Armagideon Time

By my entirely subjective standards, there are few albums as “essential” as Belly’s Star. The fancy-pants 180-gram double-LP reissue of the band’s 1993 debut was one of my first “new” vinyl acquisitions, which was covered (among other tangential ramblings) in a previous post.

It has also been spun a grand total of four or five times since it arrived. That’s well below the number of spins other Most Favored records have received and very much at odds with my affection for the album.

The blame resides on two-disc treatment the reissue got, where the commitment to maximum fidelity created a situation where the listener has to flip or change the record after every other track . This might sound like another chapter in the “Andrew is a lazy motherfucker” narrative, but that’s not the problem in this case. I will gleefully cycle through a stack of singles or cherry pick from compilation cuts when the mood strikes me. The physicality of phonograph listening tends to get mythologized to absurd levels, but it certainly is part of the charm. I was amazed by how much muscle memory I’d retained when it came to pulling/placing/flipping/shelving records, despite a twenty year hiatus.

Breaking Star into a four-sided affair broke the way I experienced the album. Since the moment I first brought the cassette version home in 1993, it has been something I threw on with the intent of listening from beginning to end, a warm (and occasionally disturbing) dream pop soundtrack for cranking out college essays, reading on the couch, or easing into an late afternoon nap.

Star has been an album to luxuriate to, but it’s hard to maintain that level of immersion when you know you’ll have to get up in five-to-ten minutes to flip the record. I knew that a single-record LP version of the album had been released for European markets back in the day, but asking prices ran on the high side and “re-buying shit I already owned” didn’t rank to high on my record purchasing priorities. I threw it on my Discogs wishlist, more as a reminder to myself than anything else. It remained for the better part of a year before a listing popped up which hit the sweet spot in terms of condition and sale price.

It arrived yesterday, and has already racked up more spins in twenty-four fours than the reissue saw in eighteen months.

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