Monday, 24 November 2008

Chinese Democracy: one more for the old record collection, then

I went into a record shop today and bought a newly released record: a treat I used to give myself about three or four times a week back in my adolescence, and which I now do roughly once a year. To be strictly accurate, I went into Woolworth's (still there, at time of writing...) and bought a compact disc - that increasingly forlorn and discredited format that even in 1987 was being slated as 'the rich man's eight-track tape.'
Given this was my once-a-year musical treat, and the 'record' in question a much-anticipated collection by a bestselling artist, I was rather hoping to pluck a gleaming shrink-wrapped CD from some conspicuous cardboard tower right at front of store, then join a lively queue at the counter while the instore stereo blared out the opening track... But, no, I had to really search to find a display copy of Chinese Democracy in the humdrum racks of the CD section, a long way behind the top sellers from Pink and Dido, and the new one from the girl who won Strictly Come Dancing last year. Still, the 50-ish lady at the counter gave me a friendly smile: 'Guns and Roses', she murmured uncomprehendingly as she went to exchange my dummy case for the real goods.
Funnily enough, if I'd been listening to the Today programme this morning (though frankly I'd rather give myself an Axl-esque tattoo with a razor blade) I could have heard a discussion of the merits of said record by two 'rock critics' (scroll down) - no doubt some light sandwich filler between keen anticipation of the PBR (see entries passim).
Instead, when the time permitted, I had a look round the web and found quite a few droll and touching testimonies from American rock writers/fans who had wistful experiences much like my own Woolies moment at branches of the US retailer Best Buy, where Chinese Democracy went on sale exclusively on Sunday. Best Buy doesn't go in for 'midnight madness', so no excited queues there either... I've lost track of the funniest bit of writing I read in that vein, but this MTV report captures the general mood.
It should be said that Chuck Klosterman's review for The Onion has done the hard thinking for all of us oldsters on the preceding issue: "Chinese Democracy is (pretty much) the last Old Media album... the last album that will be marketed as a collection of autonomous-but-connected songs, the last album that will be absorbed as a static manifestation of who the band supposedly is, and the last album that will matter more as a physical object than as an Internet sound file. This is the end of that."
How many more trips to Woolies for this old stager then? In the meantime, I like my new record a great deal and look forward to that all-important second play. Today I think the track I liked best was 'Better'.

No comments: