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album anniversaries

As some of you may have noticed (and acknowledged -- thanks Sean) on the "Rate the last album" thread, I've rated two albums that have celebrated recent anniversaries -- Achtung Baby and Astral Weeks. This wasn't a coincidence; it's my latest project.

The idea - listening to albums on the anniversary of their release dates - is one that I've been kicking around for a while now, but only started doing a few weeks ago. Actually, it was inspired by an interview that I read (some time ago) about a Canadian artist who would only listen to his favorite records during the season that each were released, because the emotions of the record became tied to the particular season; ie. fall, winter, etc. I understood the idea, but it seemed far too disciplined and depriving to me, so I decided to tweak it in a way that was a little less stringent.

So, I've spent the last little while researching the release dates of my favorite albums; so far, I've plugged about 200 albums (and the dates for each) into my blackberry's calendar, so I get reminders of what I need to listen to. The idea is simple: at some point during the anniversary day, I have to listen to that particular album straight through. No ifs ands or buts.

On certain days, like today (and many others throughout the year), there's no albums that I need to listen to. On other days though, there can be as many as three! Like tomorrow, November 22... two Beatles albums AND The Kinks - Village Green. It's a big day; damn good thing it's a Saturday. (Fwiw, August 27th is also a doosey, as is October 2.) Not surprisingly, my busiest months will be June, August, September and November -- the months that typically see the most album releases.

On the days that don't have any albums, I can listen to whatever I want. (I can do that anyway on the days that do have required listening; it's just that I have to get to through the albums at some point.)

There are some albums which I can't find exact release dates for, so in those cases I'm pretty much forced to improvise and pick an arbitrary day during the release month (which feels wrong, but what else can I do?) You might have noticed my post from a short time ago, asking for help with dates for five albums -- dates that copious amounts of research have yet to uncover. And there's been more since. But even on a site like this which is dedicated to music nerdery, it seems I was barking up the wrong tree as no help was forthcoming.

Also worth mentioning... along with album release dates, I've also included an "In Memoriam" aspect. Basically, for my favorite deceased artists -- Cooke, Cobain, Lennon, Harrison, Hendrix, N. Drake, SRV, Jeff Buckley, etc -- I've plugged the dates of their deaths into my blackberry as well. On those dates, I pay tribute by listening to as much of their respective catalogs as I can (or at least, as much as I can of what I own). I haven't come across one yet, but the next one in line is Nick Drake (November 25), and while I'm confident that I'll be able to get through his entire studio output, I'm really excited about it too.

Anyway, that's the gist of it. I think it was Greg who mentioned something about not really listening to albums anymore, and I know exactly where he's coming from. Since I've had my iPod(s), I've been totally singles oriented; I'll listen to an album here and there, but for the past four years it's mostly been just the pure bliss of random shuffle. I think this regimented listening schedule will be a fun way for me to get back into albums.

Any comments and/or suggestions?

Re: album anniversaries

Anthony, I like your idea. I'm taking in so much music now I'm neglecting my older music. I ought to listen to stuff as a designated anniversary time or I might not ever listen to it at all.

However, it would be great if there was a master list of album release dates, or at least a definitive resource so I know exactly when an album entered the world. I know every album released every week since the beginning of time would be massive, but even if looked up my top 100 it would be kind of tedious.

I might stick with a Zappa disography I printed off a long time ago. When he releases 60 or so albums you can celebrate Zappa every week! Most of his early stuff just has a release month, though.

Next month is Zappa month everyone. He was born and he passed away in December.

Re: album anniversaries

Thanks, Jonah.

Yeah, some sort of definitive resource would be nice, for sure. Thing is, I don't think one exists. So far, how I've been going about it is cross-referencing dates listed on AMG, RYM, Amazon, artist's websites, Wikipedia (a last resort) -- and if there's agreement between any of those sites, then that's the date I'll go with. Even at this point, I still haven't been able to track down any book with this info.

Further to this, when I enter a particular album/date into my blackberry, it actually shows what day of the week it was. For example, February 1, 1994 was the release date of Green Day's "Dookie" (at least, that's the consensus), and on my BB that date shows up as a Tuesday, so I feel pretty confident that the release date is correct. But then, something like February 17, 1985 -- the release date of Tears for Fears' "Songs from the Big Chair" (as listed on their official website) -- was a Sunday. I have a hard time with that one, since when were records ever released on the weekend?

Also, I forgot to mention to that with UK/US releases, I've gone with the release date from the artist/band's native country (eg. "Kid A" came out on October 2 in the UK; October 3 in the US/Can. Since Radiohead are a UK band, for my purposes it's October 2).

But for live albums, I'm actually going with the date of the actual show, not the date of the release. So for example, the official bootleg for Pearl Jam - "11/6/00 - Seattle, Washington" -- listening to it on November 6 seems a lot more appropriate than listening to it on its official release date, March 27. In the case of "Frampton Comes Alive!", which was recorded over several nights, I've picked the date that the majority of the live album was recorded on: June 14, San Francisco. (Realistically, I should go with the date that he went into the studio to do overdubs! haha)