Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Filtering by Tag: Vinyl

Record Night Celebrates 1975

After a five month absence, record night returned with a vengeance last Saturday night to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, as five high school classmates converged to celebrate 1975.  For me, ’75 is a bit of an oddball year.  None of the punk and post-punk bands I admire (Graham Parker, The Clash, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, The Police, The Cars, The Knack, The Kings, Off Broadway, Nick Lowe) arrive until another year or two, and some of my prog-rock favorites (Yes, Genesis) are on hiatus that year.  Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones and Heart haven’t put out an album yet, the Rolling Stones are off, and so are Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder.

Nonetheless, there’s a lot of great stuff from the middle of the decade that I most admire, and much of it was unknown to me, which just goes to show you that even five like-minded white middle-class guys can surprise each other once in a while.  My favorite surprises of the evening: Ambrosia and Roxy Music.

Here’s the list (note: a few of these songs were released on LP in ’74 but charted in ’75):

Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stevie Wonder

Magneto and Titanium Man, Wings

Jesus Christ, Big Star

Superstarz, Black Sabbath

Black Diamond, Kiss

Gratitude, Earth, Wind and Fire

She Sells, Roxy Music

Travelin’ Man, Bob Seger

People, People, Tommy Bolin

Lorelei, Styx

Down the Road, Kansas

Running Out of Time, Climax Blues Band

Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

I Don’t Know Why, Rolling Stones

Sexy Thing, Hot Chocolate

Dan Dare, Elton John

Easy Does It, Supertramp

Sister Moonshine, Supertramp

Nice, Nice, Very Nice, Ambrosia

Fame, David Bowie

Across The Universe, David Bowie

Buckets of Rain, Bob Dylan

Mystery Mountain, Journey

Love Roller Coaster, Ohio Players

Nights on Broadway, Bee Gees

Slipkid, The Who

Kojak Columbo, Harry Nilsson

Slow Ride, Foghat

Heard it on the X, ZZ Top

Lady Marmalade, Patti Labelle

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen

Custard Pie, Led Zeppelin

Beggars Day, Nazareth

Please Don’t Judas Me, Nazareth

Ballroom Blitz, Sweet

Wouldn’t You Like It, Bay City Rollers

Now Look, Ron Wood

I’m So Afraid, Fleetwood Mac

The Hard Way, The Kinks

Kung Fu Fighting, Carl Douglas

Do the Hustle, Van McCoy

I Believe in Father Christmas, Greg Lake

Deuce, Kiss

Fountain of Lamneth (part 1), Rush

Never Been Any Reason, Head East

Chevy Van, Sammy Johns

Round and Round, Aerosmith

South’s Gonna Do It Again, Charlie Daniels Band

Have a Good Time, Paul Simon

Ride the Tiger, Jefferson Starship

Something’s Coming’ Up, Barry Manilow

Sister Golden Hair Surprise, America

Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow, Joni Mitchell

Misery, Soul Asylum (a night’s end post-1975 selection)

Girls with Guns, Tommy Shaw (a night’s end post-1975 selection)

Making Music Matter Again - part one

One of my more obnoxious qualities circa 1985 (and there were many) was, upon hearing a song on the radio, reciting the song title, artist, album, year, album side and song number.  So, when a particular song crackled on WQFM, I might say something like, “Goodbye Stranger, Supertramp, Breakfast in America, 1979, side one, third song.” 

It goes without saying that I didn’t date much circa 1985.

At that time in my life, records weren’t just purchased; they were digested.  After all, an LP at K-Mart cost the equivalent of two hours of dishwashing at Seigo’s Japanese Steakhouse – I needed to make the most of my record-buying binges by not only listening to the record, but studying the album’s cover, lyrics and liner-notes.  (One of the biggest disappointments was purchasing a record that came in a blank white sleeve; it diminished the whole listening experience).  Even albums that fell flat initially called for repeated listens, as I forced myself to justify a poor purchase until something redeeming was revealed, and with the exception of Gregg Rollie’s solo LP, I always found something positive to take away from a record purchase.

Today, music can be accessed, purchased, copied and shared with one click, often a song at a time, so the idea of reciting an album side and song number has become an anachronism (and has probably allowed music geeks to land a few more dates).  More importantly, the access to free music has resulted in its devaluation.  Music has become disposable, no more valuable than a paper plate.  Unless you’re talking about sunsets, love and air, that which is free generally has little to no worth.

Recently, I’ve made strides to making music matter again in my life.  There are a number of steps a music lover can take to become more actively engaged in music listening.  Number one: listen to vinyl.

I am not a vinyl snob.  I never got into expensive stereo equipment.  I haven't refrained from purchasing CDs.  I love listening to music on the go.  And the lower quality of compressed music on-line has never been a big deal to me.  I don’t listen to vinyl for the so-called superior sound quality.  I listen to vinyl because I can only do it when I’m in my basement where there’s nothing else to do except listen to the music, and because there’s something magical about placing a needle into the groove of a record – it’s one of those mundane acts that transcends the act itself, forming a link to generations, artists, and eras gone by.

I asked  Chris Ellensohn, co-owner of Cheap Kiss Records in Schaumburg, Illinois, to explain why vinyl matters.  He said it was summed up best by an intern his company hired a few years ago: “I feel like you should have to work a little bit for your music so that it is not taken for granted.”

A good summary, but Chris elaborates more eloquently than I ever could.  “Retrieving the record, carefully removing it from the jacket, cleaning it if necessary, gingerly dropping the needle into the groove, perusing the liner notes as the first strains of that particular band’s attempt at a first impression greet you, are all moments of connection to the artist.  Compare it to a painting by your favorite artist hanging on your wall vs. having a picture of it on your phone.  Having something tangible can make a big difference. 

“The fact that we can hit play on iTunes and shuffle our way to hours of uninterrupted background noise just makes us more removed from the point of musical inception, that moment in time when a fleeting thought fleshed itself out into a melody, harmony and rhythm intended to worm its way into your brain and not let go.”

The idea that we’ve become “more removed from the point of musical inception” resonates in other areas of our lives: the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the furniture we sit on.  Listening to vinyl is akin to growing your own vegetables, building your own bookshelf, or knitting your own sweater.  There’s something pure, perhaps even noble, about listening to music like it truly matters.

Give it a try sometime.  And if you’re in the western ‘burbs of Chicago, come and join Chris and Cheap Kiss Records tonight (March 18) from 6-8PM at Cornerstone Used Books in Villa Park.  They’ll be talking – and spinning – records.  Tonight’s theme: 70s AM Radio Hits.

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved