So I'm still working my way through the epic CD-ripping effort that began when I bought this sweet new Macbook back in March. (I was down for about a month there while I sat around lazily not getting the optical drive fixed after it crapped out.) I haven't bothered to pay too close attention to the sheer numbers, but I've easily passed the 1,000 threshold, with the end just maybe kinda in sight, somewhere ...
What's surprising is how few CDs I've elected not to digitize. It's been at least seven or eight years since I went through any sort of large scale purge and tried unloading lackluster albums at used CD stores around town. But the remaining ones are keepers, by and large. And even the duds are keepers in their own charming little ways, ways that don't have much to do with the actual music.
Holding (certainly not proud) positions in my collection, to this day, are R.E.M.'s Monster and the first Hootie & The Blowfish album, which are almost certainly the two most unwanted multi-platinum records of all time, proving that despite the tremendous highlights 1994 had musically (Ill Communication, Mellow Gold, Roman Candle, Grace, Cash's first Rick Rubin collaboration, The Downward Spiral, Crooked Rain X2, Dummy, Ruby Vroom, Wildflowers, Weezer) the year was not immune from top-selling duds. I may be a bit generous in saying so, but neither record outright sucks. Monster has at least one great song, and Hootie was certainly far more harmless than much of the shit that would become chart-toppers just a few years later.
Aside from the no-way-in-hell-I-could-actually-get-rid-of-'em-so-I-might-as-well-just-toss-'em- in-the-pile albums, there are a few duds worth keeping for other ludicrous and deeply personal reasons.
Meat Loaf's craptacular Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell leads this category for me. I don't ever want to hear any of that overwrought, dramatic schlock again, but check this out: On numerous occasions, I've used the album for, I 'spose I ought to say, rather devilish pranks.
It's really quite simple: If you happen to wake up earlier than other people at your house, particularly on a weekend or the morning after you've hosted a party, just throw on the album, track one, really damn loud. The 12-minute version of "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," with its glorious motorcycle-revving opening, is sure to wake up every roommate and guest you have.
At first they'll wonder why there's a Harley rally just outside the door. Then they'll figure out that the noise is actually coming from the stereo. Then they'll wonder why you're angry at them. Seriously, the damn thing just seems to be endless. All the while you're chuckling away, gleeful to be in full control of such an upsetting noise, gleeful to rouse people from sleep in the strangest possible manner and just generally gleeful to have put one over on peacefully sleeping friends.
Then there's the Pure Disco compilation that was key to four 70s Parties I threw... And Slippery When Wet, a CD purchased on a nostalgic whim because it was the first tape I bought for myself and listened to endlessly as an 8-years-old... And that Paul Westerberg album I really liked just before I picked up my first Replacements record and really had my eyes opened... And the first two MTV Party To Go compilations that I just ate up in seventh and eighth grades...
Everything I've thrown on the hard drive has something going for it, and otherwise bad music that sets me on a path right back to some long-gone age contains a pleasure all its own.
So to everyone who's felt even a bare-bones tinge of denim-jacket toughness at hearing "Chino danced a tango with a broomstick in his hand" two decades out of context... rock on. Don't purge what might well be an embarrassing and misguided part of your past if it still feels good on some level.
Bon Jovi - Let It Rock
Meat Loaf - I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
R.E.M. - What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
P.M. Dawn - Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Paul Westerberg - Love Untold