These last few months of lockdown have certainly resulted in changes for many of us. Not being able to see family and friends, our homes have become our work places and schools for our children, not being able to go to gigs, festivals and record shops; postponing events such as weddings and holidays. In the grand scheme of life and the universe these are small sacrifices and generations before us have had to sacrifice far more, however, it has undoubtedly been a big change for the majority of us who are so used to certain routines, making plans and having the freedom to come and go as we please. As the weeks and months have gone on, this period of lockdown has given us a lot to be grateful for and reminded us that the most important thing we have is time. This period has made us all slow down and appreciate everything we have around us. This pleasure and acknowledgment of time is certainly changing the way that people have been consuming music during this period. The world is once again returning to the album. Listeners are moving away from individual songs and playlists and taking the time to listen to an album from start to finish, appreciating the work that went into creating this art form. Tim Burgess has played a blinder here, bringing people together during lockdown through his ‘Tim’s Listening Parties’ on Twitter. These parties have been a major part of people’s lives during these past months. The idea is simple, everyone drops the needle / presses play on a chosen album at the same time, follows the Twitter hashtag and indulges in the memories and tales behind the album from those that were involved. The initial intention was one album a day starting at 10pm, the time when people usually watch the news. Therefore getting people to switch off from the news and use these listening parties as a form of escapism. These parties have grown into three albums a day on weekdays and five on a weekend, and there have been over 200 listening parties. Many of the people listening and getting involved would have likely been spending their evenings at a gig. These online get-togethers have given people something to look forward to and provide a source of inspiration. They have also reminded us how special an album really is. It is the narrative behind an album, the memories that go with it, the journeys that were taken to make these albums. What you get from an album can never be found in a playlist or an individual song. Take Sergeant Pepper, Definitely Maybe, Up the Bracket as three examples. If every song on those albums were released as individual singles over a twelve month period would they have had the same effect? Of course not. It is only when you group those songs together as one, binding them with romance and narrative on an album, that you get that special piece of art that you will love and cherish for a life time and that will change the way that you see the world. Through engaging in Tim’s Listening Parties we have been able to get an insight into many albums that we would not have had before. It has been an absolute joy seeing Dave Rowntree share some intimate moments around the recording of Parklife. Early gig posters, the photos of those studio recordings, handwritten lyrics, memories from what looked like Dave’s scrapbook of the time, learning how the smashing sound we hear on Parklife is Dave smashing a plate just after he had finished his dinner. All of these memories further highlight the importance of an album, it is about the journey that a band and those close to them go on together. Reading The Libertines share memories of Up The Bracket summed up that time perfectly and just how life changing those twelve songs were. This is an album that defined a generation and has gone on to inspire a whole new generation of people to form a band. The memories being shared and the emotion during this listening party showed how much this record meant to those involved and how much Pete, Carl, Gary and Jon all really enjoyed listening to this record together again. The Cribs have also been another highlight for me during these listening parties. It might just be that I have so many great memories of those times but seeing the photos shared by The Cribs and the stories of their time on the road made what we went through during that time real and reminded me just how much these bands meant to us, not that we ever really forgot. I laughed at the fact that The Cribs shared that the NME gave The New Fellas 10/10 but marked it down to 8/10 in the editorial. Come on, we all know this album is a 10. You can follow along to all of the previous listening parties if you head over to https://timstwitterlisteningparty.com/pages/replay.html, put the record on, press play on CD / Tape or streaming service and allow the tweets to follow in real time. Listening to an album can also be a solitary experience and to have this option available means so much. These parties can be used as a way to find new gems. We have all bought an album at times following a recommendation from a friend, a member of staff behind the record store counter, a journalist you trust, and these parties can be used in a similar way. If there is a record on there you have not heard of before just hit play, sit back and fall in love. This happened to me when I hit play on the album Stranger Today by Our Girl. The album came out in 2018 and did not enter my radar, but within three songs of this listening party I headed straight to Our Girl Bandcamp page and placed an order for the album. I hope that when this time is over, the world will come out of it in a much better place and this reignited love for the album will continue. The album has always meant so much to me in my life. It is about the physical entity, being able to hold it and own it, be it on vinyl, taking the record out of its sleeve, appreciating the thought behind the running order as you play side A and side B, CD or tape; the physical form means so much. As does looking at the artwork, reading the sleeve notes, the lyrics, the acknowledgements, the record label (come on, I know I am not the only one who does this), it really is everything that goes into an album that’s important. The memories that can be evoked by going into the CD room at home and dusting off an old CD truly is something that I never want to lose. In years from now you are not likely to get that same feeling from reminiscing about a digital playlist or an mp3 file. I don’t imagine books/articles are going to be written about the 50 greatest playlists of all time or the greatest song shuffle of all time. It should not have taken a pandemic for the world to appreciate the relatively simple concept of time. It truly is precious, please appreciate everything we have. Continue to slow the pace of life down, take the time to enjoy the world around you and please don’t ask Alexa to play the next song, press play on an album and allow it to entertain you from start to finish.