It might sound weird that if I’m writing a blog about vinyl I haven’t really bought any in over 30 years. I’ve started changing that over the past few weeks. I’m starting small right now, basically limiting myself to anything under $5 unless it’s something odd that catches my eye and then I’ll go to $10 or so. That $80 Stax pressing of Booker T and the MGs? Going to wait. There is plenty out there to get to before I start looking for collectability. Before I joined the Navy in 1982 I had a largish collection (200 or so) but by the time I got out in 1986 most of it had disappeared. Part of what I’m picking up is replacing what wandered off and part is what I wanted back then but never got round to getting. Or had on 8-Track or cassette. Or things I’m into now that I wasn’t into then. I’m slowly working my way through the Record Store in Howell, NJ and will move on after I’m through there. Maybe hit some flea markets and yard sales when I warms up a bit and I get a better feel for what things are worth now.
Back around 1977 I was listening mainly to Top 40 rock since the only stations I could get in South Jersey were WABC on AM and a new local Rock (sort of) station WJRZ. Even though I had discovered KISS at this point, most of what I was hearing on the radio was the Fleetwood Mac/Steve Miller/Eagles kind of rock. Don’t get me wrong, I still like those bands and come November this year I will have seen them all at least once live. But I was still looking for something harder. I had my own paper route and had some spending money now so like millions of other people decided to join the Columbia House Record Club. For a penny you could order a bunch of records or 8-Tracks from the ad as long as you promised to buy more at full price later. My forward-thinking self chose 8-Tracks. Don’t let me choose stocks either, ok? After choosing some from the bands I was already listening to (“Fly Like an Eagle”, “Endless Summer”, “Frampton Comes Alive”) I still had more to choose and had never heard of most of the other bands at that point. Humble Pie? Joe Walsh? REO Speedwagon? Never heard of them. But I had at least heard of Aerosmith. I had never heard a song but I knew my friend Dave had “Rocks”. So I spent 3 (3!) picks on them. “Toys in the Attic”, “Rocks” and “Draw the Line” joined the list. If I remember correctly The Bay City Rollers was pick 7. Hey, they can’t all be winners.
When the package finally came (allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery) I opened Rocks first. The track order for 8-Tracks was different than the LP version to fit them evenly across the for channels but even then “Combination” was cut in half which sounded weird. The whole album was more raw than anything I’d heard before. Whether it was the Beatles on AM or The Eagles on FM, everything had a polish to it. Not “Rocks”. Other than possibly the lone ballad “Home Tonight” every song had a gritty feel. At this point in my life I had never heard Zeppelin or The Who so my experience was extremely limited. The one song that blew me away however was “Nobody’s Fault”. It was the heaviest track on the album and was the first song that made me get up and play air guitar.