Sunday, August 11, 2013

Plastic Fantastic

Today Dave and I put in one last morning of cleaning out the house I grew up in prior to getting it ready to sell. Mom moved into a retirement community back around New Year's, and we have been slowly working on the old house; going through 46 years of accumulated...stuff. I don't think Mom ever threw anything away, which is both a curse (generally) and a blessing (in some cases).

Layla..., Yesterdays, and Days of Future Passed
One last salvage from the family homestead for me today was my teenage collection of a hundred and fifty or so vinyl LPs. Twelve and a half inch 33 1/3 RPM plastic/vinyl discs that my children have no idea what they are looking at. Music. Like CDs, only bigger. Not like iPod music at all. Nor 8-tracks or cassette tapes. Also none of which my kids would have any idea about. I don't have anything to play these albums on (yet), but it sure was fun to look through them. Memories came flooding back as I sorted through them and cleaned them up tonight. Some conjured up specific people, some places, some events. Bittersweet in some cases, but all good.

Keeping in mind that I would have begun buying albums in about 1980 (when I actually would have begun having a little money from cutting lawns etc) and would have stopped around 1986/87 upon the 1986 Christmas gift receipt of my very first CD player and very first CD. [As an aside this was a Sony player and the first disc was a Steve Winwood solo one (the one with Higher Love)...from my then girlfriend and future wife]. So this is an interesting time capsule of what I liked in a fairly brief window in time, both in terms of buying new and tracking down used at such places as the presumably long-defunct Plastic Fantastic store in Ardmore. Remember this was long before eBay and the like....

One thing this served to confirm was that my musical tastes in terms of what I liked back then hasn't changed dramatically. My favorites then are largely still favorites now. The things I knew I would find included:
  • The definitive Moody Blues collection including pretty much all the solo albums that the various band members ever put out. If there were different covers for some albums, I have them all. I distinctly remember hunting down the older original versions of the album jackets that were the fold-open ones with additional artwork and lyrics.
  • Lots of Yes, again including solo albums from Howe, Anderson and Squire.
  • Complete Dire Straits, including some Knopfler movie soundtrack albums and some EP and large format (album sized) singles.
  • Lots of Eric Clapton, in all incarnations, again including a few soundtrack things such as Edge of Darkness, a BBC miniseries if I remember correctly.
  • About a dozen John Denver albums. Liking John Denver wasn't at all cool back in the day, but I always did (even if not bragging about it). He was a tremendous singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist, and I remember being upset the day I heard he died in a "build it yourself" microlite plane crash over the Pacific Ocean near Catalina. As I think I have written before, a John Denver concert at the old Spectrum was the first concert I ever saw; Dad took me sometime around 1980 because he knew that I liked him.
  • A scattering of albums by Springsteen, the Beatles, Van Halen, and the Eagles
  • I knew I owned some Emerson Lake and Palmer, REO Speedwagon, Blue Oyster Cult and Supertramp. But I had more of each of these than I thought. Likewise the Alan Parsons Project.
  • I probably have more Chris DeBurgh albums than anybody outside of his own family. And perhaps even more than them. I know I tracked down everything he had done to that point. He is a wonderful Irish songwriter and storyteller, an old time balladeer. This compulsion came after seeing him as the opening act for an Asia show in 1983, never having heard of him before but having loved his performance. There are also all 3 Asia albums (to that point).
  • Several Simon and Garfunkel.
  • Some Steve Winwood, including a Traffic album.
  • Several Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty albums.
Hollies, Byrds, Four Tops and Billy Squier
There were some things I wouldn't necessarily have been able to list ahead of time, but felt like old friends on seeing them again. Stuff by the Hollies, the Byrds, the Guess Who, and Crosby Stills and Nash. A couple of Billy Squier albums, including a wonderful album Don't Say No, which includes one of my favorite angst songs, "Nobody Knows".

There were some cool things that I had forgotten about. Greatest hits albums from some Motown groups like the Drifters and the Four Tops. Greatest Hits of Diana Ross. Several Doobie Brothers. The J Geils Band ("Centerfold"), the Police, a few ZZ Top. A couple Robert Plant solo albums. Jimmy Page with the Firm.

There were 25 or so classical albums, mainly recordings by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by either  Eugene Ormandy or Ricardo Muti. These are mainly Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Dvorak.

A few things made me smile when I saw them as being...shall we say...out of character for me. Duran Duran's Rio. An Ozzy Osbourne solo album. A Mister Mister Euro-trash album. Yikes. A Foreigner. A Kinks. The Doors Greatest Hits.

And there were a few things that made me laugh out loud (or groan and blame on the wife). One album each by Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Madonna (her very first), and Bananarama. OK, I'll fess up to the first two, vehemently deny the Madonna, and am unsure about the last one although, yeah, it was probably me... I may have had a Bangles album at one point too.

There are some notable bands that I liked but did not own at all, primarily because Dave owned them all, therefore they were available to be listened to without me buying something that was already in the house. The two primary bands would be Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. Dave also had some Queen and the Who, not favorites of mine. There was some Styx around the house that I think was his. And I know I had a couple of Kansas albums but they are not in this bunch. Oh well.

So while Dave and I have had more than our share of moments recently cursing the fact that Mom and Dad never threw anything away, I can be thankful that my childhood record collection survived almost 30 years in their house after I moved out.

Now I just need to buy something I can play all this great music on...

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