Led boots.

Note to self: In my next life, one of the things I’m going to do differently is put a small sticker on the cover of every LP I buy, with the date that I bought it (and maybe the place, also.) It would be fun to look back at all these slabs of vinyl and remember how old I was and where I was when they were new and unknown and exciting.

A great many of them came home during my high school and college years from a shop in the Rochester suburbs called first Fantasy Records, then Fantastic Records. Presumably the name change followed some notice of estoppel from the Bay Area record label that was home to Vince Guaraldi and Creedence Clearwater Revival. That story sounds familiar, but I can’t remember at some distance whether I actually heard it back in the day, or just assumed it. (The shop is long gone.)

They had a $1 bin and a generous attitude toward stocking it, at least in terms of big famous major-label warhorse albums. The thrifty record buyer could Rumours and Aqualung and KISS Alive! and The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle there to their heart’s content.

A fair amount of my Jeff Beck holdings came out of that bin. Like Beck Bogert & Appice, a truly, truly dreadful record in its blandness and its competence. A wet pillow of an album. Traded that one back in long ago.

I’m fairly sure my twofer of Truth and Beck-Ola, Beck’s first two solo albums, was a dollar-bin job as well … simply because the cardboard is well-worn and I sure didn’t put all that wear on it. Truth is worth hearing once when you’re 14 or 15 and heavy British blues-rock still sounds interesting to you. Beck-Ola, with its two Elvis covers, isn’t.

Blow by Blow came either from Fantasy/Fantastic, or possibly a few years later from In Your Ear! on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston — also recently closed. That was better than the others, smooth and polished, but I never actually found myself putting it on very often.

The Beck album that’s gotten the most play and the greatest esteem in my collection is Wired, the second of the three successful studio albums Beck released between 1975 and 1980. (Blow by Blow was the first; There & Back, which I never picked up, was the last.)

I know Wired was a Fantasy/Fantastic purchase, dating back to roughly junior year of high school or even sophomore year. I’m fairly certain I bought my copy new in the plastic wrapper, which I didn’t do very often.

I’m not sure what it was about Beck or Wired that inspired me to plunk down the extra $3.99, or whatever the cost was. Wired has justified the extra expense, though. Alone among Beck’s albums, I still take it out all these years later and play it from time to time.

(Of course it got taped onto cassette, and as I recall, the cassette got a decent amount of play. A few years ago I still could have told you what I put on the other side of the tape. For years I associated random albums with each other, simply because they entered my collection at the same time and ended up on either side of a cassette for the car. My cassettes went out to the landfill some years ago, and those old associations are fading in my mind.)

It’s not a great or essential album. Outside of Beck’s languid cover of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” Wired is pretty much straight fuzak … instrumental music for weather reports or for driving a sports car around Los Angeles.

But, not every record you listen to is required to take off the top of your head and force you to contemplate man’s inhumanity to man. Pleasant, familiar, unchallenging sound will suffice, sometimes. I think anyone who is into music has some songs and albums that are the equivalent of well-worn sweatshirts, and Wired is among mine.

I wonder when it was that I first peeled off the plastic wrap … when the comfy sweatshirt was new, so to speak.

2 thoughts on “Led boots.

    1. I saw him described somewhere as a “technician,” which is a pretty good summary. Great guitar player, but didn’t really write, couldn’t really sing, and didn’t form productive long-term alliances with people who could.

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