1/21/2010

A Forked Path - The Two Worlds of Collecting Fucked Up

As I mentioned just a few hours ago, I got in a few records today. From Free Cake I got the Virgin Witch 7" I pre-ordered, along with Pulling Teeth - Paranoid Delusions | Paradise Illusions. The Virgin Witch 7" is pretty cool; it's limited to 666 copies (evil!), with a screened cover and B side (the band logo). The first 100 copies had a different colour cover, and a different screen on the B Side (the leviathan style pentagram). Both songs are pretty good, they'll certainly get some rotation over the coming weeks, so not much to say yet, although right off the bat the two songs are very different, and would have worked well serving opposite sides of the record. The first song is very slow, with a long buildup, where as the second song kicks off at a frenetic pace and has a blitz of a solo near the end.

I moreso just had to mention those as a formality, as this post is more concerned with the second package, the new singles compilation from Fucked Up, Couple Tracks. This one was also pre-ordered a few months ago. Thinking back on the process of initially hearing about this record, to actually heaing it today was really an archetypal example of why I love records.I have been following Fucked Up for a few years now, albeit not as long as others, right before Hidden World came out. In my mind, they are not the type of band for the casual listener, and to truly appreciate them, you have to dive right in and explore all their material. It is no secret that they have built a reputation for a constant slew of odd, rare releases spanning many genres of the alternative type. So as it so happens, I became a big fan, and any big fan will attempt to acquire all their releases, as they would with any band.

Fucked Up however, are different than any band, and they truly epitomize the joys of record collecting for me. Part of this lies in fortunate timing, as I am glad I discovered them mid-way through their career, as they began experimenting and evolving from the simple punk/hardcore formula. Being able to say you were there from the start is just some boring elitist sentiment, and makes it seem like you're only still here because it caught on. In my case, with Fucked Up I was able to enjoy the two worlds of record collecting as I see it divided; discovering the old vanguard classics, and following the current evolution of music. You see, finding one of the many, many old Fucked Up 7"s, released before their first LP, is on par with finding some classic Dischord record. Sure Fucked Up are still around, but not strictly in that format, and songs such as "Circling the Drain", "Police" and "Generation" have cemented themselves as classics of this generation, and I get a similar excitement from these songs as punk classics from other times. With their back catalogue so thick, its as unlikely that you'll complete a Fucked Up collection as fulfilling all your classic punk wants.

Meanwhile, following this plethora of golden hits, they're still an extremely active band, in fact amongst the most active of punk bands, as they continue to release material and tour incessantly. At this point the band fulfills my other favorite side of record collecting, and that is keeping up with a band you love, and not only getting what they put out, but watching them evolve, and wondering what they will do next, a question that is constantly asked with a band such as Fucked Up. And with releases coming so often, the excitement sticks around, and doesn't die with some tortuous two year wait time between albums.

I will admit that the one record collecting quality Fucked Up does not fulfill, through no fault of their own, is that following either side of their career is one that must be done online. Surely you can find represses of the classic 7"s in record shops, but the gems are hoarded for eBay, and new records are best to be pre-ordered if you want first dibs, which you surely do. This was the case for the new double LP singles collection, Couple Tracks (Quick hint: Matador seems to always have some coupon, whether its some holiday season, or just because it's a pre-order, so sniff one out before ordering from them!). I ordered it as soon as I saw it, in late October, and knew there would be a couple months  long wait time before I got it, but no worries. Over this time, there were many updates as to what was going on with it, which just added to the excitement of getting the record. Normally I totally forget I pre-ordered something and it's just a welcome surprise when it comes, so this created a different welcomed anxiety.

I first got an e-mail from Matador a month after ordering, explaining that there was now a very limited 7", with the same name and cover as the collection (those tricksters!), that would be sold, as a bundle with the collection, and that because I ordered so early, it would be included gratis. Ideally they probably would have included it as a surprise, but knowing the chaos fans would raise for thinking they missed out on a record, they had to send out an email. As time went on, the Fucked Up blog was posting about both records, with pretty hilarious explanations. Finally I received in the mail today, six days before it's official release date. I listened to the 7" first, excited about  new material. The A side, fittingly, is about record collecting, while the B Side is a positively proud song about the birth of Pink Eyes' son. Listening to it I noticed that the labels were backwards, and finding these sort of oddities about records on your own really rather than reading about them is thrilling as a record collector.

Finally, the compilation of singles and rarities only helps other newcomers to the band understand and appreciate the band, while the faithful fans read the liner notes and laugh at the appropriately unflattering photo on the back of the jacket.

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