Wednesday, March 09, 2005

In my room.

The Records that Changed My Life

Apologies to Spin and Kicker of Elves over at, but imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery.

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

The more musical memoirs I read the more I realize I was a wierd early adopter. Yes, much of my taste didn't set in until teenagedom (Note with one exception below I didn't have an older sibling/friend who introduced me to cool stuff), but there were certain records I got and got young: namely The Beatles and the Philly sound of Gamble and Huff (see below). At age 4, I asked my Mom to take me to see Yellow Submarine and on the way home I discoursed on its philosophy. The first Beatles record I owned was this most famous one which I wore out. I have now owned three vinyl and one CD copy of this album which I have come to agree with Jim DeRogatis now as being overrated. Still much of this disc spoke to me as a child and in strange ways. I particularly loved "She's Leaving Home," though I would have never considered myself an unhappy child nor one who contemplated running away. Perhaps its inherent melancholia predicted my undergraduate interest in Robert Burton and the Early Modern era and my eventual employment as a Shakespeare scholar. "Picture yourself on a boat in a river . . ." "And now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall" and on and on . . .

Freda Payne, "Band of Gold"
The O'Jays, "Backstabbers"
The Three Degrees, 'When Will I See You Again?"
Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, "If You Don't Know Me By Now"

Ah yes, the 7" single; the first musical format of my dreams. For much of the 1970s, these were primarly what I bought. The first I ever owned wasn't a bad one, The Jackson 5's "ABC" received in one of those exchange gifts things in grade school. However, I will also admit to still having the following in my "little" vinyl collection: Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight"; Orleans, "Still the One"; Cate Bros., "Union Man"; Player, "Baby Come Back"; England Dan and John Ford Coley, "Nights are Forever Without You"; Abba, "Mama Mia" and "Dancing Queen"; Madonna, "Into the Groove"; Hall and Oates, "Sara Smile"; Silver Convention, "Fly Robing Fly"; Andrea True Conenction, "More, More, More"; Maxine Nightingale, "Right Back Where We Started From"; Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band, "A Fifth of Beethoven": and Wild Cherry, "Play That Funky Music White Boy"! You just need to remember how dominant, even as a radio phenomenon, disco was.

I have written about my love of the Payne single elsehwere, but I want to generalize it to the early 1970s Philly Sound of Gamble & Huff. "Backstabbers" is the third single which always figures in my list of top songs/records along with Freda Payne and the Clash (see forthcoming entry "A new england."). The above list features my three favorite Gamble and Huff records, but there are so many more to choose from. Remember the best singing Teddy Pendergrass ever did was as soloist in Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes! These records were famed for their use of strings, the backing band MFSB and its horns, and the proto-disco drumbeats. It was also some of the first black music to have an obvious political slant leading to records like What's Goin' on and "Ball of Confusion."

The Beach Boys, Endless Summer

I'm an only child and never had that older sibling or friend who hipped me to new music, as I have alread mentioned. Closest I got was a babysitter who was really into Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic. I can stand Can't Buy a Thrill, especially "Midnight Cruiser" and "Do It Again," but generally Becker and Fagen leave me ice cold. A few years later I rode to swim team practice with Hugh, who was really into the Beach Boys and played them on his 8-Track constantly. I really dug those tight harmonies and the irresistible melodic hooks of Brian Wilson. Forget Smile; this double album compilation is where it's at with respect to that California sound. In seventh grade, I got to see The Beach Boys at Florida Field with opening band, The Outlaws. That's a story for another day.

Coming soon two additional entries

9/81-8/85: The Cambridge, MA college years and 1985-6 dateline: York, UK, and

Bay Area and Starkvegas life changers.

1 comment:

gorjus said...

"When Will I See You Again" is just devastating. And I totally agree with you about "Band of Gold," too.