Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fall 1982: My Last Grasp of Vinyl

I'm sure that I enjoyed music more when I was poor.

When I had to save up for an album, or wait until it was a gift to me on my birthday or Christmas, it meant more.

And saving up to get an album when I was a broke 18-year-old idiot between attempts at college meant that at least I'd play the cassette in my car a bunch of times and, so, the tunes would soak in a bit more than they do now.

Now, I play something once or twice all the way through and end up never playing it again, or just putting select songs on mixes later.

So, on the way to work yesterday, "Points of View" by Squeeze came up on a mix CD in the car.

I know that the album the song is from -- Sweets From A Stranger (1982) -- is not the band's best work by any stretch of the imagination but it sounded pretty good to me in 1982 when I was 15.

That fall, I sold off my comic book collection in an attempt to be less of a nerd.

And, for a few months, I clung to my records and 8-tracks (!) before finally joining the cassette revolution and getting a boombox for my 16th birthday in March 1983.

I got Sweets From A Stranger (1982) from my biological father. He was in some record club and had bonus points, or something.

It was the first Squeeze album I ever owned and it's worth noting that the first two cassettes I got when buying that boombox were East Side Story (1981) from Squeeze and Imperial Bedroom (1982) from Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

I was reading Creem and Trouser Press in 10th grade and it felt like I was reading more about bands than hearing them. This was also near the time that I was alerted to WHFS at their old location on the radio dial, before they occupied 99.1 FM for a few decades in the D.C. area.

So, it was always a risk to get an album with my money, or someone else's. I would read the reviews and weigh the risk. I think I must have heard enough good things about Squeeze by then to want to take the chance on their newest album.

Surely, I had heard earlier hit "Tempted" on the radio.

(My county didn't have cable yet so MTV was not something I could rely on.)

I think in late 1981/early 1982 my dad had gotten me Waiata (aka Corroboree) (1981) by Split Enz and I loved that album.

(Heck, I still play it quite a bit!)

So the success of my Split Enz gamble probably made me take a chance on the Squeeze album.

That fall of 1982, before I got that boombox, I got record albums of The Who's Who's Next (1971) and Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (1970), as well as The Clash's Combat Rock (1982) all on the same day with some of the money from the sale of my comic book collection.

I also got Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) that Christmas and it somehow sounded better on vinyl when looking at that awesome cover and foldout sleeve.

(That's the only time I'm ever going to say that something sounded better on vinyl!)

As for the boombox, early on I also got Rio (1982) by Duran Duran which I immediately disliked despite liking the singles.

And I got Adam Ant's Friend or Foe (1982) which was also a disappointment for a 15-year-old who loved the earlier Adam and the Ants stuff.

(Check out the 15-year-old me rocking an Adam and the Ants t-shirt! I show this picture because I have no shame and I'm a bit pleased with myself that I had the nerve to wear such a shirt in my high school. You can sell the comics and lose weight, but you're still a nerd!)

I am also proud to say that I had the one-LP version of XTC's English Settlement (1982) on cassette near that time, having worn out my LP copy of 1980's Black Sea already.

Anyway, here's the song that started yesterday's trip down memory lane.

I love the way Glen Tilbrook enunciates the words "She's exciting and I'm uninvited..."