Marcus Berkmann

Yes man

‘Why do you buy so many CDs?’ asked my girlfriend. It was not an unreasonable question, although obviously I wasn’t going to admit that. There are all sorts of reasons why you might buy too many CDs. You are bored of the ones you have. There are things you want. You are terrified you might miss something. It was only £8.49. It was only £6.99. It was only £4.99. Alternatively, it’s a compulsion, and you need professional help.

And there’s also the irrefutable truth, which may be the essence of pop music’s appeal, that you never know where the next fantastic song is going to come from. If you only bought all the CDs you knew you were going to like, you would wear out your tastes at about the same rate as most rock artists wear out their talent. Risks have to be taken. New bands have to be tried. Sometimes, old abandoned bands need to be tried again. Good music, even great music, can be found in the least likely places.

A few months ago, when I was knee-deep in a book that needed finishing, I worked in my neighbour’s flat for a couple of weeks while he went on holiday. As I like to work with music, and he has a wide selection of CDs I would never dream of buying, I went through his CD collection with a typically jaundiced eye and ear. Didn’t like this, didn’t like that, but what I did like, to my genuine surprise, was an old Yes compilation, which I think you can still get. It’s called Highlights: The Very Best Of Yes (Atlantic) and it’s a useful primer of their Seventies and Eighties stuff. Ah yes, the heyday of progressive rock, when daft time signatures and Rick Wakeman’s mad keyboards strode the world.

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