve never heard but still can’t bring yourself to listen to
– that only work at dusk
– that sound fresh no matter how often you play them
– that only sink in after the twenty-fourth listen
– that change the way you view the world or yourself
– that complete a portrait of an artist
– that define a moment
– that capture an era
– that put you in the direct presence of a someone you knew long ago
– that can be played over and over again in succession
– that you love despite all better judgement
– that link otherwise unconnected artists or styles
– that only seem to work in one format
– you like for where you got it or how much you paid
– you dislike for where you got it or how much you paid
– that seem perfect for four listens and then lose their luster
– that illumine some facets of an artist’s career
– you love without measure – and without knowing why
– you never would have listened to if someone hadn’t made you
– you love from the very first note
– you read about but never hear
– everyone seems to like but you
– you need in every conceivable format and variation
– you never play for anyone else
– that seem to have been recorded for you and you alone
– you don’t need to hear, period
– you discover only after years of unwarranted neglect
– made on a lark
– made to fulfill a contract
– made to document an event
– made to cash in on something that wasn’t that good to begin with
– that are better than the records that inspired them
– you would have loved ten years ago
– too bleak to enjoy, no matter how well crafted or produced
– killed by their production
– that were recorded only to make a recording
– inspired by an event
– you’ll snap up as soon as they’re remastered
– you’d only buy used
– that sure sounded great at the listening station…
– that fell between the cracks in a week full of important new releases
– that need to be heard on vinyl
– that flow better when resequenced as the artist intended
– missing their title tracks (which show up later on EPs and b-sides)
– that don’t work until you’ve heard the songs live
– that sound cold and lifeless in the wake of a great live performance
– it’s okay to borrow or download since you know you’d never buy it in a million years
– you’ve been meaning to buy for years
– you’ve been searching for for years
– you keep because you might like them someday
– you keep because they might come in handy when making a mix for someone someday
– that would be great for the car
– that are only good in the car
– for another day, when you have more time
– to listen to soon, but not now
– you need to go with other albums in your collection
– that stir you deeply, even when the songs aren’t that good
– that hold your interest even if you don’t exactly enjoy them
– you routinely recommend but haven’t heard in ages
– you can’t believe you ever liked
– that bring you to tears, every time
– that demand physical movement
– you bought because they just looked good
– you bought on the basis of hearing one song, once, a long time ago
– by new bands mining tired styles
– by old bands breaking new ground
– by cocksure singers who leave their bands to pursue mediocre solo careers
– whose producers are far more talented than the artist at hand
– only purchased for the performance of one of the session players
– that would be great at half the duration
– that hold more promise wrapped than they ever could fulfill unwrapped
– that redefine your conception of what’s possible in this life