Rock Blog: Are Collections Really Necessary?

November 11, 2016

There’s a name for collectors who have to have everything: “Completists”. It's not a music term, it's a term for the obsessive compulsive personality in all of us, especially the music nerd, who has to have it all. A completist is more often male than female. When a male embarks on a collection, they will stop at nothing to find that white elephant. Think comic books, cars, wine.


I’ve gone through a few of those stages. Original, American-made, size 12 Converse Chuck Taylor high tops. At one point I had about 150 pairs. This was pre-internet, pre-Craigslist, pre-Ebay. I made friends at vintage clothing stores and old school shoe stores. I had some ass-ugly colors and styles that I surely never wore - bright yellow, brown corduroy, an array of flags from around the world. Then one day, a foot doctor recommended I stop wearing them, so I gave them to friends who also had a size 12 foot. You’re welcome. The thing is, I could never be a “completist”, because I didn’t know what the goal actually was, or where the collection would end. You're talking about something that began production in 1921 or so. Who keeps sneakers anyway?  I wanted them all, but didn't know what “all” was.


I have a friend with a similar same problem. He collects Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. A few thousand teeny tiny cars in display boxes in his house outside of Boston. Do you have any idea how many versions there are of The Monkeemobile? A completist needs them all, different tire colors, different era die cast metals, etc. Being a completist collector is hard work friends. A thankless job, and its about this time every year that the music collector - the completist - is faced with an overwhelming reality. It is...The Box Set.


Pink Floyd is no question one of the greatest rock bands ever. 50+ years of groundbreaking prog rock. Within that 50 year history are three era’s: The Syd Barrett years, seven albums of acid-drenched psychedelia. But in America, the least commercially successful. Then the four albums that truly defined their greatness Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. Lastly, the back side of their careers, solo efforts, Pink Floyd without Roger Waters, etc. Great music, but most of it sadly forgotten. Pink Floyd have already released about six “best of" packages and just as many boxed sets. When Dark Side of the Moon was released in a very expanded box five years back, I bought it. Had to. It's one of the greatest, most iconic albums ever. But I think I've listened to it twice.


Now Pink Floyd is about to release another box set. It will be 27 discs. All of the music is pre-Dark Side, which means if you like to dabble with psychedelics, or even some strong weed varietals, you’re in luck. Ummagumma was from this era. One of the great stoner albums of the greatest stoner period. You might not know a single song within 27 discs! This is not “Have a Cigar”, "Comfortably Numb” or “Us and Them”, which by tier own right are trippy. This is good ol' Syd Barrett weirdness. There are films, performances, vinyl singles, memorabilia, interviews, unreleased songs, remixes. This is like lining up for an all you can eat buffet of Andrew Zimmern's still-breathing animal parts. If you like that sort of thing, good on you, if not, well….


The most obsessive compulsive Pink Floyd completist will enjoy “The Early Years 1965-1972" which comes out on Friday, November 11. It might be the mother of all box sets. 27 discs. I imagine those who shell out the $550.00 for this will listen to it in its entirety. Once. Maybe twice. Better chance it will sit on the shelf next the Niel Young box that came out a few years ago which was half as obscene, or the many Grateful Dead box sets, which make this particular obscenity seem mild, like this year’s 80 disc set ($1,000.00).  


If you haven't ventured earlier than Dark Side of the Moon, and you want a taste of this space dust, there’s a 2 CD version. If your significant other has a fistful of cash they are looking to throw around (or away), go ahead. Put it on your Christmas list. And Shine on You Crazy Obsessive, Compulsive Diamond!


- Dave Richards AKA Sergeant Hairclub