Above is a screenshot of the Twitter conversation that spawned today's blog post. Having never really listened to Hot Club de Paris, I can't express much of an opinion on them, but what I can do is take a look at my own library and think about which back catalogues I would happily gobble up in the space of an afternoon.
R.E.M. were my obvious first thought, and while they do have a rack-flexing fifteen albums* to get through, I'm not sure it would be all that challenging. That said, if we assume that I have to listen to all the albums in the order they were released, I would probably start losing interest in R.E.M. around the turn of the millennium. I think Reveal and Around the Sun get more criticism than they deserve, but considering what came before (not to mention how long I'd have been listening by the time Reveal came on), I think the chances of me turning off at The Lifting would be pretty high.
So I tried to think of bands with slightly slimmer discographies**, but the recurring problem is that one album that isn't as good as the others. Mansun have Little Kix. Guillemots have Walk the River, which is mind-blowingly amazing at times but does drag a little in the middle. Regular readers will already know where I would call it quits in an Arcade Fire marathon.
And then I realised that I'd known the answer all along. Eels didn't initially strike me as a particularly binge-friendly band; they average about 14 tracks per album***, and I was looking for lean, mean, bite-sized records that I wouldn't get bogged down in.
But yesterday, I listened to Shootenanny!, Beautiful Freak, Souljacker, Blinking Lights & Other Revelations, and Wonderful, Glorious all in one go, and I wasn't bored once. That's got to be at least four and a half hours of music (let's not forget that Blinking Lights... is a double album), and I never even considered switching it off. And while that admittedly isn't the order they came out in, it's not like I was only listening to the cream of the Eels catalogue; Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies of the Galaxy are E's twin masterpieces as far as I'm concerned, and I didn't even need to resort to them!
I think it's because each Eels release has such a unique, distinct personality. Souljacker is the fuzzy garage rock one. Beautiful Freak is the weird debut. Blinking Lights is the aural equivalent of an autobiography. They've all got their thing; the same could be said of R.E.M. albums up until about the mid-noughties, but Eels have yet to release their Around the Sun. Even E's less brilliant albums remain fun and colourful, adding another layer to the discography as a whole.
So if you've got some time this weekend, treat yourself to an Eelathon. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have the time of your life.
*I'm not counting best ofs, live albums, B-side compilations, or EPs. Full-length studio albums only.
**Although I decided that less than three albums would hardly count as a 'binge'.
***And it's only that low if you count Blinking Lights & Other Revelations as two.