First, a confession. From the time I started to purchase my own music, around 1985 until 1990, when I moved out of my parents’ house, I found myself hiding a lot of what I listened to from them. I knew that some of the recordings that I had developed a liking for – works by Public Enemy, Metallica, Ratt, Iron Maiden, The Cult, 24-7 Spyz, amongst others – would not be approved by my parents, and (as long as I was living under their roof) be effectively banned. So I developed a variety of techniques for concealment – when it came to LP’s and CD’s, I would hide the illicit recordings within the dust jackets / CD cases of the ones that were on the “approved” list. I discarded casette cases as soon as I bought them and hid the tapes themselves in various places. When I wanted to create a mixtape that contained the Bad stuff, I’d sneak down to the living room and use my father’s dual-deck tape recorder late at night or early in the morning, at least until I got my own.
I mention this not to brag about it, but to highlight how big of a deal it was for me when I left home close to my 21st birthday, musically and otherwise. Not having to hide any of the music that I listened to meant that I was free to more fully explore the musical landscapes around me and develop my own personal tastes and styles more openly. During the lean months right after I left home, when I was pretty much living paycheck-to-paycheck working as a machinist in a local foundry, I wasn’t able to take advantage of this newly found freedom, but a few months later, when I moved out to Alameda, California on Uncle Sam’s dime, I found myself a bit more able to look around.
And look around I did! I made weekly excursions to Amoebas and Rasputin Music in Berkeley and San Francisco (amongst other places), poring through their used bins, always on the lookout for finds. Occasionally I would find newly released recordings in the used bins, sold back after the previous owner had recorded the songs to cassette. After 4+ years in the Bay Area, my collection had gotten to the point to where I needed almost 4 of the 200 CD capacity Case Logic carriers, and I had amassed quite a few LPs as well.
This week’s entries consist of some of the groups that I had found during my years in the Navy, 1990 – 1997:
- Smashing Pumpkins: Appels + Oranjes – I don’t know when I started listening to this group, or who introduced me to them. I just remember that at some point prior to 1994 I had found out about this group and was determined to get everything that they had released up to that point. I lost touch with the group around 1997, but thanks to a particularly fortuitous MP3 download party and the Seattle Public Library, I’m pretty much back on track.
- Aimee Mann: Fifty Years after the fair – I really liked Aimee Mann when she was with ’till Tuesday, particularly “Everything’s Different Now”, so I was pretty gratified when (a) she sang backing vocals on Rush’s “Time Stand Still”, and (b) she went solo. She’s one of the more consistant artists that I currently keep up with.
- Ministry: Filth Pig – I discovered Ministry right around the time they released “Psalm 69″, and was pretty much instantly blown away. I have pretty much everything that they released from “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste” onwards. I prefer their Industrial Metal / Thrash phase to their synthpop offerings of the 80’s.
- Johnny Cash: Hurt – Ever since I first started listening to him in 1992, I’ve found that Johnny Cash is probably the only male country artist that I will ever admit to liking. That’s probably due to the fact that, at least in my mind, he was ever so willing to go outside of the box both musically, as his drop-dead wonderful rendition of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” shows, and socially. I was first turned onto his music after a magazine article gave his very first “American Recordings” extremely positive reviews.
- Front 242: Serial Killers Don’t Kill Their Girlfriends – One of my old roommates introduced me to Front 242 back in 1991.I particularly liked “06:21:03:11 UP EVIL” and “05:22:09:12 OFF” as a whole, although I do like portions of some of their earlier recordings. I really haven’t kept up with this group past the late-90’s.
- Cocteau Twins: Pitch the Baby – I remember hearing this song while I was at a upscale pizzeria on South Street in Philadelphia called Vezzo’s. That restaurant was one of the first off-basse places that I had visited during my time at HT “A” School; I was taken in by the ambiance, and the fact that they had Cocteau Twins playing on the jukebox certainly added to it! I frequented that establishment pretty regularly during the 3+ months I was in Philly, and actually made a couple of friends there.
- Butthole Surfers: The Shame of Life – I first heard this group at the first Lollapalooza festival in Mountain View, CA back in 1992. What impressed me was the fact that there was this gargantuan lead singer in a cowboy hat who came strolling out onto the stage, takes a couple of swigs of beer, fires off a few rounds from his shotgun into the air, and then proceeds to yell into a megaphone while the band behind him is getting busy laying down one smoking track after another. The sheer weirdness took me in, and I remember scouring Bay-Area record stores for their CD’s armed with a copy of “Trouser Press” for reference.
- Fishbone: Swim – I remember being curious about this group, finally getting a copy of “Truth and Soul” back in 1993, which I still consider to be their best release yet. My shipmates onboard the USS Samuel Gompers would groan every time I played a Fishbone CD, but I was having fun :)
Favorite this week:
This week, I’m choosing Pitch The Baby from the Cocteau Twins. They were the very first group that I started to eagerly seek out in my post-parents-house life, and, in many ways, they represent a sort of first love for me. Until this day, I can still hear Elizabeth Fraser’s voice coming from the Jukebox as I take my first tentative steps into a new place, welcoming me into a new life.