Surprise obsessions are a difficult thing for me. I started last week on a sudden quest toward a dual purpose. Like many other inspirations of mine, it’s a race to finish the quest before the desire runs out.
I’m actually not sure where the spark came from, but it’s been something lingering inside me for a very long time. The end result will be this: to own a complete collection of albums published under the MCA Master Series label and secondly, to create framed artwork of the album covers for my walls (copyrights be damned).
Let me explain the history of my experience with MCA Master Series. When I was in my impressionable youth, I had acquired a home stereo, which had the new-fangled tech of the day – Digital Compact Disc – and I was building a CD collection of my own. My stereo was monstrous, like most probably were at that time. A full component system with receiver, dual tape deck, CD player, and the requisite 4-ft tall, 15”-woofer stereo speakers.
Around that time in my life, I was trying to figure out “who I was” and “who I wanted to be”. One thing that I thought I wanted to be was “high-class”. That didn’t necessarily equate to “rich” but more about appreciating art and music beyond the standard radio fare. Let me quickly find an image that sums up my youthful vision…
…well now. That was not a quick search at all, and this isn’t even what I think I originally had in mind, but:
That’s more or less what I imagined, reclining on crazy-modern couches and listening to… what? Something
pretentious classy, sure, but what was that? I hadn’t found it yet.
As luck would have it, around that time, the MCA Master Series was releasing albums, and because I lived in a tiny dump of a city, no one would ever buy that stuff, so it ended up in my music store’s bargain bin – my default shopping section. The first album I bought was Edgar Meyer – Dreams of Flight. I was incredibly attracted to the cover art, because it looked as modern and abstract as I imagined my future listening room would be. The music was clean and clear, jazz/classical, and I grew very fond of it.
Also around that time, I had read some articles mentioning the band Acoustic Alchemy and I noticed they were on the same label as Edgar Meyer. A nearby pawn shop supplied me with these and many more of the MCA Master Series catalog. All were enjoyed (except Booker T Jones, which is the only one I now regret throwing away) and are in my current collection.
Fast-forward to recent days and I’m finding a nostalgic desire to have that innocent dream of what my future could be – relaxing in a modern sofa (which I do have, now), listening to New Age/Jazz/Classical on a high-end audio system, maybe reading some e-books.
My adult sense of appreciation enjoys this music label for another reason. When you put all the albums together, you have a incredibly cohesive marketing design. There’s really something to be said for that, and it’s something that I feel might be lacking today. Because I know the MCA Master Series is all high-quality, I can scan a rack of CDs looking for their consistent design and find something in a flash. Using the same fonts on every album, with a dash of color for uniqueness, was a genius move. You can see the same marketing technique if you are a Telarc or Rykodisc fan – just scan for their logo in the spine. Windham Hill is another example, as well.
Back to the story, I’ve been hammering online sources and local sources for these really old, out-of-print CDs (yes, 30 years!). I don’t want any reissues, if they exist. I want these albums for the original artwork as much as the music. Less than a week into my mission, I have purchased six missing albums. Right now, I have 13 out of out of 43, with 4 en route, leaving 26 left to find and purchase. I’m estimating at least $150 to finish out this collection.
What will that mean? I’ve talked about collections again and again in my blog. And the truth is still there. This collection will mean nothing to anyone else but me. But let’s discard that fact and think about phase two of the plan. Scanning the album covers and getting them printed and framed as artwork. Granted, some of the covers aren’t really suitable for framing, but many of them are. Framing 43 covers? Gah!
I’ll have to post some updates as I progress through this collection growth.