By Chris Fluit

I’ve come to the realization that I collect music the same way I collect comic books.  I have a completist streak in me.  If I become a fan of a band or an artist, then I usually try to collect their entire catalog.  I have a bit of the discoverer in me.  I’m always on the lookout for a new favorite or at least someone who’s new to me.  By the way, that’s a bad combination for the pocketbook whether collecting music or comics.  In comics, I have my favorite characters -- Nightcrawler, Nightwing, Starman -- but I usually gravitate towards team books.  In music, I have my favorite solo artists -- Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, Sting -- but I usually gravitate toward bands.  And in both cases, my favorite solo stars are usually associated with a group.  Finally, I’m just a little bit eclectic.  I like superheroes, but my long-boxes and bookshelves are also stuffed with fantasy, science fiction, horror and crime comics.  I love rock ‘n’ roll but I also enjoy listening to rap, country, musicals and jazz -- especially jazz. 

It’s a lot easier to collect than it used to be.  You can find anything you want thanks to the Internet, so it’s no longer impossible to complete a run of old comic books or fill in the back catalog of a favorite artist.  Older comics and albums have become a lot cheaper as well.  For comics, the collapse in the speculator market has made many older comics affordable while the growth of the trade paperback has made other older stories available.  For music, the switch to the digital market has resulted in lots of old CDs making their way into garage sales and bargain bins.  If I can’t find an album in person, I can at least purchase an inexpensive copy online. 

In recent years, my music collection has exploded.  I’m more focused on collecting music right now than comic books (or, should I say, fanatical?).  Although you might not be able to tell by looking at the big stack of back issues and trade paperbacks on my nightstand. 

So what am I collecting right now? 

First, I’ve been picking up a lot of British Invasion and what I like to call American Counterattack music.  I’ve been a huge Rolling Stones fan for a long time (Captain Comics and I bonded over our love of Exile on Main Street when I visited his house a decade ago).  And I think everybody goes through a Beatles stage at some point.  But, over the past couple of years, I’ve been digging a bit deeper.  I’ve picked up albums or greatest hits packages for The Animals, The Kinks, The Hollies and The Small Faces on the British side (I told you I was into bands) plus a few solo stars like Dusty Springfield, Donovan and Van Morrison.  At the same time, I’ve enjoyed listening to American bands who incorporated or responded to that British sound -- folk rockers like The Byrds, country rockers like Gram Parsons and garage rockers like Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels and Question Mark & the Mysterians.  I recently borrowed greatest hits albums for the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Rascals from the library and I’ve had Monkees and Tommy James CDs since I was in high school.

Second, the completist in me has been tracking down albums for some of the big solo stars of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  I’ve nearly completed my Bob Dylan collection (Before the Flood and Empire Burlesque are the last two albums on my wish list).  I’ve got everything by Peter Gabriel, John Mellencamp and Billy Joel.  I’ve picked up a bunch of older David Bowie and newer Eric Clapton, getting me halfway home for each of them.  My white whale at this point is Paul Simon.  I still have the CDs I bought when I was in high school (Graceland, Rhythm of the Saints and a greatest hits album) but his older stuff is still popular enough that it doesn’t show up in bargain bins.  I’ll probably have to break down and buy it at full price. 

Third, I’ve been indulging my interest in underground music of the ‘80s and alternative artists of the ‘90s.  I’ve always had a foot in both the mainstream and the independent camps (I was excited to find a book by an author who claimed a similar wide stance only to be disappointed when I realized he wasn’t being honest with himself).  Alternative music burst onto the scene when I was in high school and took over while I was in college.  Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins are part of the soundtrack of my youth, though I was personally more interested in Matthew Sweet, the Spin Doctors, the Crash Test Dummies and Cracker.  I’ve enjoyed going back and picking up albums that were always around -- albums I didn’t need to own because my brother or a friend or a college roommate already did.

As part of the same impulse, I’ve been sampling indie bands of the ‘80s that influenced the alternative movement of the ‘90s.  Some of these bands were still around in the ‘90s and are long-time favorites like The Pixies, Sonic Youth or XTC.  Other bands were always part of the background as friends listened to them regularly like The Smiths.  I found a great box set called Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the ‘80s Underground that provides a retrospective of that time period.  So far, I’ve sampled The Replacements (a new favorite!) though I have plans to try many more.  I amused myself the other day when an ‘80s Underground disc was followed in the CD changer by a Billy Joel album- one of the artists they were rejecting and reacting against. 

Fourth, I’ve been having fun discovering bands of the new millennium.  For some reason, I wasn’t paying close attention to music as we entered the 21st century.  Maybe it’s because I was finishing grad school and starting a family.  A few artists pierced my consciousness like the Killers, My Chemical Romance, OK Go and the White Stripes (though I was admittedly late to that last bandwagon too), but I missed out on many more.  Now, I’m going back and finding out what I overlooked—contemporaries like the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand or those that followed in their footsteps like the Black Keys and Cold War Kids.  In some cases, I discovered a band through their soundtrack contributions (the Black Lips) or because they had a song that I downloaded for a themed playlist (moe.).  They might not all become new favorites but I’ve at least had a good time exploring.

Fifth, I’ve been dabbling in other genres spanning the spectrum from country to rap.  I enjoy the variety that arises in my stereo and my car.  I prefer outlaw and alt-country so my stack of country CDs is currently topped by old albums by Kris Kristofferson and new albums by Willie Nelson.  My rap collection is a mix of early artists I grew up listening to (Run DMC, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys) and newer hip-hop greats like Kanye West and Wyclef Jean.  Lately, I’ve also dabbled in Latino and Hispanic artists like Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Jose Gonzalez and Alejandro Escovedo though none of them fit the traditional mold of Latin music. 

Finally, I’ve been expanding my jazz collection.  I’ve been a fan of jazz for almost as long as I’ve been a fan of music.  I picked up box sets of swing and jazz when I was in high school as well as individual albums by artists like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis.  I bonded with my college roommate Steve over Charlie Parker and Charlie Mingus.  A couple of years ago, my church hosted a jazz concert and it reminded me how much I’ve always enjoyed that genre of music.  I watched Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary immediately afterward and then binged on jazz albums—Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis and so many more.      

If that sounds like a lot of music, it is.  I haven’t even mentioned brand new artists like Courtney Barnett, Echosmith and Justin Townes Earle.  I have stacks of new CDs everywhere- next to the computer, next to the stereo, in my car.   They’ve even started to outnumber the stacks of unread comic books.  I’ve made it a habit to listen to every new album within two weeks of bringing it home, and listening to each new album at least three times before filing it away on a shelf.  After all, the point of collecting music is listening to it and, when it comes to music, I’m an avid collector. 

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Great stuff, as per usual, Chris.

Like you I have a passion for both music and comic books. I will even tie this column back to comics for a bit. What brought me and the owner of my LCS was music. I had been shopping there for about 4-6 months, and I would pick up my subscription. Hang out for a little bit. Then leave.

It was the day I wore a Wilco t-shirt that me and him struck up a real conversation. We have similar tastes in both music and comics. In the intervening years we've gone to concerts together. I work at his store about once a month. When a convention comes to town that he gets a booth for he asks me to man it with him. One night during the con I will spend the night at his house. We will go to his man cave, share our finds with each other, and also play music for each other. He plays older music for me ("Hey check out this old Staxx Recors artist). While I will play newer stuff for him ("I think you will dig A.Dd+, man!") I always assume his wife hates me, since when I show up we will be drinking and screwing around until the wee hours of the morning. Yet, it is the love of music and comics that cements our friendship.

Like you my music collecting is like my comic book collecting. I've never been much of a completist. I really get into something  (The Zombies or G.I. Combat) and then I kind of move on. I will still pick something up on the cheap from time to time, but never actively seek it out.

I could go on forever, but allow me to make a few recommendations before I close this out.

1. Sturgill Simpson - If you haven't listened to him yet. I highly recommend him. The best country music I have heard in years. He sounds a lot like Waylon Jennings. Man, I love him.

2. Childish Gambino - The musical persona of Donald Glover from Community. A friend at work recommended him to me, and I was genuinely impressed.

3. Old school music: The Zombies are phenomenal if you haven't checked them out yet. Perhaps some Gov't. Mule.

One other thing, don't neglect thrift stores for both music and comics. A local thrift store to me had a bunch of TPBs I bought for 50¢ a piece and CDs for 99¢ each.

Again a great column, Chris.

Thanks for the kind words, Travis.  I wasn't sure if a departure from comics would be welcomed or not.  I'm glad you enjoyed it. 

Like you, I bond with my LCS owner over music.  He introduced me to Chuck Prophet a couple of years ago (a solo rocker who sounds like a cross between Tom Petty & Tom Waits) and we've talked about other bands he's had playing on the store stereo.  I haven't gone over to his house, but we've discussed albums and concerts and stuff like that. 

Thanks for the recommendations, as well.  I saw that the latest Gov't Mule album got an editor's choice recommendation on AllMusic so that might be a good place to start. 



Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Great stuff, as per usual, Chris.

Like you I have a passion for both music and comic books. I will even tie this column back to comics for a bit. What brought me and the owner of my LCS was music. I had been shopping there for about 4-6 months, and I would pick up my subscription. Hang out for a little bit. Then leave.

It was the day I wore a Wilco t-shirt that me and him struck up a real conversation. We have similar tastes in both music and comics. In the intervening years we've gone to concerts together. I work at his store about once a month. When a convention comes to town that he gets a booth for he asks me to man it with him. One night during the con I will spend the night at his house. We will go to his man cave, share our finds with each other, and also play music for each other. He plays older music for me ("Hey check out this old Staxx Recors artist). While I will play newer stuff for him ("I think you will dig A.Dd+, man!") I always assume his wife hates me, since when I show up we will be drinking and screwing around until the wee hours of the morning. Yet, it is the love of music and comics that cements our friendship.

Like you my music collecting is like my comic book collecting. I've never been much of a completist. I really get into something  (The Zombies or G.I. Combat) and then I kind of move on. I will still pick something up on the cheap from time to time, but never actively seek it out.

I could go on forever, but allow me to make a few recommendations before I close this out.

1. Sturgill Simpson - If you haven't listened to him yet. I highly recommend him. The best country music I have heard in years. He sounds a lot like Waylon Jennings. Man, I love him.

2. Childish Gambino - The musical persona of Donald Glover from Community. A friend at work recommended him to me, and I was genuinely impressed.

3. Old school music: The Zombies are phenomenal if you haven't checked them out yet. Perhaps some Gov't. Mule.

One other thing, don't neglect thrift stores for both music and comics. A local thrift store to me had a bunch of TPBs I bought for 50¢ a piece and CDs for 99¢ each.

Again a great column, Chris.

The British Invasion and "The American Counter-Attack" are the soundtrack of my childhood/adolesence, Chris. If you're listening to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Who alongside Lovin' Spoonful, Animals, Guess Who, Question Mark and the Mysterians, The Troggs, Donovan, Van Morrison, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herman's Hermits, King Crimson and The Yardbirds (among others), then you have joined me in middle school. That's the music that made my little brain what it is today.

I've felt for a long time that an oldies band could do quite well if they based their repertoire on music released in 1966 alone.

Growing up, I just assumed whatever was on the radio was always going to be pretty good-to-great. What a bummer to hit the mid-1970s!

It's been entertaining to discover the sources of songs that I knew because of cover versions.  For example, I didn't realize Tom Petty's "Something in the Air" was originally performed by Thunderclap Newman in 1969. 

doc photo said:

I've felt for a long time that an oldies band could do quite well if they based their repertoire on music released in 1966 alone.

...King Crimson is both a little later and more " progressive/heavy/non-poppish/less immediate " by contrast w/your other citations



Captain Comics said:

The British Invasion and "The American Counter-Attack" are the soundtrack of my childhood/adolesence, Chris. If you're listening to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Who alongside Lovin' Spoonful, Animals, Guess Who, Question Mark and the Mysterians, The Troggs, Donovan, Van Morrison, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herman's Hermits, King Crimson and The Yardbirds (among others), then you have joined me in middle school. That's the music that made my little brain what it is today.

...We have a similarity , Chris , in tending to have a liking for both " hip " and supposedly " uncool " music , but , additionally , regarding someone you both cited and illo'd.........

...That Small Faces collection you headlined with makes me wonder...Is that comp of only their Immediate record label (The original record label in Great Britain) material or does it draw from their early U.K. Decca record label material (The label known as Decca in 60s Britain was the label known as  London (especially for Brit stuff) in the U.S. , with Smash and Parrot among the company's , more Yank masters-oriented (I guess) imprints . The old US Decca , during the 60s,  label became MCA during the 70s .) ?

  The first period of the Small Faces 60s career , the material done for UK Decca , is practically unknown in the US 

It's a two-disc collection.  The first disc covers the Decca years and the second disc their Immediate years.  I also have a one-disc collection, The Very Best of, which covers both periods. 

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...That Small Faces collection you headlined with makes me wonder...Is that comp of only their Immediate record label (The original record label in Great Britain) material or does it draw from their early U.K. Decca record label material (The label known as Decca in 60s Britain was the label known as  London (especially for Brit stuff) in the U.S. , with Smash and Parrot among the company's , more Yank masters-oriented (I guess) imprints . The old US Decca , during the 60s,  label became MCA during the 70s .) ?

  The first period of the Small Faces 60s career , the material done for UK Decca , is practically unknown in the US 

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