Thursday, May 08, 2014

Complete album collections

From The Byrds and Cheap Trick to Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, many older artists and bands are releasing their entire album output in one go in CD box sets. This is an easy and relatively cheap way to acquire all an artist's music in one fell swoop. But to me there's only one word for it: cheating.

In the case of the Bob Dylan complete album collection, you get all 42 studio and live albums (as well a deluxe 268-page book). I own all of them, of course, but it took me about twenty years to amass them. Some were taped off friends to start with, then bought second hand in car boot sales or record shops. I didn't get into Dylan until the early 90s, so I didn't start buying new Dylan albums on their release until Good As I Been to you (1992) and World Gone Wrong (1993), two albums of cover versions, at which stage I assumed his career was stagnant and songwriting days were over.

Anyway. It's like with the internet. Everything is at your fingertips. Everything is too easy. I used to travel miles to some obscure repertory cinema to see some obscure Armenian film. Now it'll be a click away. I like that I had to make the effort, I like that it took me twenty years to buy forty albums. It's a learning thing, a slow thing, making an effort, hunting things down. Hunting it down on Google just ain't the same.

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