I recently saw a box of cassettes sitting on a wall by the pavement. I can’t remember exactly what tapes the box contained but have a feeling it was mostly MOR crooning of the kind in which I have no interest. The only tape that seemed to be worth taking away (more as a token of the finding) was Beatles Oldies, a compilation from the 1970s of early Beatles music – as the title suggests. Weeks later I got round to listening to this in the car as I drove in the rain along the north shore of the Clyde. The tape, it turned out, was completely blank.

I have found many bits of recorded music over the years on vinyl, cassette and CD. The first of these I can remember is one I have already written about (The Rentals, New York). Some I documented when I found them, others I just have a vague memory of where and when I came across them.

Here is one of the more thoroughly documented finds:


 Mid-December 2010. CDs found in the street (Balls Pond Road-north side). Cleared from a former squat.


1. Talking Heads, ‘Best of’. No cover.

2. Soundtrack to A. R. Rahman’s ‘Bombay Dreams’. No cover. Subsequently given to Oxfam, Dalston.

3. CDR of Janis Ian’s ‘At Seventeen’. One song only, labeled on CD ‘At Seventeen!’.

4. CDR ‘Selections – 4 – Ian’. Tracks as listed on sleeve:

         1. Mary J. Blige – ‘Family Affair’

         2. Burning Spear – ‘Wailing’

         3. Can – ‘Don’t say No’

         4. John Prine/Nancy Griffith – ‘Speed of sound of Loneliness’

         5. Drive-by Truckers – Danko/Manuel

         6. Dorothy Moore – ‘Misty Blue’

         7. Tammy Wynette/KLF – ‘Justified & Ancient’

         8. Proclaimers – ‘Sunshine on Leith’

         9. Glasgow Gaelic Choir – (title udecipherable).

         10. Lou Reed – ‘High in the City’

         11. Ray La Montaigne – ‘Trouble’

         12. Elvis – ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’

         13. Michael Chapman – ‘Postcards of Scarborough’

         14. Alabama 5 – “hypo Full of Love’

         15. Tindersticks – ‘Tiny tears’

         16. Cash/Neil Young – ‘Little drummer Boy’

5. ‘Hortus Deliciarum’ Twelfth Century Gregorian Chants by Hidegard von Bingen and Herrard von Landsberg. Performed by Discantus and Brigitte Lesne.


There are a number of categories of found music:

Detritus from low-end street markets.

House clearance.

‘Street Gifts’.


And, I suppose, lost.

I am always slightly amazed when I find this stuff. The ‘dumped’ category seems particularly strange but maybe that is because I hold music (and things) in too much reverence. The category I have called ‘Street Gifts’ is the easiest to understand. Around where I live things are ‘offered’ on the street all the time. It is how I tend to get rid of unwanted objects that I think should not go to charity shops…just leave it out on the pavement and see if anyone wants it. Sometimes people will knock on the door to check that they can really take it. Sometimes I leave a note. Here is an example of a this kind of find with a commentary written at the time:

30. iii. 12

Discarded CDs found in the street last Saturday: (selected from a crate full)

Gong. ‘Planet Gong’.

Pink Floyd. ‘Wish You Were Here’.

Linton Kwesi Johnson. ‘Reggae Greats’.


Gong….I didn’t like them much back at the time of ‘Camembert Electrique’ when we all sat around on the floor in our student flats. But maybe now they could be interesting for their longevity – stuck in some meandering channel of progressive rock out of time and place.

Pink Floyd…There must be someone who would want this and if there are no takers I could always give it to Oxfam.

Linton Kwesi Johnson…This is clearly the record I was ‘looking for’. 5 minutes earlier as I took some rather mundane photographs of blossom I had been singing ‘Inglan is a Bitch’ to myself. That particular track is not on this CD but the co-incidence of finding another album by LKJ is, in itself, uncanny. When I put the CD in my player back at home it was fine on the first two tracks then it began to stick and jump. This is, of course, a problem with found stuff – it is seldom in the ‘VG’ category, let alone ‘mint’. I cleaned this one up a bit and when I put it in the computer it played fine. But it is still a damaged and only partial document, missing as it is, the back cover.


My best find this year was on a Saturday afternoon on Kingsland Waste after the stalls had packed up. This has been fertile territory in the past…but has tended towards things like compilations of the Greatest Hits of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. This day turned up a 7” vinyl disc without its sleeve lying on the tarmac…never a good sign for playability. It is a four tack EP by Jeremy Robson with the Michael Garrick Trio from 1962 called ‘Blues for the Lonely’. Here is Cascades:


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