(a.k.a. Something for the ladies)
Well, not sure how many females would respond to the vocal charms of Boyz II Men today, but nevertheless they ruled the nineties. One of my very very first CDs, definitely top ten, along with Tevin Campbell (I’m Ready), Mariah Carey (MTV Unplugged), and of course, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Homebase). I remember having early pangs of collector-itis even back then, as the U.S. release of Cooleyhighharmony (which I owned on cassette tape) did not include the Babyface-crafted mega-hit “End of the Road.”
But I picked this album up in a Korean music store for ₩16,000 (the then equivalent of 21 USD) happily since it included the track that, stateside, was only available on the Boomerang soundtrack, which I refused to buy.
Why the original U.S. release did not include the biggest track from the group may remain a mystery to me, but it was finally remedied a few years later with the North American re-release of the album. When it did manage to surface, it did so with a Spanish version of the track “Al Final Del Camino” (seriously) and the English version trundled to the bottom of the playlist.
This is a treasured disc for me, as it holds many memories of middle school and beyond. My brother largely influenced my musical taste; I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that. (He’s not likely to be reading it here, since he’s not one of loyal
four three readers.)
I still have this album, as it thankfully has not become my odd but reasonably consistent one-per-year statistic — that is, one disc lost per year to some strange and unknown circumstances. While it still exists, its age and play count is showing, as there are tiny holes in the data layer that give it pretty frequent reminders of its digital status. Luckily, mass media based digital technology has made the need to go back to the disc much less frequent, as this one won’t play any longer in most reasonably current CD players. But for each hole in this disc, I can fill at least one memory of listening to it on repeat as a kid growing up in an increasingly dramatic world whose soul was filled by the sweet sounds of the kids from Cooley High.
One man’s bad music (Yanni) is another man’s hero (John Coltrane). It’s a reality of taste, bad (Kenny G) or good (Art Tatum). But it’s all good, you can like who you like, and whether or not you like it (and I don’t), we’ve all had The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds in our heads at some point or another.
Regardless, the title of this article is actually to illustrate the counterpoint. There’s really soo much good music out there, waiting to be discovered. Apparently, there’s a treasure of funk 45s buried in stacks in the dying breed of mom n pop record shops all over the country.
A couple of interesting things on my musical radar are pretty safely outside the context of my primary musical interests (Mingus music, for instance). For one, I’ve got my eye on Rick James’ Street Songs. The samples I’ve heard might well be among the best stuff that ever came out of the eighties (not the highest praise, but pretend!).
Also, it seems that every ten years I pick up an album by The Beatles. This decade, I’m eyeing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band, since it just had its fortieth anniversary and all. Plus the cover is ill and was the inspiration for the back cover of a molecular biology textbook!
Maybe if I ever have a record label, I’ll call it Like New Records. Dibs! I love digging. I might not be a DJ, but digging for that golden album in crates and cardboard boxes full of LPs is always a treat. I’ve amassed a small pile of records to play on all of the awful turntables, and my only regret is putting awful needles on my precious vinyl. Talk about scratch.
But I dusted off the old suitcase turntable I have, found a power supply for it that won’t burn the house down, and busted out the Big Band Bossa Nova, a Quincy Jones album I had never fully appreciated until about two hours ago. What changed? Well, my knowledge of Jobim and Gilberto has grown in recent years, and listening to this album with a Mingusified eardrum certainly made me appreciate “Boogie Bossa Nova” that much more.
I also forgot that I owned Joni Mitchell’s hallmark album Blue, among several other LPs including some Fats Waller, W.C. Handy, Soulive, and Al Green’s Greatest Hits. Most of these discs were picked up used for a couple of bucks, though I think I did pay around 12 bucks for the Q.
I will one day hopefully soon break back into the world of hi-fi vinyl, but it’s somewhat an expensive journey that I want to do right. Anyway, unlocking the music from the grooves is something quite special, regardless of the fidelity!
… a.k.a. My Life In A Box. To quote an introduction to Frank Sinatra found within The Box, “A Man And His Music.” One might also find early 90s allusions to Mariah Carey and her album entitled Music Box, which I remember the local radio station, KBXX 97.9 The Boxx used to joke was an album dedicated to their station.
Well, this is my music box, for a man and his music. Among the forgotten herein lies two (!) signed Soulive covers for their 2005 album Break Out, among an unopened hybrid SACD of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, a new copy of Amel Larrieux’s Morning, singles, promos, first editions, ticket stubs, and of course, enough bits of my history to piece together nearly my entire life story.
I have not seen this box in almost a year, a box that I crafted out of cheap pine and Minwax staining a couple of years ago. The whole box project cost me around 40 bucks and several trips to Home Depot and several brain cells of incidental sniffing of polyurethane sealant.
But the true magic lies within the plastic discs who find their home here. There are discs in here I didn’t know I owned. There are discs in here I am surprised I own (Goo Goo Dolls, anyone?). I saw Sister Hazel performing in the math section of a book store this year. Turns out, I have a CD of theirs!
I am excited to go back through here, rediscover old sounds and inevitably hear some new tunes along the way.