Monday, June 13, 2011

What the hell has Ralph Tresvant been doing all these years?

A while back I reflected on the first CD I ever purchased but have been thinking today on the first album I ever purchased, in any form. And it's really hard to remember. I wish it was as simple - and cool - as claiming an early Kiss or Van Halen album or some obscure gem appreciated way before its time. Instead, I have the haze of childhood in which a few lousy music purchases stand out, none of them anywhere close to essential to the bedrock of rock-and-roll-history but all of them somewhat fond, mostly embarrassing memories regardless.

The first LP I remember owning that wasn't a child's record purchased for me or that didn't involve R2D2 beeping to indicate it was time to turn the page was Queen's The Game. And I didn't get this one at any retail outlet but instead on a garage sale outing with my grandparents. This same garage sale, by the way, also produced a horrid 8-track cassette of Star Wars songs - but not the original soundtrack. It seems there were lots of knock-offs of those scores in those days and this had to be among the worst of those. Regardless, I bumped the "Cantina Theme" in the Mercury Marquis every chance I got, i.e., every time we drove to Montgomery Ward which, for some damn reason, seemed to happen more frequently than a reasonable person would expect.

The Game (+ Bonus Track)I was in grade school when Flash Gordon was all the rage (among my set, anyway) and the wiser kid in our bunch (and the one with the older brother who fed him his musical knowledge) let us all know Queen did the music and were the same group responsible for "Another One Bites the Dust" which, at that time and at that age, was as badass as I could imagine. I recall playing the hell out of "Another One Bites the Dust" and absolutely ignoring the rest of the Game LP until, tragically, one sunny day I left it in the backseat of the car (why was I taking a record in the car?) and it warped beyond all recognition in the summer heat. My buddy's older brother had a copy of Def Leppard's On Through the Night in his room and I remember asking him why they had such a funny name. "They're so loud, you moron, that their music would make a leopard deaf," was the reply. And it made sense to me, leopards having such strong ears frequently exposed to hard rock music and all.

Under Blue MoonI very distinctly recall the first cassette tape I got a few years later because I got two. My father enrolled in whatever cassette variation of the Columbia House Record Club that existed in the mid-eighties and let me choose two of his introductory selections. Before long I was the proud owner of the Back to the Future soundtrack as well as a copy of New Edition's Under the Blue MoonBack to the Future was, again, the pinnacle of all things popular at the time though, aside from an unfortunate Huey Lewis number (is there any other kind?) or two, I only remember being surprised hearing that this Eric Clapton dude was actually white.  Regarding New Edition, a new neighbor across the street and I were convinced we could be the next vocal sensation and had planned to rip off New Edition's oldies act - as a duo, apparently. Hell, they were basically just Bell Biv Devoe at this point, anyway. That lasted until Red Dawn hit VHS and we spent the remaining free time while we lived near one another training and planning to fight off the inevitable communist invasion. Yet, for some reason, I never owned any soundtrack to Red Dawn. Probably because Huey Lewis was so goddamn liberal.

This same neighbor also prompted the purchase of the only vinyl single I ever bought until I rediscovered vinyl in the early '90s during college. On a visit to our local Heck's store he convinced me that if we only had the "Axel F" theme we could certainly become the next breakdance sensation. So I laid down my allowance for the 7" and we tried. We tried hard. He moved away at summer's end and I was left with an overplayed Harold Faltermeyer single and no desire to breakdance solo (that I would admit though, if necessary, I have moves sufficient to last through both the single and its flipside, "Shoot Out"). To this day no situation has ever come up that has required utilization of all the skills we developed, so well-honed over the course of a couple summers that, when the communists finally do parachute into town, I will be more than ready to stun and subdue them with a combination of doo-wop and windmilling that has heretofore only been known in the Western world.

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