Albums I regret buying
Have you ever rushed out to buy an album because you loved the single? There's a track on the radio, it's red-hot, and you figure there's more goodness where that came from. So you hot-foot it to town and hurry home with the tape or LP or CD and...and...giant letdown!
Was that ever familiar to you?
I say was because, well, that's now a rookie mistake that should never happen; the internet has corrected that for us. We have YouTube and Spotify and all manner of ways to try before we buy. We have a friend's iPod to borrow, far too many reviewers and bloggers out and about and eager to prove their point - now able to link to things too. So, really, there's just no way this should happen today. But it certainly used to happen.
And if you were (and maybe still are?) an impulse buyer then it definitely would have happened to you.
TimBrown put this suggestion forward last week - alongside the headline of "Albums I regret buying" he added "you heard the single, you bought the album. The album is complete pants. Ever done this? What was the album? Why?"
I'm racking my brain here and I'm not sure that - technically - I ever did this.
Well, not in that way.
You see I'd do this - almost on purpose - when bargain hunting. I was a big fan of the $1 bin at Real Groovy back in the day. Sometimes I'd stretch to the $2 bin or those other colour-coded stickers that offered discs at $4, $6, $8, $10 and $12.
I bought a lot of $1 and $2 CDs in the late 1990s/early 2000s when I was building a huge CD collection. I'd get hold of things "for reference". YouTube, Spotify and all those other sites - as well as borrowing CDs from the library - made this practice redundant. And for me personally the lack of space in the house was a deterrent against the practice. Add to that, now, a 20-month-old son, the tiny, strutting overlord of the house, I'm pretty keen to not have too many CDs about the place.
But back when I was flatting in the old Island Bay Post Office - a huge CD rack the main feature of the lounge - I bought a lot of duds. Almost always on purpose. A CD for $1 meant you could justify buying a rubbish album for that one good song you liked. Or because you needed to hear the side-project, or because a favourite producer was working in what seemed like a slightly different field. Or to learn a song for a band...
I bought Rocket by Primitive Radio Gods for $1 all because of that song Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand. I loved that song, mostly for the B.B. King sample. And so I bought the album. I was a believer - then - that it was good to own the album. You should understand the song in the context of its parent-album, you should give the other songs a chance, get to know the band's songs and moods and feel. No such thing as just a one-hit-wonder - well, of course there is, but I was always keen to see behind the one-hit; to hope for more.
Not much more on that Primitive Radio Gods album - actually managed to trade it in for the Cable Guy soundtrack which features the Phone Booth tune and has a few other good songs (Filter's Hey Man, Nice Shot).
It was around this time I made the move - more often than not - toward compilations and movie soundtracks; the better option in most cases.
Of course I learned a lot about crappy music with my $1 purchases - a good skill for my life as a music reviewer (a life I was just starting at the time).
But I don't think I ever really rushed out and bought an album because of the single and then was disappointed with the rest of the album.
Probably because - mostly - I've not been a singles kind of guy; I was always an album-man, an album fan. I'd get to know bands before I bought, or I was buying on the strength of past work and - for the most part - that worked out OK. That's changed in recent times of course - internet, iPods, playlists, shuffle, the alleged "death of the album" and so on...
But I do recall wanting an album that I'd later find out was a dud.
I was so sure I wanted the album Moseley Shoals by Ocean Colour Scene (the band's second record).
Ocean Colour Scene had this infectious ditty, The Riverboat Song - which sorta sounded exactly like if Paul Weller stole Led Zeppelin's Four Sticks and tried to sing it in the style of a Steve Winwood/Traffic/Spencer Davis song purely to scab in on the Britpop phenomenon of the time.
And, at that time it worked and I was convinced the band would be brilliant, the album would be great...
But I just never made that impulse buy.
A friend at the time was going to buy it for me - she didn't. The store was out of stock or something. She bought me something else equally of its time (Ronny Jordan). So I took that as the cue to do something I didn't always do: I found a store that had a copy of Moseley Shoals and checked it out on the shop's listening post. It was rubbish. I saved my money.
Gosh, in dredging up that memory I realise that in fact, a couple of years before this, as a fan of the drummer from the band Spin Doctors I bought the band's truly horrific Turn It Upside Down album. And all because I liked the song Cleopatra's Cat. And I liked that because - I swear - I liked the drummer. And I owned the band's other albums. But there was no excuse for rushing out to buy Turn It Upside Down. It was awful. Still, that didn't stop me from also buying You've Got to Believe in Something when it was released a couple of years later. That was really pushing it.
Now I should be embarrassed about this - but I've confessed to this story before (about this time last year in fact). As someone said in the comments beneath that post, the really shocking confession of my Spin Doctors own-up was in admitting not just that I bought an album because of one song once. But in fact I kept buying the band's albums - I even sprang for a greatest hits comp.
They're all gone now. There isn't a trace of Spin Doctors in our house.
I think that qualifies for this post. Certainly.
It's harder to imagine that happening these days though. I love the new Daft Punk album but I get the feeling that if you only liked the single Get Lucky and rushed out to buy the album, without previewing it online, simply to hear more of that, then you would not be getting very lucky. I like the album as a whole and heard it that way. I keep listening to it that way too. I was never looking for Get Lucky parts two and three and four...
So, I've killed enough time for today. It's your turn to own up. What albums do you regret buying? What albums did you buy - possibly back in the day - because you heard one hip single? And anyone been burnt recently? Anyone buy Daft Punk or the new David Bowie because of the singles and end up feeling ripped off? Or any other recent examples? The new Kanye West perhaps?
Postscript: You'll remember that last week I asked you to pick the headlines for my deadlines. With that in mind, yesterday's blog was called With Dignity: When to call it a day, Wednesday's will be A Showdown: 1984, Thursday's will be The Majesty of The Muppets and Friday's will be called The Gift.
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.