ufoHe’s back! The North East’s walking encyclopaedia on all things classic rock writes exclusively for RUSHONROCK every week.

And today Self Made Man opens his heart as he mulls over the dilemma caused by the ease of digital downloads.

Read his thoughts right here every week. 


It should have been the most straightforward decision.

Robert Plant’s new album Lullaby And…The Ceaseless Road was released on Monday and naturally been a huge fan of Percy’s eclectic catalogue, I had to have it.

But would I be buying a CD or downloading the music onto my iTunes library?

(Vinyl, sadly, wasn’t a third option. Much as I welcome the growth in the LP market, I’ve never got round to buying a new turntable.)

Listed below are the factors I had to take into consideration:

1 I ran out of physical storage space for my CD collection late last year.

2 Even when I buy a CD, invariably I download the tracks and listen to them digitially via by iPad or iPod.

3 Buying a copy required a time-wasting trip into town plus the extra cost of car parking. Downloading is quick, easy and convenient.

4 Increasingly, anyone buying a CD because they want to read the lyrics requires not so much a magnifying glass as a microscope so small is the print.

5 If I play albums through my iPod on my car music system, the screen in front of me displays the artwork, and the name of the song. Inexplicably, if I insert a CD, such information is not forthcoming.

So what did I do? Yes. You’ve guess it, I bought the album which currently sits uncomfortably in a horizontal position above the tightly-packed, vertically displayed ‘R’ section in my CD collection.

I can’t be the only one who defies logic in this manner. Maybe it’s a generation thing or the fact I like complete sets, having bought every solo album Plant’s released since Led Zeppelin’s demise.

This year, I’ve probably bought more music from the iTunes Store than in any previous year but it’s not quite the same.

Blues Pills issued their self-titled debut in late-July when I was abroad and so keen was I to listen to it at the earliest opportunity, I downloaded it onto my iPad.

It was as good as I hoped it would be – a definite contender for my album of 2014.

And that’s the problem. I don’t feel I actually own it. Yes, I’ve listened to each track at least 20 times in the past five weeks but I can’t touch it, I can’t hold it, read it or look at the spine (even if I would have struggled to squeeze it in between by Blue Oyster Cult and Blur CDs.)

My favourite albums are all there in front of me, neatly and alphabetically stacked on. Blues Pills album isn’t.

I can listen to it when I’m driving, running or even working in my study but the album isn’t really there in the way that Plant’s Lullaby and….is.

There’s a part of me that’s seriously tempted to go out and buy it even though I’d probably never even listen to it because the music’s already safely downloaded into my library and I’ve nowhere to put it.

I’m fighting this urge, really fighting it.

Ian Murtagh