Monday, January 14, 2013

My First Pop LPs

These are by my reckoning the first albums I bought with my own money (and by "own" I mean my allowance as given to me by my parents). I had plenty of others given to me as birthday and Christmas gifts, but for me to spend cash on something other than comic books, it had to be a pretty big deal. To wit:

There was a brief standoff among the kids in my family over the Osmonds vs. the Jacksons, and deep arguments ensued over who had the better Saturday morning cartoon. Obviously, I was on the Side of Good in this matter (as I continue to be, in all matters).

My older sister owned Night at the Opera, which I loved, and when she got all bossy just because I kept gumming up her copy with fingerprints and schmutz, I went out and bought this (Queen's first album) just so I could have something she wasn't allowed to listen to. Her reaction? "It's not as good as Night at the Opera."

I am obviously not the first person to have been introduced to the Beatles via this 2-volume set, as its recent re-release has people nostalgically clamoring for it. It's okay, and serves as a quick introduction to the group, but yanking the songs out of the context of their respective LPs does them a disservice. Which is nothing compared to the mix -- both this and the "Red" 1962-66 album sound like shit, because apparently some unknown Apple engineer remastered every single track into mindless, sprawling stereo, which pissed off John Lennon to no end (as did the cover, which he had intended for the aborted Get Back LP). As a result, for years I didn't care much for the stereo "Revolution", which I thought was a loud, muddy mess, until I accidentally heard the mono 45, at which point I understood for the first time the difference between the two formats.
Back then, it was just called Star Wars, and it was very dear to me, and thus the soundtrack was well worth shelling out the fifteen bucks or whatever it cost for a double album back then. Aside from the music (and having my name featured prominently on the cover) the most memorable aspects of this LP, my first soundtrack ever, was its sleek, black, reflective surface, the beautiful selection of film stills, and for some reason, the awesomest smell of any new thing I have ever encountered, including brand new cars. It was a bright, powerful, new-plastic aroma (most probably from the black coating) and I found it tremendously intoxicating. It was probably the closest I will ever get to snorting any kind of mind-altering substance, and could be the main reason I became an even weirder kid.
This is a cheat, because it isn't an LP, but it was a compromise between my two main buying habits. There was a lot I didn't like much about this and the Captain America record, which I also bought -- the acting was horrible, the sound effects and music were stupid, the comics they selected to adapt were particularly listless and lame -- but there was a charm about them that I appreciated even at the time.  They featured high-quality paper that was ten times superior to the toilet tissue the original comics were printed on, and they even smelled great (see above). One aspect that drove me crazy was that in order to fit everything onto a 45 the producers whited-out entire balloons of dialogue and replaced them with badly-lettered one or two-worded substitutes that were reflected the edits on the recording. Ah, but whaddaya gonna do. It was fun anyway.

UPDATE: Here you go.

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