A Lifetime Of Music: 1 Year In

Author: BD Joyce

A year ago, I decided to start working through my CD collection in alphabetical order, one album at a time, with the aim of posting a review per week. In that time, I’ve reviewed 40 albums, but I’ve got a lot more out of the process than I thought I might. So what have I learned?

  • Listening to music with a view to writing a review is a different, and sometimes more immersive experience, than it usually is. Much of the time, music is simply forming the soundtrack to everyday life, and my focus will be on cooking, driving, or working. However, actively paying close attention to each album that I’m preparing a review for means that I am hearing small details that I hadn’t previously noticed, or becoming enamoured with songs that have previously passed me by, all of which enhances my appreciation of the artist’s work.
  • Thus far at least, there are very few truly awful albums in my collection. To a degree, this is unsurprising; with my finite disposable income acting as a constraint on my ability to collect, I tend to buy records that I suspect I will like by bands that I am already a fan of, or suspect that I will enjoy based on other reviews, recommendations or just the track record of the individuals involved. However, what is very apparent is that the more I listen to even mediocre albums that I’ve overlooked historically, the more likely it is that I will identify facets of a band’s sound that I find intriguing, an interest which ultimately unlocks greater enjoyment.
  • Expanding my vocabulary to find novel ways to describe music that is at a fundamental level fairly similar is extremely challenging. There are only so many adjectives to convey the thrill of an excellent guitar riff or catchy vocal melody, and it is difficult to avoid repetition at times, particularly when working through the extensive discography of a single band. However, trying and sometimes succeeding in this is probably the single most rewarding part of the experience. In fact, I have come to realise that if there is a single reason why I’ve managed to keep this exercise up for 12 months now, it is the satisfaction of the creative process, and the fulfilment in generating a deft turn of phrase that perfectly encapsulates how I feel about a piece of music. It’s not about working towards some kind of ‘completion’ and reaching the end of my collection, it’s about the voyage itself.
  • Finally, I have learned just how much I adore AC/DC. I was concerned that spending weeks repeatedly listening to a back catalogue of somewhat homogeneous and anti-progressive rock ‘n’ roll would dull their appeal, but in fact it only deepened my appreciation of just how good they are at doing what they do, and about the endless variety that can be found even within the most narrow parameters.

After one year of listening and rating, my top 10 albums look like this:

ArtistAlbumYear of ReleaseRating
AC/DCBack In Black198098%
AC/DCHighway To Hell197994%
AborymFire Walk With Us!200191%
Acid BathPaegan Terrorism Tactics199691%
Acid BathWhen The Kite String Pops199490%
AbigorSupreme Immortal Art199890%
AC/DCLet There Be Rock197789%
AerosmithToys In The Attic197588%

How many of these albums will survive unmoved in 12 months’ time? I look forward to finding out.

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