Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On the road to...My Ultimate Collection


On the road…to My Ultimate Collection

Towards the end of July, I actually began assembling what I will refer to as “My Ultimate Collection” – titles that I will have the time to listen to again before I die, titles I would like to discuss with my friends, titles that I feel are essential to who I am. I got some nice boxes with lids given to me by a former co-worker, so: The Project has Begun!

First off, the title that represents me above all others is the third LP by Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention called “We’re Only In It For The Money” (1968) (#1). I first got this LP when I was about 10 years old – 40+ years ago. I played it to death, memorized the lyrics and liner notes, and spent the next four decades finding every possible variant edition of this title. The recent “Lumpy Money” Zappa Family Trust mail-order 3CD set is excellent, too – as it is the CD debut of the mono version of this glorious title, which is a very nifty remix of the stereo version. I have chosen the Mobile Fidelity gold disc edition to represent the beginning of “My Ultimate Collection” – it’s a nicely mastered stereo copy of the slightly-less-censored version of the U.S. stereo version of this album. I’ll probably eventually add the mono promo LP to “My Ultimate Collection”, but for now – this gets us going. This title would still be my first choice, even if I decided to only have a collection of 10 or 100 or 1,000 titles. For me, this is it. It is what I learned about music made on Earth during my lifetime that I will want to immortalize. If you are not familiar with this album, I would love to send you a copy of it, so that we can discuss it in greater detail. I have approx. 17 different versions of this title – and that’s not enough, there must be a few more that I haven’t encountered.

After placing #1 into “My Ultimate Collection” box, I opened a different box of recent purchases where I had collected the Folkways / Smithsonian CD’s that I own, and spotted my somewhat obvious #2 title for “My Ultimate Collection”: John Cage and David Tudor “Indeterminacy” (1959) (#2). This title has been contiguously available ever since it’s original release in 1959, per the directive of Moses Asch of Folkways Records – eventually the lovely 2LP boxed set (with ‘libretto’) gave way to the world’s only CD edition (a 2CD!) in 1992. Always only ever a mono record / CD, I first encountered this in the early 70’s – at a Thrifty Drug Store, probably for $1.97 – I had already been reading about John Cage, but had never heard any up to that point in my young life. It wiped away the crud from my young mind – the recent 60’s, all the ‘rock music’, all the crap on TV…it made my life interesting. I can’t even begin to imagine the job of annotating this tremendous spoken word album – who are all the people he talks about? Where are the places he lived, that he went to? Illumination occurred when I found his book “Silence” (1961) in the mid-70’s, where some of the “Indeterminacy’ stories turned up in print – with even more appearing in another Cage book, “A Year From Monday” (1967). Cage’s voice is appealing and the often cacophonous noise is manipulated by David Tudor from Cage’s works “Concert for Piano and Orchestra” (1957-58) and “Fontana Mix” (1950-59). “Indeterminacy’ was for me the most impressive introduction to the avant-garde music world. After it, I listened to everything differently.

So, to start “My Ultimate Collection” – two American masters: Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993) and John Cage (1912 – 1992). My Project has begun.

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