It’s a common stereotype of the record store employee: accompanied by a contemptuous sneer and a scoff, that timeless question, “You mean you’ve never heard *insert obscure album made in a beatnik’s armpit in 1968*?”
It’s hard to know whether they would be apoplectic or perversely thrilled if you admitted to never having heard a record that’s widely accepted as a classic, a nigh-on compulsory entry on the rawk reading list – ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, ‘Is This It’, ‘Nevermind’, ‘Marquee Moon’, ‘The Kick Inside’, or ‘The Stone Roses’, which, as the rumour mill about their reunion started churning on Friday, I realised I’d never heard in full.
Why? Well I was one month old when it came out, not that that’s any excuse or obstacle – there are plenty of albums I love that are much older than I am. The very dull reason is that once I had aged enough to give a damn, I, just… didn’t. I’d heard all the singles, and they never did anything for me. The band were rarely cited as influences by any of my favourite artists, so I never felt compelled to listen to their albums, and haven’t done since. Call me lazy, snobby, an awful music journalist, I don’t mind. I’m sure some of you have never bothered with it either.
I’ve heard ‘The Stone Roses’ now – it went on in the office as soon as the news started to rumble – and I’m still not particularly excited by the news that they’re back. In fact, I’m really not looking forward to another massive nostalgia binge – what with this, Steps at Number One in the album charts and a campaign to get ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to the Christmas top spot, the future feels a little bleak, and frankly the last thing forward-looking, 2011 Manchester needs is this baggy ball and chain. However, those are matters for a different piece.
As Tom Ewing highlighted in his recent blog for the Guardian about how he’d never heard ‘Nevermind’, there’s a multitude of reasons that you might skip out on a certain album: your age, a record’s irritating ubiquity on release, or y’know, simply not giving two hoots about the band.
For some, the idea of missing out on the classics (particularly music journalists missing them out) is sacrilege. I’d argue that the massive albums you haven’t heard are compensated for by weirder, less universally revered things in your collection, which ultimately (cliché alert) mean that we don’t all share the same homogenised, banal taste.
So, I’ve owned up to (one of) the holes in my listening history – now it’s your turn. Which massive albums have you never heard? Why have you never got around to listening to them? Don’t be shy. And if you feel that way inclined, now’s your chance to make a case for the obscure records that you think should rightly be on anyone’s must-hear list. Here’s mine.