The Tartan army and I got the last Eurostar out of London to Brussels late yesterday (Scotland are playing Belgium tomorrow). My latest records management job involves me staying in Brussels during the week. I am renting a flat from J, a friend of a friend, who is leaving Belgium after a decade here.
J wanted to rent the flat to someone who was happy for him to leave his records collection, tape collection, records player, tape player, book collection and all his other stuff here.
The LP collection has pretty much all of The Fall, all of Robyn Hitchcock, most of Robert Wyatt, lots of Julian Cope, all of the The Smiths. The odd treasure - a double LP called 'Communication' with live recordings of bands that played at a Thames Poly in 1985 including The June Brides, A Witness, the Nightingales and Sonic Youth.
There are a load of cassettes in the kitchen. J offered to move them if they were in the way. I said no. leave them, even though they occupy prime shelf space. An eclectic mix - Bootlegs (The Smiths playing GLC 10-6-1984), Billy Bragg at the beeb, Velvet Undrground, Lou Reed, Television etc. Some more obscure - Ivor Cutler, This Mortal Coil. Mix tapes J made up in the 80s.
We have a handover period of a week and a half before J emigrates. I've been chatting to him about the book collection and the music collection.
I said to J that I could tell he was a collector/hoarder (I am one too), because he has an A-Z of Birmingham on the shelves (he has never mentioned knowing anyone, or doing anything in that city). In the kitchen there are two cassette copies of Bend Sinister by The Fall (they are both on the above photo but you will have to look hard to spot them). He also has an LP of Bend Sinister in the living room.
Some interesting books - Iain Sinclair, Borges, JG Ballard, Saul Bellow, Pilip K.Dick, WG Sebald. Local history books about London, Brussels and other places in Belgium.
I will play through the music collection in the order that it sits on the shelves at the moment (respect for 'original order' was installed in me in my training as an archivist). I will treat the collection as a narrative, to be read.
For both cassettes and LPs I am starting by the ones that are out already: the tapes piled up next to the tape player on the fridge in the kitchen, and the LPs in the little LP holder next to the record player.
This meant listening to a Van Morrison tape this morning, and a song about going out with a girl with TB (TB sheets). I found out that his real name is Ivan Morrison.
I am allowing myself to skip some LPs but only on condition that I am prepared to renounce them for good and never play them at all. I took 'Lullabies' by Cocteau Twins off the deck after one minute. I skipped three Madness LPs. I am listening to 'Un Gars Ben Ordinaire' by Robert Charlebois while I write this. Work starts tomorrow.