Popping in to HMV in Henry Street in search of the new Unthanks album, I was shocked to discover a bunch of strange-looking chrome and metal gizmos where the CD racks used to be and found myself uttering the phrase,"Where's the music gone?" to a shop assistant.
Many's the time people have pondered that self-same question, but there's still plenty of it out there and with record companies feverishly trying to recoup what cash they can before the industry collapses completely, there are some amazing bargains to be had. Warner Music has been leading the charge most noticeably of late, with a set of superb CD packages for £15.99, which get you up to five albums by classic artists.
Little Feat, Aztec Camera, Dr John, Echo and the Bunnymen and Aretha Franklin are just a handful of the acts on offer and if anyone can tell me of a better deal than the first five Otis Redding albums for under 16 quid, I'm all ears.
Warners' Rhino imprint has just issued the first ten Joni Mitchell studio albums in a package for a ridiculous ¤29.99. That's less than the price of a pint for each early studio outing for one of the greatest songwriters ever. The first three collections have flashes of greatness but it was with her fourth set, 1971's Blue, that Mitchell revealed her true genius, going beyond the confessional nature of the singer-songwriter genre and into a realm of her own creation.
The follow-up For the Roses seems like a consolidation by comparison -- but Mitchell was adding jazzier and more avant-garde textures to her music on Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns before continuing this remarkable run in 1976 with Hejira, where she delivered one of her greatest masterpieces with the evocative Amelia.
Such productivity and progression over a five-year period is unthinkable today and was pretty impressive back in the day, too, lest we forget. And that such genius is available for what amounts to a knockdown price is all the more remarkable. And if you've never heard these brilliant albums before then I really do envy you.
PS: The CDs in HMV Henry Street have been moved downstairs.
> GEORGE BYRNE