I used to have a big record collection. Used to. And the resurgence of vinyl makes me miss it. Since high school, I collected vinyl records, and had built up a collection of 600-700 samples of the finest in rock, jazz, and heavy metal … and even a few items that would be embarrassing now. I most absolutely did NOT have any Barry Manilow records anywhere near my Iron Maiden records. Nope. In the meantime, since the early 1990s, I had migrated to CD for most newer purchases, particularly in the new age (Tangerine Dream!) and heavy metal realms. But I kept the vinyl around for the older stuff. I dragged five or six of the old wooden record crates from Ohio to Delaware to Washington DC to Bloomington IN and then to Valparaiso. And then it happened – the great Luther Basement Flood of 2003. Or whatever the hell year it was, I don’t remember now. The whole collection went bye bye. I saved some of the actual vinyl discs, but all the covers were ruined. And those vinyl discs weren’t really playable, I just kept them out of stubbornness. Eventually, I upgraded my most favorite artists to CD (Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, Triumph, Journey, etc) but left a lot of bands by the wayside. Today I have no more vinyl, and I certainly will not jump back into the new vinyl fad, where I could pay $35 for a record that cost me $8 – $10 back in the day!
During Fall semester 2016, I started getting nostalgic for bands like Foghat, the Outlaws, and even Wang Chung – bands I used to listen to all the time on vinyl and via my song selections transferred to cassettes for car rides. And I figured since I’ve been paying for Spotify Premium for a while, it was time to put it to use and make lots of playlists. And so here are some random thoughts I’ve had while assembling these playlists since then.
- I used to have all the Foghat albums from the first through (the red one). If anyone had asked me a decade or two ago which was my favorite, I may have said Boogie Motel since it has a couple of my favorite Foghat songs: the title track and Don’t Run Me Down. But Night Shift is the most consistent one all the way through. I don’t think there’s a weak song on that record.
- Wang Chung: Dammit, Points on the Curve is a great album! The soundtrack for To Live and Die in L.A. is good, and you should watch the movie. Other Wang Chung albums aren’t that great all the way through, but some songs are just spectacular – like Tall Trees in a Blue Sky off The Warmer Side of Cool, or even Driving You off their newer one Tazer Up!
- David Gates: remember Bread? Oh, don’t want to admit you liked them? Gates was their singer and had solo albums. And Goodbye Girl is a good album, I don’t care what you say.
- Molly Hatchet: I just love the long double and triple guitar trading in the extended songs, like Fall of the Peacemakers,
- I had no idea Steve Miller’s discography went so far back into the late 60s and early 70s. Interestingly, one of his very early songs contains the same guitar riff he later incorporated into Fly Like and Eagle: it’s called My Dark Hour, on the 1969 album Brave New World.
- Modern Times and Freedom at Point Zero by Jefferson Starship are fantastic rock and roll albums, and make up one of the best one-two punches of consecutive albums I knew of. Winds of Change sort of spoiled that streak though.
- Is there a better live version that jacked up a good studio song into the stratosphere of awesome more than Astronomy by Blue Oyster Cult, off Some Enchanted Evening?
- OK, I’ll say it. My sister Helen is going to hate me. But I prefer most of the Tommy Shaw written Styx songs over the Dennis DeYoung songs.
- I wish I had explored the three pre-Steve Perry Journey albums more back in the day.
- A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering are my favorite Genesis albums. In my younger years it would have been Abacab, my first Genesis album, but now having spent years with the rest things are different. These two are the best mix in between the too-weird early Genesis and the too-poppy later Genesis.
- Eric Carmen is the best Billy Joel that isn’t Billy Joel himself. Try out Haven’t We Come a Long Way, off his best album Change of Heart. And then listen to the title track from Boats Against the Current to get the feels.
- I wrote off Ted Nugent’s output from the 80’s onward, and I wrote off his political views, too. But damn, Penetrator is a great album. Too bad he’s such a douchenozzle and I can’t separate the musician from the vile human being anymore.
- The Outlaws are the best southern rock band that really wanted to be a heavy metal band – particularly Freddy Salem, who wrote lots of their heavier songs. Just try Long Gone or Freedom Walk. They also have great guitar work, although they did not crank it up and out like Molly Hatchet …
- If you are trying to get someone to want to play guitar, Molly Hatchet is the strategy. The extended triple guitar trade-offs that break out at the end of songs like Dreams I’ll Never See, Gator Country, Fall of the Peacemakers are inspiring.
- Albums from which I’ve put every song into a playlist for the artist: Images and Words, by Dream Theater.
- I stopped following Kiss after the Dynasty years, although I did nab the album (Hot in the Shade) with the Michael Bolton-written song (Forever) on it. Meh. But now going through the more “recent output, Carnival of Souls is a really strong album. I like the raw sound.
- Fleetwood Mac: I owned Rumors at one point. And it turns out that Fleetwood Mac only had two albums I like to hear overall, their self-titled album and Rumors … although, some of the older records had some highlights on them, mostly because I was always a fan of Bob Welch, and it was good to hear his voice from an unexpected source.
(to be continued / expanded? Maybe I’ll go back and include more YouTube links, diving into the YouTube vortex is always fun…)