One day I noticed in the back room of Egg Records a big box full of â I donât know â maybe a hundred different James Last records. I was impressed because I didnât think there were a hundred different James Last records. There certainly doesnât need to be a hundred different ones. Although Iâve never listened to even one James Last record, Iâm certain they all are of the same ilk of âmuzakâ, and so are interchangeable. The best thing about seeing so many of them in one place is being able to marvel at the kitsch cover art.
When pressed, my boss Ric admitted that not only had he acquired a hundred-odd James Last records, he had also ended up with an equal amount of James Last CDs. âBut I didnât buy them,â he was at pains to assure me. He had certainly taken possession of them with a big collection that he had recently bought, but, he insisted, throughout the negotiation of the purchase, he was adamant that he didnât want to buy any James Last records. And why would he buy them? He didnât want them, they didnât suit our shop, we surely couldnât expect customers to buy them from us. But the seller was just as adamant: he wouldnât sell his collection unless Ric bought the James Last records and CDs as part of it. âIâd already decided the amount Iâd offer him for the collection,â Ric explained. âThen, I thought, if he makes me take the James Last stuff, Iâd actually offer him less than if he agreed to keep them himself. So in the end, he lost money by making me take it.â
Fantastic. Although he didnât know it, some guy had effectively paid us a wad of cash to get rid of his James Last collection.
But who has the last laugh here?
Egg Records is a pretty cool shop. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, like members of Spiritualized when they were in Sydney, shopped at Egg Records and raved about the store. Do we want to be a shop full of James Last records and CDs? Which musicians would rave about us then? Richard Clayderman, maybe. Klaus Wunderlich, if he hadnât passed away.
I know âeasy listeningâ and âmuzakâ have a place in society, particularly since âcocktail musicâ was exonerated and rehabilitated a little while back. Even Albert Einstein argued that the uninitiated should listen to Mantovaniâs schmaltzy renditions of classical music in order to prepare for giving the real thing a go. Perhaps one day DJs will flock to op shops to locate James Last, as they do to locate copies of moog albums and field recordings of peoples indigenous to third-world countries, in order to base dance grooves upon them. If so, we should hold on to these records until a time that theyâre worth twenty bucks each. However, forgetting for a moment that we have recourse to intellectual discourse and instead taking musical appreciation back to first principles in order to appraise it with the passion and raw emotion that, for most music lovers, hooked us onto it in the first place, the question remains:
What on earth could we do with this shit?
I suggested we put them up on the wall and charge customers a buck for three darts, to chuck at them, maybe with prizes for the best shots.
The problem with this is, obviously, the charging of a buck for what must be every music-loverâs inaliable right: to chuck pointy projectiles at effigies of James Last. Besides which, thereâd always be one moron whoâd have someoneâs eye out, and it would all end in tears.
Ric came up with a better idea: suspending black markers from the ceiling, and mounting a bunch of covers as a wall disply, customers are invited to deface the covers as they see fit. Once the selection has been defaced, they will be replaced with a fresh batch. How cool is that!
For a closer look at the covers that came out slightly less blurred when snapped in a hurry during the dead period shortly before closing on a dull day, click here. (If I can be bothered, Iâll have another go during another lull in the working day. Or not.)