Thursday, 5 April 2007

A musical milestone

I reached a significant milestone two weeks ago which I feel deserves a mention - I purchased my 1000th CD*.

Yes, you saw that * next to CD. That's because I have some very specific rules about what I define as a CD - it's not always the physical disc that I'm counting.

A CD could be one of the following:
  • Album (LP using the old-skool terminology)
  • EP (Bigger than a single but smaller than an LP)
  • Single
  • Soundtrack
  • Live recording
  • Compilation (Same artist or various artists)
  • Miscellaneous release (e.g. interview disc)
Now for some of my rules:
  • Double albums on CD (e.g. The Beatles, Being there) are counted as a single CD in my statistics. This is because they are sold and marketed as a single release.
  • Sometimes artists released 2-for-1 CDs -- i.e. 2 albums on the 1 disc. Some examples of this are Big Star #1 record / Radio city, Pixies Surfer rosa / Come on pilgrim and several Beach Boys releases. These are counted as 2 CDs, because when originally released they were separate; it's only the record company who have decided to release them together on the same disc. They are listened to and reviewed as separate releases.
  • If a CD comes with a bonus disc, it is not counted as a CD. Some examples of this are Live Four songs (which was bundled with my version of Throwing copper), and the Guided By Voices Tigerbomb EP (which was bundled with my version of Under the bushes under the stars). This is because although the CD often has a sticker on it such as "Buy me now! I come with a bonus disc!", they are generally not releases which have been previously marketed separately; they are a bonus and deserve to be treated that way.

Since this is a significant milestone, I thought I would unload some interesting (well, to me anyway) stats about my CD collection.

My century milestones (nth CD):
  • 100: Portishead - Portishead
  • 200: Elvis Costello - Imperial bedroom
  • 300: Sting - Fields of gold
  • 400: Weezer - Pinkerton
  • 500: Nirvana - Nevermind
  • 600: David Bowie - Scary monsters
  • 700: Spiritualized - Lazer guided melodies
  • 800: The Replacements - Let it be
  • 900: Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
  • 1000: Tom Petty - Greatest hits
Note that these numbers are valid as of this moment. If I ever end up selling an old CD on eBay, it would cause a shift in the numbers (and I have done this in the past).

This is my breakdown of the 1000 CDs into my categories:
  • Albums (LP) - 872
  • Albums (Live) - 18
  • Compilations (Same artist) - 64
  • Compilations (Various artists) - 4
  • EPs - 11
  • Singles - 4
  • Soundtracks - 20
  • Miscellaneous - 7
Musical phases

Now for an analysis of my purchasing history, with regard to phases that I went through. The numbers in square brackets indicate where the first and last CD purchased by the artist fit into my purchasing order, and the years that the phase covered.

Billy Joel [8-73, late 80's to early 90's]

I'm not ashamed to admit that the first artist I really got into was Billy Joel (first CD of his was purchase 8, last CD was purchase 73). Not sure about exact dates of purchases as this was before my proper record-keeping, but it was in my early to mid teens when I was into his music in a big way. Most people associate him with soppy AM radio hits like Just the way you are, but he does have more musical depth than that. Even though I don't listen to him much thesedays, he was the first artist I truly admired, and the first artist who I made my mission to collect their entire discography. I even went to great lengths to do this, purchasing his greatest hits boxset when I already had all of the songs on it (except the few standard ones tacked on by the record company to sell more copies). He was a great influence in my appreciation of music.

The Beatles [54-220, 1997-1999]

My second great musical love, and one that still carries on to this day (even if the power of their music has somewhat diminished due to overplay and familiarity). I had always known Beatles music (how can you not?), but there were a few events which made me get into them in a huge way. Firstly, there was the Anthology series on TV which tickled my interest. Secondly, I received Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from my uncle as a birthday present. Thirdly, there was the now infamous (well, to me and a few friends anyway) Beatles night in which Pete, Brett and myself got drunk over a slab of Melbourne Bitter (and later Kahlua and Southern Comfort) and listened through [almost] the entire Beatles catalogue from start to finish. I say almost because by the time we got to the White Album and Abbey Road we were too physically drunk to listen to much more.

Anyway, Beatles were a huge influence on my love of music to this date. Just because you know a lot of Beatles hits doesn't mean you really know the Beatles -- you really need to listen to their albums so you can hear the lesser-known gems. I envy those who have not explored the music of the Beatles yet, because there is still a chance for you to experience that great feeling of discovering one of the great bands of all time.

Elvis Costello [187-678, 1999-2004]

It took me a while to warm to Elvis Costello, but there was a phase where I was purchasing his albums like they were going to go out of print. I went through a huge phase of listening to his music at the turn of millenium, and I still regard him as one of my favourite artists of all time. I have seem him live twice, with the 2nd gig at the Palais (in November 2004) being one of the best gigs I have ever been to (3rd row seats and all).

Over time, I have certainly come to appreciate some of his albums over others, and I'm at the point now with his music where I'll give a few select albums a spin rather than his whole back catalogue. Some of my personal favourites are This year's model (1978), Trust (1981), King of America (1986), All this useless beauty (1996) and The delivery man (2004).

Bob Dylan [62-961, 1997-2006]

Bob Dylan is probably the artist here with the widest gap between the first and last albums I have purchased by him. Saying that the man is an acquired taste is a huge understatement. I'm a big Bob Dylan fan but even I have to be in the mood to listen to him. But if you have an open mind musically, and you can get past his voice (personally, I'm at the point where I love his voice) then there's a huge back catalogue to immerse yourself in this man's genius.

My first Bob Dylan purchase was Highway 61 revisited, which I bought in New Zealand in late 1997. I can even picture the shop I bought it in; funny how you remember these things. Since then I have slowly acquired most of his essential albums (a sale at JB where they were selling some of his albums for $6.99 kicked this along a lot), and his 1966 release Blonde on blonde has recently become my favourite album of all time.

Tom Waits [251-972, 2000-2006]

Everyone has heard of Bob Dylan, but I'm willing to bet that there are people out there who haven't heard of Tom Waits. This is criminal; this man is a musical genius and deserves to be heard and loved by as many people as possible. Be prepared to work hard to appreciate the music of Tom Waits; with the exception of his first two albums, his music is about as far from radio-friendly as you can get.

My first Tom Waits purchase was Mule variations from 1999. While I enjoyed some of the ballads on it, I just couldn't get past that voice. And the rockier bluesier songs just put me off the album. I purchased his 1985 album Rain dogs shortly afterwards, and I still couldn't get past that voice, even though the music intrigued me a bit more on the album. I decided to give him another go, and decided to go for one of his earlier jazzy albums -- so I picked up Small change from 1976. This album was a bit more "normal" musically, and thus more accessible. It wasn't until I bought The heart of Saturday night from 1974 that I realised that the man started out with a normal singing voice.

To cut a long story short, I eventually got past the voice, and started to appreciate his music. I have all of his albums now (except for Black rider, which I will eventually get) and I do not hesitate to say that this man is a freakin' genius. I will also proudly say that the man has one of the greatest voices I have ever heard. He can express more emotion in one syllable than many vocalists can in an entire album. And don't even get me started on his music. He is probably my favourite solo artist of all time now.

An absolute legend, and unfortunately he'll probably have to die before he gets more widely recognised.

In conclusion

There have been lots of other phases, but they are the artists with big enough back catalogues to justify talking about.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a short post. I always end up rambling...

Thanks for reading!


  1. Congratulations - a stellar effort. I don't mean from the purchasing perspective, the fact that you have obviously maintained meticulous records is impressive - I love it as I am an organisational freak.

  2. Yes, well done, although I'm amused that your milestone CD is a greatest hits!! :)

  3. Hang on, what about your infamous Spice Girls phase in late-1997?!

  4. Congrats Jiggy, that's a mighty milestone. :)

  5. 1000!!?! Outstanding! You must have a mighty impressive Excel spreadsheet to track all that.

  6. Thanks for all the congrats guys...

    Pete, I can't believe I forgot to mention the Spice Girls phase! Ahh well, I'll have to write a new article just to cover that glaring omission ;-)

    And Pat, I have many Excel spreadsheets to track it all...


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