The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Collecting vs. sampling an artist

3-10-09 Collecting vs. sampling an artist. How do you resist the all-or-nothing urge?

When I was younger, it was simply a case of buying a few singles by an artist that had good ‘A sides’. In the CD era, I could usually wait until I found an inexpensive ‘best of’…and hope that it had the songs I wanted.

Before becoming convinced about an artist, I might even try to make sampler LP’s or CD’s make do. A good example would be for the Swiss group Yello. For ages, my Yello collection consisted of the “Nuns On The Run” original soundtrack CD. It virtually doubled as a “Yello’s Greatest Hits”! But the video age helped me along; I saw the video for “Goldrush” on MuchMusic, and knew I wanted to hear more. Next step: try a few 12” singles. Oops. Then I found a European pressing of one of their first two albums…then the scales tipped, and I wanted everything I could find by Yello. So, it took a while.

Sometimes I investigate artists when I am trying to make a compilation of a genre that’s new to me (or one I haven’t already flogged to death). A good example would be the current set of stuff I’m working on: Motown Records 50th Anniversary. I do not collect a lot of R&B LP’s or 45’s or CD’s – but I do enjoy a good compilation, by theme. I have a hit ‘n’ miss Motown collection, and I find that the recent Universal US “20th Century Masters” CD’s sometimes really take care of whatever it is that I felt like I didn’t have enough of – The Marvelettes, for example.

A lot of my collecting has been while thoroughly immersed in a scene / genre, such NZ artists. I would get whatever I could find. The “NZ bug” was essentially replaced with a “Japanese bug” (of roughly ’94 – ’00). While doing those genres, it was easy to resist going full-bore into “new artists” (to me). A single or a track on a sampler would sometimes suffice.

Another that limits ‘going whole hog’ is availability. Can’t really get going on an artist with a considerable catalogue if there’s nothing / not much available locally (like mainstream Australian artists, The Whitlams, anyone?) I would’ve bought a ton of it when I was hot on them, but – having to mail-order everything from Australia gets expensive in a hurry.

I still haven’t found the ‘08 A Certain Ratio CD, “Mind Made Up”. I only just got the ’08 Grace Jones “Hurricane” CD. Neither of these are readily available, in Los Angeles anyway.

By the way, I am checking my recent re-issue CD’s to see if I have any other SACDs lurking in my collection. So far, I have found a few “DSD Mastering” CD’s (notably Mute Beat “14 Echoes + 1, 20th Anniversary Edition”).


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

I'm such a collection oriented person that if an artist isn't good enough to collect, I have little impetus to sample them selectively. Sometime there are artists where whole swaths of their career are great to me with other swaths being not interesting.

For ABC gimme 81-87, 97+. Anything in-between I'm okay with not having. Likewise Grace Jones first 3 album periods? Indifferentsville. Albums 4-7? GIMME! Albums 8-9? Who cares. By the way, I'm shocked that Hurricane is hard to get in Los Angeles!!!! It has been talked up notably as a return to form. Jim Kerr picked it has his best of 2008. Well... HOW IS IT?!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

There are plenty of artists for which a solid hits collection is more than sufficient.

My whole hog collecting days are over. There are a handful of artists that I've maintained deep collections of, but they're either no longer recording or their output is just confined to their regular LPs. Garbage and Keane, a couple of newer bands that I enjoy, have b-sides galore, but I no longer have the resources to aggressively acquire every last track. Gone are the days of easily obtained import CD singles in Orlando. And remember the days of domestic CD singles with ALL the b-sides and more?? Ha...

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...


I've got news for you. The days of easily obtainable import CD singles ANYWHERE disappeared with Tower Records and the Virgin Megastores. I can't remember how long it's been (or where it was) since I have bought an import CD single new. I remember now! It was the Cry #1 & #2 singles by Simple Minds in 2002 at Tower DC. Charles was with me as I recall.

I have gotten nice things cheap from Fun Records and the occasional item on the internet when needed. Just yesterday I got the last Frazier Chorus CD single I needed (Driving USP) for the upcoming canonical BSOG, Elaine (Oops! Cat's out of the bag now!).

10:52 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

The Grace Jones "Hurricane" CD is wonderful. It's as though her two EMI albums never existed. Seems like a follow-up to "Slave To The Rhythm". yes, Sly & Robbie, Barry Reynolds, Wally Badarou - the winning combo is present.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...


I'd heard the Compass Point All Stars were back. I'm there!

5:07 AM  

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