Records Are Great

Tony Ballz

Records are great. You youngsters call it vinyl, us old folks call them records, or LPs. Vinyl is what your car seats are made out of, or a raincoat. I have records by a band called The Raincoats, but I don’t think a band called The Car Seats exists. I’ll have to Google it.

I woke up from the party on my living room floor, a dull pain in my right side. I rolled over and saw that I had passed out on my 180-gram Sundazed reissue of the Stooges’ Fun House which was cemented to the floor in a puddle of hours-old beer. I got a cigarette butt out of the ashtray and lit it. Blah! Menthol. I stubbed it out in the grooves of Fun House, right in the middle of “Loose”. I pried the record from the floor and went over to the turntable. My copy of Scratch Acid’s first EP from 1984 on Rabid Cat was still spinning round, stuck in the inner groove, and it looked like someone had smeared cat food all over it. It might have been me. I flung it aside, and slapped on Fun House, the sticky side with the beer spill.

It sounded fantastic. The guitars were real warm.

I went to use the bathroom and found myself urinating on my original 1969 Elektra copy of the MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, the one with the word motherfucker intact, before the label had to recall them. It was sitting in the toilet, half-submerged in vomit and pee. I cleaned it off by swishing it around in the bowl and carried it back into the living room. Just then, a glob of gunk on Fun House’s surface caused the needle to break off and go flying across the room, right in the middle of “1970”. It sounded like this: Ah feel all riiight! Ah feel all riiight! Ah feel all riiiPKK! GZZSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I retrieved the needle, scotch-taped it back onto the cartridge, and put on the MC5, still wet from the toilet bowl.

It sounded bitchin’. The guitars were real warm.

I stepped outside and quizzically surveyed the carnage in my driveway. Then I remembered my redneck friends had brought their shotguns to the party, and we had decided to play a late night game of The Kids Are Alright. The ghost of John Entwistle smiled upon us as we skeet shot some of my faves. The Repo Man soundtrack. BLAM! Absolutely Free by the Mothers of Invention. BLAM! In The Flat Field by Bauhaus. BLAM! The first Grateful Dead album on the gold Warner Bros. label. BLAM! The original 1967 The Who Sell Out on Decca. This one’s for you, John! BLAM! The insanely rare 12″ 45-rpm Everything Falls Apart by Husker Du on Reflex that I found at Bookman’s for $5. BLAM! Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. 2 record set! BLAMBLAM! Bonus round.

Those of us who made the playoffs had to hit seven inches, and they took a lot more skill, especially the old big hole 45s. “Up on The Roof” by the Drifters on Atlantic, BLAM! Sorry guys. “Open My Eyes” by The Nazz on SGC, BLAM! Hope that wasn’t too painful, Todd. Dwight Twilley’s “I’m On Fire” on Shelter, BLAM! See you in hell, Dwight. “Mongoose” by Elephant’s Memory on Metromedia, which I’ve had since 1974 and have never found a backup copy of, BLAM! Dammit, missed. “Savory” by Jawbox on deSoto, BLAM! Sorry Kim. “We Love You” by the Stones on London, BLAM! You guys were the greatest.

Amidst the morning after debris, I spied my old 7″ of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown”, intact except for the edge of a shotgun blast which had widened the center hole considerably and singed the SST logo. It looked like a motorcycle had peeled out on it, too. I took it inside and put it on.

It sounded awesome. The guitars were real warm.

Recently, a local publication ran a cover story about how cool records are, and I was (not very) surprised to find that the author hadn’t talked to any club DJs or punk rock fans (the two main subcultures keeping vinyl alive for over 20 years), just his friends. Now, there are lots of indie rock bands I love, but those people don’t give a shit about records. They would buy the latest Iron & Wine or Calexico if it was pressed up on a Ritz cracker, as long as it cost $45.99 and was a limited edition remaster.

Records are now what CDs were when they first came out: overpriced vanity items for a niche market. A fetish. Thanks to the internet, music is free at last and CDs are recognized as the crap plastic they are. This means Compact Discs can finally be cool because now everyone can afford them, not just snotty audiophiles and collector scum. See, one of the main reasons records were/are cool is that they’re AFFORDABLE. They should be $10 or less, not 10 percent of your paycheck. And you’re supposed to PLAY them, not display them. It’s the difference between a record collector and a music fan.

Personally, I’m heartened by the fact that old farts with great LP libraries are croaking every day. Their children say “Let’s get rid of this junk” and give their records to Goodwills all over this white trash country of ours. Happy hunting!

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