Happy Birthday to us! In January we celebrated our 2nd birthday by polishing off some articles we've been Jonesin' to post up for a while. 2013 turned out to be the year in which two major crate-digging forums paused for a minute to take stock of their legacy to record collectors in the 21st Century.
Members of Soul Strut set the ball rolling by voting for albums of most significance to their conversation during the sites 14 year existence. Given Soul Strut's roots in Hip Hop and crate-digging the chart is rammed with desirable '95 WOF LPs and classics from the Golden Age of Hip Hop.
Soul Strut Founder Rick Smith kindly took time out to discuss aspects of Soul Strut's origins and changes that have occured in the lifetime of the website that calls itself the original vinyl Community.
In response Waxidermy founder Jeff Hassett solicited members of the Waxidermy forum to choose LPs they felt were most closely associated with their site. A very different looking canon emerged reflecting Waxidermy's 7 year pre-occupation with searching for gold through every overlooked 7" and 12" in the music industry's extremely Long Tail.
Comparing both polls, the lack of household names and the very few overlaps between them confirms Chris Anderson's 2004 Long Tail prediction about the internet and World Wide Web creating micro-cultures and niche markets.
The Forumusic team decided to collate LPs from popular threads and create an unofficial Very Good Plus 100 which was judged not bad by VG+ members and the good news is an official poll is now underway.
We will at some point replace our cobbled together effort with the official one to see what the UK's No.1 crate-digging forum is really made of.
Regulars know Forumusic loves celebrating the CD Swaps which take place annually on the Very Good Plus and Waxidermy forums. We slaved over a hot scanner in December 2013 to add several more sets and now have 2007 to 2013 on display in our CD Swaps Index. Go to CDs > Swap CDs Index and pick a year to see the art work.
It's shocking really. Collectively we've spent 40 years hanging around forums celebrating all things vinyl and all of a sudden we have a section devoted entirely to CDs. As it is the 25th Anniversary of the record industry ganging up to destroy vinyl production and engineer huge profits from CDs we thought we'd start giving this much maligned format some love.
We love vinyl as much as every other bearded, overweight, over 40-year-old in a bad T-shirt but did musical creativity just grind to a halt in 1990 when CD sales soared and vinyl slumped? Should we really hate on the CD format just because the record industry used it a Trojan horse to raid their back catalogues and make billions of dollars? There's a shed load of fantastic music to be discovered on CD that's never been available on any other format.
We've already found music we really like on Pop CDs. No Hits Required is our project to discover good pop songs that were never promoted as singles. If you regularly buy crap-looking LPs to try and find good tracks buried at the tail end end of Side 2 well, this is that but on pop CD from the 90s and 00s.
Perusing the shelves for pop CDs we began to notice an extraordinary number of self-released artist CDs. We call them Private Burns. They're similar to the Private Press LP phenomenon which Paul Major waxed lyrical about in his 80s mailing lists, Dante Carfagna dubbed Left Field Americana in early issues of Wax Poetics and Johan Kugelberg celebrated in his 2013 book called Home Made Records. We've posted up some favourite private burns from last year in our CD section.
From some magical tracks we've already uncovered we're laying bets it wont be very long before some great 90s outsider artists will be unearthed, properly appraised and reissued.
We're only just beginning to survey the mountain of artists who released one album on CD in the 90s and 00s and then disappeared without a trace. Remember when magazines like Q, The Word, Mojo, Select and Uncut screamed 50 pages of New Music Reviews! from their front covers?
Over production from previous decades still fuels vinyl collecting and now there's at least two decades worth of CD over production to wade through too. The Long Tail was stretched even further by hundreds of independent CD-only labels who came and went in the blink of a half inch review in the column of a
music magazine. We've only just begun excavations in this huge area and have already found some superb stuff. We'll get an article about some of these into our CD section some time this year.
Being a dedicated digger you ignore the naysayers proclaiming there's no decent vinyl to be found in charity shops any more and carry on regardless even though there are days when pickings are slim.
At these times wise diggers peruse the shelves either for CDs that are a damn good listen and unavailable on vinyl or for CDs worth a few bob for selling on Ebay or Discogs.
In our CD section under Collectable CDs Forumusic is building up a catalogue of CDs you might want to keep an eye out for along with pointers about CD collecting generally.
Over the years record collectors have retroactively attached labels to different kinds of music and 24 hour chat on internet forums has accelerated this habit.
95 WOF is internet forum shorthand for desirable records that were displayed on the walls of record shops during the 1995 heyday of digging the crates for breaks. Many of the LPs featured on record shop walls had breaks on that had already been used by top US hip-hop producers of the time.
n Canons you'll find our best attempt at building a '95 WOF and an overview of some discussion that took place in a VG+ thread about accurately defining the term.
Huge thanks to all Soul Strut and Very Good Plus members who stretched both memory banks and grey matter to help us build it.
If you're puzzling over the performers featured on this page punctuating the snapshots of sleeves from a variety of Private Burns, canonical albums, CD Swaps and Collectable CDs then puzzle no more.
In perfect timing for our posting of the Soul Strut 100 they're all ladies from the Soul Strut 100-approved band ESG who played live at the Think Tank club in Newcastle UK in February 2014.
Craig Sayers and Carol Lyn caught up with them to ask about recording with Martin Hannett and playing at both the opening of the Hacienda in Manchester and the closing of the Paradise Garage in New York.
Craig and Carol also had the courage to question how the band felt about being one of the most sampled bands on the planet.
The excellent photographs on this page and in the article are by the Think Tank club's official photographer Dan Graham.
Regular visitors will notice some new sections as yet unpopulated excepting an 'Artcles Coming...' sign.
Meeting fellow obsessives we've been hearing more about collections of badges, flyers, record store bags, obscure fanzines. Some generous souls have volunteered to write about canonical films and books so we've planted some empty boxes to put them in.
Thanks very much for visiting our site and we hope you check back here from time to time.
Ian Townsend , Col Wolfe, Andy Cann