I started this blog to catalog Ted Collins’ record collection. It’s a decent sized collection that was curated with care and discrimination over many decades, starting with his first Led Zeppelin IV record that he picked up around the age of 8. In addition, it is damn tasty. Every record for the most part was chosen deliberately for some aesthetic value that he wanted to hear more of. Granted, there are some duds in there that he might have picked up because he wanted to hear one track on the entire compilation. But for the most part, he chose it for his collection because he either really dug the record, or was a fan of the band and wanted as many of their records as he could find for a decent bargain. Ted was a cheapskate when it came to buying records. This has become very apparent as I comb through the collection and notice the price tags ranging from $1.99 to $3.99 on many of the worn out covers. An aside, it would appear that record stores suffer from the Norelco razor syndrome, selling everything at a value.99 cents….
But back to the collection, another quality of it is that you can trace the lineage of bands and their influences, if you want to dive into that. Ted spent a lot of time reading about bands, their back stories, their influences, who they toured with, who they were friends with, what bands they formed after another had disbanded… there was always a rock history book that he was in the middle of. So if you care to, you can read up on The Flying Burrito Brothers, and how they were a spin-off of the Byrds, and how Graham Parson met up with Emmy Lou Harris later on to do back-up vocals on his first solo record, and then you can listen to all of these records and hear for yourself all of the influences and inspirations that were gleaned over the course of a band’s or artist’s creative ark. This collection is a veritable encyclopedia of rock, all be it a limited one, focused on what Ted liked. The collection is very rockin’ rock heavy. This is not to say that you won’t find multiple Nilsson records or some jazz artists in the mix. But for the most part, Ted really stuck to bands that ripped it up, and good for him! He had it figured out!
I decided to take on the project of listening to his entire collection initially because I was missing my best friend and wanted to keep a connection to him musically, as this was a point of intersection that we shared and enjoyed. Hours, days, weeks… months and years really when I think about it… were spent sitting on the couch listening to music and banging our heads. The “rocking head of Ted” was legendary amongst our friends. If Ted’s head was nodding, then the band was rocking. It was like a barometer of good taste and one his buddies enjoyed being in the presence of. Also, Ted was the DJ of my life. There was always music playing in our household, either recordings or live as he practiced piano or guitar. Longing to fill that quiet space, I started playing his records continually. This might annoy him quite a bit as he was so protective of the vinyl and would frown upon me handling it. But hey, too bad Collins!
Since his passing, I’ve found a lot of comfort in playing his records and thinking about what he probably connected to the most on particular songs, or what he appreciated about the feel of the entire compilation as a whole production. It helps me keep a conversation with Ted going, which I am grateful for. I decided that I would listen to each and every record in the collection with this goal in mind; to understand why he bought it and what he liked about it. There’s something to be discovered from each record, and much like a mystery detective, I’ll understand a little more about Ted and his musical tastes if I sit and listen to them. It’s a challenge as there are a lot of records to spin! Being practically minded, I figured I should just go through the collection alphabetically. I talked to my friend Mike about this, deliberating on which direction to go. He gave me the best advice: “You’ve got to go from Z to A so that you can get back to the beginning again”. ZZ Top it is!