Tracks In The Dust

A Father's Advice About Learning the Mission of Life

Archive for the tag “Record Albums”

Do You Remember Your First Record Album?

There is such an eclectic bunch of music going on in my head these days. I have been reflecting back on those days when I got my first “record player” and then again when I got my first stereo record player.

Favoite Music

When I was a kid, I resorted to using my parent’s HI-fi console, complete with cloth covered speakers and walnut finish…and a spindle turntable with a drop down function that would allow you to play  a number of 33 rpm vinyl records or with the adapter it would accept 45 rpm singles too. The sound was just incredible for its day (nothing like now of course). Once the tubes warmed, up it was a great way to blast the 15 watts of power I’d guess it had.

So I remember firsts with albums based on what it was played on.

On my parents console;  “Introducing the Beatles” on Vee Jay records got worn out by the needle before I got a new copy. It was just the greatest album I had ever heard. Even remember begging my dad to loan me the money (under $4) to buy it at the local department store.

My first record player was all plastic, all in one portable player with 2 speakers ( but mono I think). When I got it I was certainly special to me. I shudder to think that anything would last long with the wear and tear the turntable would have likely induced. “The Monkees” first LP was introduced to my new portable plastic dream!

My first stereo was actually a hand-me down from my brother, but certainly welcomed as it was very “stereophonic” set, entrenched in my own room. A Zenith brand all in one system with separate speakers that fired upward with a cone-shaped thing above them to distribute the sound. The important thing with that was that was also the first time I owned “headphones” (take that Beats). The White Album by the Beatles became a favorite that Christmas season and I fondly remember the headphones making  semi-permanent marks in my skull.

When I finally had a job of my own I invested in my first “real” stereo system, after shopping carefully and deciding I was never going to be able to actually afford the McIntosh equipment I fell in love with at the Hi-Fi Fo Fum, I did get my JVC amplifier and tuner and a great turntable from Technics (I wish I had- it was totally manual with a weighted platter- just what the DJ’s use today). The EPI bass reflex speakers helped to make “Pink Floyd” Dark Side of the Moon one of the frequent players. That system ended up fueling many house parties in the future before its retirement.

So I do remember my first record album, but I also recall the equipment that made it such.

Technically my first album I owned was probably a Perry Como album. But later in life, with 1000’s of LPs later, I fondly remember the music and the times.

What is your first recollection?

The Music and the Album Experience

I have always loved music. From as far back as I can remember I had something in my life that would play music. A portable radio (they called them “transistor” radios for a while), a record player, a boombox, a Walkman, a CD Walkman, an I Pod and a smartphone.  I always loved my stereo system ( because at one time they had mono systems I guess). There was always music playing around me. In the background, in the foreground 🙂  in the car, at the beach near our house, at friends houses, parties, late night on the back porch.

There was one thing that really changed how I listened to music and made the difference on what I listen to today. I will show my age by saying this but for a while in time the “record album” was part of a renaissance of modern music that made listening to an artist or group different from before. It wasn’t just about one song (although that may be one of the reasons to listen to the album), it was about the complete experience of understanding the artists and their music and the atmosphere it brought when you would play several songs in a row by the same artists. Sort of why they called it an “LP” – long play record.

Since it was hard to skip through/scan through songs on a record without picking up the needle (amazing a sharp little thing that scraped along a groove in plastic), it was easier just to let the “side” play. One half of the album would play out its 4 or 5 selections  and you would listen. And somewhere along that time you would get to know the artist better, and actually appreciate the songs that weren’t likely the hit-single playing on the radio. In some cases they all folded together into something that felt more like a drawing or painting of a mood.

And even now, as I scan through songs on the Internet or program selections or shuffle a playlist I still stop to wonder about those “other” songs. The one or two I missed because they were part of a more complete picture in sound. I could even get nostalgic about how the album cover and art were part of the experience. Don’t get me started about those albums that would include the words to the songs, or “liner” notes from fellow musicians who wanted to speak to the listener about their heroes and peers.  

I am too much in a hurry now to sit through a whole album (or at least one side). Sometimes when a song doesn’t grab me in the first 10 seconds I hit the forward button and go on. Letting songs pass by without a passing thought.

Don’t get me wrong. Theres something to be said for technology allowing us to experience new and different artists online, streaming or downloading musicians  you may never have heard before – when record companies had to pick and choose for you. But that album from the artist that fought their way to the label had character as a “physical thing” to be collected, and replayed and shared with friends as an experience.

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