My First Time. 12 ROUNDS Promo CD. (Nothing/Interscope Records 199?) (1998)

Discovering the 12 Rounds CD in my collection was like the feeling you get when you find a super long hair growing out of your neck. You are a bit disgusted, but also intrigued as to how it survived for so long without you noticing.

How did 12 Rounds end up snuggled in right next to 4 Non Blondes? I am guessing it somehow escaped a purge I did a few years ago in which hundreds of promotional CD’s were led one by one to the trash bin outside my house. You see, at one point in my career as a music journalist in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I was getting at least one or two promo CD’s a day, mostly of pure crap from major labels that were seemly never ending poop factories. I had a floor to ceiling stack of unopened CDs next to my desk I lovingly christened “The Leaning Tower of Interscope and Hollywood Records”.

I could never figure out how I ended up on these publicity lists, but will say it wasn’t a cost-effective decision for the major labels to make (imagine that). Somehow they deduced from blurbs I wrote about Club Sucker, The Need, Patsy, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Team Dresch, K Records, Chainsaw Records and Kill Rock Stars, that I might be a good person to hit up to do a review of their freshly signed all male, mainstream “alt-grunge-hybrid-trip-hop-ska-electronica rock” band.

I must have gotten every new “next Nirvana” band there was to get.  They all had names like Dustmite, Blind Baby, Hang or Chloe’s Needle Problem. The names of course hinted at the festering angst, scars, dirt and poetry radiating from the souls of the goateed pretty boys clad in winter wear, whose sulking oozed from their PR photos like puncture wounds.  Anyway, all this crap crowded my library of CDs for a long time until a few years ago when it dawned on me that I would never unwrap and listen to that T-Ride promo CD and started chucking the shit.

Okay, on to 12 Rounds. I will admit this errant refugee from the first purge of promo CD’s evoked a bit of emotion. Even as something never before heard, due to its sheer will to remain in my collection, 12 Rounds is responsible for making me think about the moment in time just before the tidal wave of promo CD’s began to flood my doorstep. It was a moment in my history when music journalism felt new, pure, artful, creative and inspired. I remembered the first time my writing was included in a publication that boasted a circulation more than ten. It was a paragraph highlighting an upcoming show at The Roxy in the LA Weekly, a paper I lived and died by as a citizen of Los Angeles. Oh that electrifying moment when I picked up the issue that contained my first piece–an adjective laden blurb about a local band I loved.  Hundreds of blurbs were to follow over the next seven years, but nothing will ever beat the rush I felt that first week every time I passed a pile of the LA Weekly in a restaurant or local club and thought about my words making it into the hands of one-hundred thousand readers.

A few days ago, I did actually listen to the 12 Rounds CD. First, I was surprised to pop it in and discover they are a female fronted band (there was no picture on the sleeve). This album is not a bad album in any way–somewhat typical sounding “trip-hop” 90’s stuff, but in the end, it fell flat for me. So after one play, knowing I would never listen to it again, this 12 Rounds compact disc has made the march to my garbage can. But unlike the promo CD’s before, I shed a tiny tear as the lid closed on this one.

The ones that survived. Bonus points to anyone who can name the CD’s pictured.

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My Life in Binders.

My identity is slowly being erased from the physical landscape of my house. I am taking my CD’s off of the shelves that line the walls of our dining area and putting them in plastic inserts to be stored in three-ring binders. Now, a new visitor to our home will walk in and have no idea that I am a music person. The alters constructed to display the essential, beautiful and overwhelming force that music is in my life, will be packed away and out of sight.

The last time I remember doing this was with my vinyl collection, and it was to make room for my CD’s. My music library has followed me around over the past twenty-five years, making each new move a bit more daunting because of the constant growth of my collection. But no matter where I landed, it was always placed out on display like artwork.

In the digital age, “things” like CD’s and records seem obsolete and unnecessary. But my feeling is that despite all the la-de-da bumper stickers and inspirational calendar pages telling us in cute little quotes how “things” are not what are important in life, I think things are immensely important. Things are what we use to speak to one another, how we know if someone is in our tribe. Things are the symbols we assemble to let people know what the hell is going on inside our heads. The first move I make when I visit a person for the first time, is towards towards their CD collection and bookshelves. Dogs sniff asses, I sniff music and book collections. If the smell intrigues me, you’re in.

So my current heartbreak comes in that it is time to put these artifacts of my life, my music collection, out of sight. Of course this does make more room for bookshelves.

Now, to what this blog is all about. In the process of going through all my CD’s, some for the first time in ten years, I have had the honor of cradling each one in my hand for a moment as I slip them into their new homes. This has brought back lots of memories of times past. It is amazing how music, or even just an album cover can bring you right back to a particular time in your life. And there have been many surprises as well, such as where did this Blues Traveler CD come from and why do I have so many Indigo Girls albums?

With all this emotional attachment whirling around, I have decided that I am going to “review” each and every CD in my collection, so the artifacts of my life are still on display somewhere, even if just in the virtual world. Here we go…