Wednesday, July 7, 2010

That dusty old box of vinyl records

Every September, our department goes to a state park for a week of Every year is a different theme. Some of our themes have been centered around sports, old TV shows, movies, game shows, and a cruise ship.

This year, I'll be attending my 14th edition of these things, and I am pretty much over it. But I give full marks to the handful of folks charged with planning and executing the week. They do a helluva job with a limited budget and a ton of creativity and resourcefulness. They can't get 140 people to enjoy the same food menu - much less make them happy with training choices and themes.

The theme for this fall apparently involves music. We've all been required...cajoled...requested to introduce ourselves to the rest of our co-workers via a video about our favorite band, first concert, memorable song, etc.

I went old school and dug out some vinyl LPs from deep in the dark corners of my closet. Trolling through those old albums reminded of Todd Snider's great song Vinyl Records:

At the risk of spoiling the surprise to any co-workers reading this entry, I'll refrain from mentioning my featured albums, songs, concert experiences, etc. at this time. In digging through my LPs, however, I found some interesting but somewhat forgotten albums. Because the box was open and my camera was nearby, it seemed only appropriate to share I care...about you.

How about this winner? Elvis sings Flaming Star. They say 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong, so I'm hoping they all will agree with me that this LP likely really sucked. I'm not sure if you can tell or not, but it looks like I used a blue pencil to give the King some evil eyebrows and a pencil-thin mustache/goatee combo. I'm not sure why I would have done that...unless the LP really sucked...which it probably did.

Pat Travers - Crash and Burn. This one caught my eye simply because I've seen some bootlegs of the band surface recently.

I'm pretty sure I bought this one at the time because of the single Snorting Whiskey (and Drinking Cocaine). Just the whole sound of it sounded cool and rebellious to me - much more so than the simplicity of Clapton's one-word Cocaine. (Disclaimer: For the record, I've neither snorted whiskey nor drank cocaine. A long weekend with Schaefer beer? Well, that's a different discussion altogether.) That was a great southern rock hit back in the day - and it remains so today mainly because its not nearly as overplayed as the obvious ones by Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, The Allman Brothers, etc.

Night Ranger - Midnight Madness. I bought their debut, Dawn Patrol, on cassette tape because I liked a couple of cuts and because they opened for KISS. Figured if they were good enough to open for Gene and the boys, then they deserved $7 of my high school earnings. I should have stopped there, but instead I bought their follow-up on vinyl.

What caused me to pull this album out of the box and blog my embarrassment was the sticker still on the protective plastic wrap. In my youth, KDF 103.3 was the rock station of Nashville. None could touch it. Great music. Great radio personalities. Chatty Patty Murray - man oh man, did she have a sultry voice to excite every young male in middle Tennessee. (Until you had the chance to meet her in person and realize dejectedly that her voice was about her most thrilling asset.)

From the mid 70s through about the mid 80s, just about every young person's car either had this decal in the back window or had a similar license plate on the front.

My first ride was a 1965 Dodge Dart given to me by my grandmother. First thing that went in it? A Craig AM/FM/cassette stero. The second modification? Applying my right-of-passage KDF sticker to the rear glass.

About a decade or so ago, the station's format changed to country. Boring country. Stale country. Hat-act country. Useless "personalities". The end of KDF for me...forever.

Roger Miller - Golden Hits. This perhaps was the one album my father had that I appreciated at the time. Over time, I've learned to appreciate the significance of many others he had such as Cash, Roy Orbison, Hank Sr., Charlie Pride, Sam the Sham & The Pharohs, etc. But with Roger Miller - I got it. I loved when he played this album on his Zenith stereo, and I got my own copy in high school when I got my own stereo. As an adult, I've replaced it with a 3 CD set of Miller's greatest hits.

Jason & The Scorchers - Lost and Found. A college roommate introduced me to The Scorchers. Because of my clinging to my fading interest in arena rock bands, I missed Jason & The Nashville Scorchers (as they were originally named). But my roommate got my attention quickly when he played songs such as Broken Whiskey Glass and Harvest Moon. Pretty soon I had to claim my own copy rather than bum a listen of his.

College life in the dorm my freshman year got me into a lot of Bocephus, Hag, David Allan Coe, etc. I bought Waylon & Company in my university bookstore because it featured some great duets between Waylon and artists such as Hank Jr., Emmylou, and Jerry Reed.

After college, I moved to Chattanooga, TN and quickly became a frequent Friday night visitor to Yesterday's - a long-since-gone club featuring primarily cover bands. Occasionally, regional bands with their own songs such as Mobius Strip and The Hammerheads played the place. And a Chattanooga original - 37 Targetz - packed the house when they played. Their cover of June Carter's Ring of Fire won MTV's Basement Tapes. This is one album I'd really like to convert to digital. Anyone wanna loan me one of those USB-powered turntables?

I'll close with a couple of oddities. First, Meet Richard Petty. Yes, this was a Petty-narrated album from 1970 accompanied by about a 20-page booklet of various pictures. I ordered it from Darlington Speedway in the late 1970s. I still have the booklet to go with it.

The final one I laughed at when I spotted it was a recording of my high school concert band. Living in Nashville, there is only about one or two degrees of separation between you and someone in the music business. One of our band parents - no recollection of whom - likely was at the second degree and had one of our concerts pressed to vinyl.

We didn't sell a half-million copies to earn Gold record status. Matter of fact, I'm willing to bet we didn't sell any. I think they were just given us as souvenirs from a proud band parent. So while we didn't earn gold, I am the proud owner of an old yeller LP.

This trip through my platters was fun. Maybe next I'll tackle my two to three hundred cassettes to see what interesting things surface.



  1. Nice post! That was fun! Some of those records are amazing.

  2. I have been looking for my copy of "Flaming Star". Now I know what happened to it.

  3. You should hang on to that Night Ranger album. I know they're going to make a comeback.

    So true about KDF. It was the epitome of cool. It was one of the things I looked forward to when I moved to Nashville, but it changed almost as soon as I got there.....

  4. You can't roller skate into a buffalo herd? Well, NOW you tell me...

  5. That is really interesting! Well, I got hooked with your Elvis sings Flaming Star. I literally laughed out loud with how you described it. Haha! But at least, you have it on your collection, which is great. :)

    Ruby Badcoe