From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Tom Fine on listening taste, repertoire, etc.; quote:
> Did I mention how much I don't like chronological-discography compilations?
> This substitutes the
> taste and intents of the artist and producer(s) for some sort of academic
> study of a body of work.
> Boring! Bad enough to waste listening time with rejected takes and false
> starts, but also to destroy
> album continuity and vibe, for the sake of what? I never understood this
> sort of compilation, going
> back to multi-LP collections of the 70's and 80's.
As quite a young person I made the philosophical decision that I never wanted
to be complete in anything that related to an oeuvre. I decided that I never
wanted to have read everything an author had written (I suppose I meant non-
academic stuff). It came after I had read at about 15 the complete Sherlock
Holmes Mysteries, a compilation of everything Arthur Conan Doyle had written
on his famous detective. I had read a lot of the short stories already,
several times, but here they were collected in toto. When I had devoured all
the volumes I had a feeling of emptiness; there would never ever be a chance
of reading virgin text about Sherlock Holmes, the thrill of discovering
something new here was gone forever.
This spilled over into music; classical at first. I deliberately kept a few
Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms quartets away from myself, because I wanted to
reserve some excitement of hearing composers I knew exceedingly well in as
yet unheard material.
The same went for collecting: I did have the view with me from the start, but
it was reinforced when I went through 'the Gramophone (London)' cover-to-
cover in the late 1970s. I found an article by John Freestone, a great
collector and discographer, written after a hiatus of a few years. He
mentioned that in the intervening period (1954-57?) he had completed his
collections of (these names may be wrong) Caruso, Patti and Tamagno; I think
he also had some test pressings. I thought "what a bore, now his collection
is relegated to be a reference collection". But, having since digged much
deeper, even professionally, into collecting and collections, I would venture
to say that there is no-one who can really be complete; there will always be
someone with an out-take, a clandestine recording, the test pressing that was
not shattered after all. And if you have all the repertoire, you switch to
formats: who in their right mind needs a 78 rpm of the Beatles, unless it is
from a different master tape? Quite possibly the drive to completeness simply
switches to neighboring areas because of the emptiness. Label variants, cover
variants, inner sleeve variants, you name it. Irrespective, the thrill of
finding something that you had never seen before remains.
The situation is different, of course, in academia and in the legal world. I
move on the brink of both. Here you are frequently able to specify completely
what you are missing and you can search for it in a targeted way. Your job is
not done until you are complete. And if you see something as yet unseen you
can almost instantly put it into its right context; it may be very valuable
to you but the rest of the world would be indifferent.
So, I completely understand Tom's sentiments and indeed his wish to re-create
albums he cannot lay his hand on physically. But someone must also cater for
those who need a reference collection. But perhaps it is the other way
P.S. do read Tom's reply to Mike Biel's comment: masterly; the artist wants
to be known for his accepted output, or so you would think. Stockhausen did
not have any such standards: he joined IASA in order that the international
archiving community could take responsibility for his "artistic" output. No
initiatives were taken and he dropped out again. And the Adorno-adherents are
so infatuated that they have not only published his rambling scribblings and
drafts, but they have also been translated from German into English. Instead
of an index, to provide these books with a semblance of usefulness, they have
a rambling sequential listing of content, which has been translated verbatim
into English. I have had to make my own structuring of this listing into an
index with a newline for each entry in order to see through the whole
charade. That is sacrilege, no doubt!