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What I didn’t get.

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At some point soon I’ll fill you in on what I picked up earlier today, when I went vinyl-shopping for the first time in lit’rally years.

(It was a hoot; I picked up about 10 albums for $10.07. The damage could have been much worse.)

Instead I’ll write about the stuff I didn’t buy that sticks in my head, the way things manage to do even when you’ve pawed through hundreds of records.

Chuck Mangione, Fun and Games: Skipped right past this one in the 50-cent bin. Probably should have considered it, as it has Chuck’s 1980 Winter Olympics theme tune, “Give It All You Got.” Also contains a song called “Pina Colada,” which I know nothing of but sounds like it might contain the distilled essence of 1979. Speaking of which …

Rupert Holmes, Partners in Crime: I like “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and “Him” well enough, as turn-of-the-decade earworms go, so I’ve wondered what a full LP of Rupert Holmes would sound like.

I took out the inner sleeve today (also in the 50-cent bin), read some of his lyrics, decided his writing wasn’t that enthralling, and put it back. But I still sorta wonder, in a reduced way, what a full LP of Rupert Holmes sounds like.

The Sounds of the 1970 Liberty Grenadiers: I might be fudging the title a little bit. Assuming the cover was accurate, this was a recording of the 1970 edition of the marching band from Liberty High School here in Bethlehem.

Such things must have been popular that year: I have a copy of a similar, locally pressed record that captures my high school’s 1970 concert and jazz bands in action.

I’ve never listened to more than five minutes of that record, and I wouldn’t listen to more than five minutes of the Liberty Grenadiers either. So I have no idea why this record sticks in my head. Just as a local curio, I guess.

The Best of Porter Wagoner, Vol. 2: I’ve concluded that the high points of country music are lost on me.

But I still aspire to appreciate them, at least a little bit. It is quintessentially American music, after all. And my dislike for country is based in part on city-boy (well, suburb-boy) disdain and superiority, which is never a positive personal quality.

There was a raft of ’60s and ’70s country records in the 50-cent bin (Merle Haggard’s I’m A Lonesome Fugitive was another), and I thought I should pick one up and camp out with it and get my arms around my personal Country Problem once and for all.

Maybe some other time.

20 Rockin’ Originals: I don’t actually need a copy of this Fifties compilation album. The excellent American Graffiti soundtrack and a Chuck Berry greatest-hits collection ably fill any need I might have for greasy kid stuff.

No, this one sticks in my head for its cover photo — a “glamour shot” of a blonde with a football jersey and a weird, tongue-lolling, vaguely glassy expression. It made me think of drunken teenage indiscretions, and of high-school football players swapping gossip in the locker room (“Give Carol Ann a glass of wine and she’ll do just about anything.”)

Quickie oldies compilation albums are supposed to make you think of rockin’ good times, not of the complicated psychological needs and weaknesses of teenage football players and the girls who service them. I can’t explain how my mind works, except that it runs some weird routes sometimes.

(Google Images indicates there’s an alternate version of this album cover on which Carol Ann is hiking her football jersey up above rib level — and no, she’s not wearing Under Armour. See, it’s not me inserting the sexual subtext. I’m just a good clean all-American boy who likes crates full of vinyl.)

Ferrante & Teicher Salute Nashville: I’ve riffed on Ferrante & Teicher in the past as the epitome of easy-listening cheese … without actually owning one of their albums or listening to more than 30 seconds of any of their songs. Scarcely seems fair or honest, does it?

If I’m gonna get to know The Grand Twins of the Twin Grands, though, it ain’t gonna be through their Nashville album.

Richard Pryor, That Nigger’s Crazy: Almost bought this one just for the street cred, but it was pretty well worn down.

(There was a classic Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe album there, too, that would have been mine if it didn’t look like Ondrej Nepela had performed his short routine on its vinyl surface.)

The Cash Family Singers: Gospel music has been able to penetrate my godless soul a tiny bit more than country has. A gospel singer who’s really giving it up (as opposed to showboating) hits a particular nerve that’s hard to ignore.

The gospel I’ve heard has all been performed by the best-known acts in the business, so I can’t gauge the odds that a local/small-time gospel group could hit the monkey nerve.

But for 50 cents, I could have found out with any number of records, including this one.

Google does not turn up a Cash Family Singers discography, just a sparse list of references going back 40 years. This record was probably a small-time pressing sold off a merchandise table outside a congregation hall somewhere.

Its mysteries are not for me to uncover.

Not unless I go back …

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4 responses »

  1. Porter Wagoner was quite a big star in his day–lots of hit duets with Dolly Parton and a half-hour TV show that was big in flyover country. That Greatest Hits album includes “The Carroll County Accident,” which is an old-fashioned C&W story song that was a huge hit in 1968. They stopped makin’ em like that a long time ago.

    If you’re going to start listening to country, however, vintage Merle Haggard is a good place to begin.

    Reply
    • Wiki (which is far from unbiased) makes a couple of late-’60s Haggard LPs sound really good.
      It also says Hag released a double album of gospel music in 1971. Now, I oughta find a copy of *that* and listen to nothing else for a couple of weeks.
      That’ll get my mind right.
      Or drive me nuts, one or the other.

      Reply
  2. Brian Rostron

    Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” about parting ways with Porter Wagoner. Was he wearing a Nudie suit on the album cut? I’m not even going to comment about referring to Chuck Berry as greasy kids stuff. Hail, hail, rock n roll!

    Reply

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