I had the 2005 version of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die – I’d owned it for years and had a flip through the pages, but never really studied it. And then someone asked me how many of the albums I had heard – was it half? Was it all? I figured the number was somewhere right in-between those ratios. And I wasn’t far off. I started ticking the pages with a pencil to see which ones I’d listened to – and figured it was somewhere between 700-800.
Well, I’ve just completed that challenge. It was 145 albums in total. I had thought it would be around 200.
My thanks must go to Spotify of course. And YouTube. And Wellington Public Library.
Like all writing challenges I start (The Vinyl Countdown) it’s really only for me…but if anyone else gets a tip from it of an album to try or likes some of the writing or where it takes them that’s a great bonus.
This challenge wasn’t about the writing. It was about the listening. And sharing some thoughts on lost classics or obvious gems that I had never heard.
Simply diary-type entries.
It was interesting to me to see how the challenge fired then waned. Then (sometimes) fired again.
The 1960s was good too – mostly about the garage bands and psych and prog things that I knew of but hadn’t delved into. Also you had big name bands that might have been anthologised in my collection only. Same with the 1970s. Bands like ABBA and the Carpenters. You think all you need is a greatest hits. But when you finally get to the original album you find a great flow about it even if you know all of the material or a good 50-80% of it.
In the 1980s (and late 70s) I swept up a lot of the punk and post-punk that I had never quite got to. Some new romantic gems too. But the hardcore material didn’t much interest me.
There weren’t as many stinkers as I anticipated. But it did start to grind on.
I first posted about this challenge – and started it – in August of 2017. I posted something every week from there through until April of 2019.
Sometimes I’d play the album once. That was it. Sometimes I’d listen to it a heap.
There were albums from the 2000s that I had probably consciously avoided. So listening through to those was often a chore.
But for the most part I found a whole lot of great music I had – for various reasons – missed.
I did this while listening to new stuff and old favourites. So it was by no means an all-consuming project. Hence taking my time to get it down.
But with every post in the challenge I offered a Spotify playlist. A chance for any reader/s to get on board with trying the music straight away.
Amazing times we live in – I realise now if I had started this challenge when I first got this book several of the albums would simply be marked ‘unavailable’; lost (at that moment) to time. They’re found again now for anyone that wants them.
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