To hear again for the first time

20:12, Jun 13 2013

It's been suggested before, a potential blog-topic: Which album do you wish you could listen to again for the first time? Someone mentioned it - again (for the first time) - yesterday. So I took that as the cue.

And it's a great question - and a hard one to answer. Sometimes I take an album and explore it here at Blog on the Tracks - talk about my introduction to it, my love for it and I figure it's always implied that this is the sort of album I'd like to hear again for the first time. Something like B.B. King's Cook County Jail album, for example.

So today I'm going to pick five albums. Doesn't mean they're the five best albums in the world, or even my five favourites - just five albums I wish I could hear again for the first time. And then you can do the same.

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme: Well, I've already posted at length about this album - but it's one I return to, almost weekly. It's had a profound influence on my life, on my listening - introduced me to so many great players and other albums and made me fall in love with the music of John Coltrane. My brother used to return home from university for holidays. I was still at high school. And every trip back he'd bring a few new CDs - this was one of them. I still remember sitting in his room hearing this. And that siren-call that starts the record, wow. That was just it. Oh man. I was instantly hooked. It was jazz, sure, and I knew that - but it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. And it still blows me away. Every time. I also loved those bonding moments, me and my brother with a collective goal - both hooked on the music.

Faith No More, Angel Dust: Almost on a whim I decided to travel to Wellington to see Faith No More on the tour for this album. I didn't know this record. I knew their previous albums - well, I knew The Real Thing and the song We Care a Lot. And on the car ride down from Hawke's Bay we stopped and I bought Angel Dust. (From that revolting mall up at Kapiti Coast.) Just a very quick listen, then off to the gig. It was astonishing how good they were on that night in the Town Hall (Wellington's best music venue). So hearing this album - listening to it properly the next day - will always be tied to that gig. It's one of my all-time favourite records. And I listed it as one of the 10 important metal albums in my life. We played it on the car ride back and stopped in Woodville to order some food. I ordered some hot chips and a drink then took a seat. My mate Sam came over with his food and a confused look on his face, "I think I just got told off," he said. "I asked for some chips and the woman behind the counter said 'no, your friend just ordered some, so when his come you can have some of those'." I think about that - Woodville's idea of driving its economy being something of a Sunday-drive at best - every time I play this album.

Everything But the Girl, Acoustic: I played this album the other day - for the first time in quite a while. Gorgeous. I arrived to this record pretty late, actually. In fact it was Everything But the Girl's entry to the Back to Mine series (brilliant) which made me give the band a second chance. You see, my first stint in music retail coincided with the band's super-popular Walking Wounded album and I just couldn't take it; the album was played endlessly and it was a bad introduction. I was convinced, for the longest time, that there was nothing for me to hear from the band Everything But the Girl. But then the Back to Mine album showed them to be a band of very good taste and I heard some of Ben Watt's material outside and away from the group (liked that) and knew Tracey Thorn's voice from Massive Attack (and liked that). Someone, and I can't remember who, suggested I give this album Acoustic a go. So pleased I did. It coincided with my second stint in music retail and so I played it over and over, never got sick of it - some lovely covers as well as a few originals. And from there I got hooked on the back-catalogue even conquering my near-fear of Walking Wounded. They're a band I'm still discovering - and Acoustic is always the point of entry, always the reminder. I'd like to hear this again for the first time - and if I had my way it would have been much sooner. Before Missing, before Walking Wounded, before anything else.

Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True: I've just bought the LP, just this week. I haven't played it yet (this record I mean, I've had the CD for years) but just looking at it makes me think about how it would be great to hear this for the very first time again. He wrote better songs on other albums - and as far as I'm concerned he's still worth checking in with - but this is such a great debut record. And still one of his best in terms of a complete album, an immaculate set of songs, dazzling, precocious, exciting. Of course Everything But the Girl covers Alison on their Acoustic album I mentioned above. And when I played Acoustic the other night I had just bought My Aim Is True, I remember staring at the cover of this album while EBTG's version of Alison was playing. I was thinking of following it up with the original. Right, I'm off to play my newly acquired vinyl copy of this right now. Well, soon as I finish this post...

Tom Waits, Blue Valentine: I come and go with Tom Waits these days. But this album was a whole new thing for me, and still the sentimental favourite. I love it. And I remember hearing it at a friend's flat, I knew the name Tom Waits but hadn't heard any of his music. This lit the fuse. I was straight off to buy it the next day. And from there everything else - unfortunately, after a long time listening to Waits you know exactly how everything will sound. This album was such a surprise that first time. And that's what I'd go back for. I remember playing this - often - when I worked in Tandys in Manners Mall, late nights. A woman took my sales pitch - a newexpert on all things Tom Waits, you see - and she bought the album. She returned it the next day, "my husband is a musician and he had never heard of this Tom Waits character". Two things flashed through my head as I silently completed the sales-return: what sort of musician was her husband? And presumably they were visiting the city. What would they be listening to on the car-trip back to Hawke's Bay? (I should have recommended Angel Dust.)

So there you have it. Five albums I wish I could hear for the first time again. What would you pick and why?

Blog on the Tracks is on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.