“I had moved to New York at nineteen to go to art school, and found a job at Kim’s on St. Marks. Before I had met him I had seen a drawing on the counter of a frog smoking a cigar on a bicycle and I had asked about it and the other guy working there was like “You are going to love Bruno” and I did! He showed up and was playing Seeds records and we watched a bunch of Beavis and Butthead bootlegs and became best friends”
My first record was a seven-inch—I sent away for when I was 15 or so, by this cutesy punk band The Peechees. Actually, I don’t like a lot of the punk stuff I listened to when I was younger, but I can still get behind that band. My brother used to DJ house music and therefore had expensive turntables and when he would be out, I’d sneak in and try to mix like, Fugazi and Shellac together, hahaha. I am dumb.”
—Leslie Stein, vocals/guitar
“My parents only listened to country and easy listening, but when I went to rummage through their records for something to listen to in my room as a child, I grabbed Sgt. Pepper’s because of the cover. It was the only rock record that they owned, so I played it over and over again for years.”
—Chad Laird, bass/vocals
“Most of my early vinyl memories are of 45s in England, many of which were flexidiscs from breakfast cereal, comics, newspapers, novelty books, etc. One such flexi was from an instructional book of vocal mimicry, and featured the author claiming to impersonate a frog, saying “knee-deep” while breathing in. Another was the “Oink! Get Together Song,” which came free on the cover of an early issue of the great and probably-considered-important-nowadays Oink! comic. This was actually an incredibly mournful-sounding song, featuring various characters from the publication being haplessly conducted by the late, great Frank Sidebottom, sounding like he was wearing his paper-mache head in the recording-studio. Marc Riley from the Fall/Creepers/Radio 1 etc. probably had a hand in it too, as he did with much of Oink!
While I loved the Oink! song, I didn’t like Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” at all, the flexidisc of which turned up with the glossy nonsense-ads and invention pamphlets in a Sunday newspaper. It was adorned visually with a photograph of a smartly-striped hot-air balloon, and musically with Brian May’s horrible, soapy leads. I still listened to it nonetheless. Later on I remember De La Soul’s “3 is the Magic Number” coming with a box of Frosties (Frosted Flakes), but I didn’t like that much either at the time, and it didn’t play well–possibly from the same house-paint-speckles that plagued a few of these.
“On the inflexible side(s), I was the proud owner of both the “Buffalo Soldier” single by Bob Marley and “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth, which started me off on reggae 45s I suppose–I buy little else these days. A later fave was Megadeth’s cover of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” from the soundtrack of, I think, the crummy-looking film Shocker which I’ve still yet to see. Far more shocking, I always thought, was a Bad Manners single that I’d won shooting an air-rifle when the fun-fair was in town. All I remember of it now was Buster Bloodvessel, the singer, creepily asking “Is there a doctor in the house?” which may have been the title–I dare not look it up. I played it only a few times, and, as with most of my records…should have chosen a goldfish instead.”
—Bruno Meyrick-Jones, guitars/vocals
“Most of my early childhood memories of music are tied up with the radios in my parent’s cars. Typical of someone at my advanced age, “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers, “Right Back Where we Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, Wings, Fleetwood Mac, etc. are the sounds of the hit parade I fondly remember. These years are often dismissed by the cognoscenti as the bland era between psychedelia and punk rock, but things were pretty good for a five-year old rolling down the highway in the back seat with the radio on…until “Summer Breeze” came on. That song can still bring on a fit of existential despair for some reason.
We had few records in the house when I was a little kid. My older brothers started buying music as teens during the years of 8-tracks and cassettes, and all that I can recall from my parents’ record collection is Let it Be (I still have that copy), the lesser U.S. version of Hard Day’s Night, a sound effects record, Bongos Bongos Bongos, a few 45s (including “Photograph” by Ringo Starr), and a K-Tel record that must have been bought for my brother. This gem included “Rock and Roll Part II” by Gary Glitter, “Little Willie” by Sweet, “I Wanna be With You” by the Raspberries, “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, and “Hocus Pocus” by Focus. My brother and I couldn’t listen to that last one without rolling on the floor laughing.
When I was six or seven, I was given my very own blue plastic Sears record player, and it was a fine day when I could hear “Little Willie” any time I damn well pleased. Never again would I have to wait for some guy on the radio to play it. “More than a Feeling” by Boston was the first 45 I bought with my own money, the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer the first LP. I still have the latter, and listened to it a couple of months ago. It sounded pretty good, whereas I have CDs that inexplicably stopped working within a few years of buying them.
30-plus years and many, many records later, this record collecting habit and the fetishization of vinyl sometimes troubles and puzzles. Why do these objects exert such control over otherwise sane minds? Is it not absurd or even humiliating for a grown-ass man to obsess over Ebay auctions of records made decades ago for teenagers, when the same recordings can be downloaded anytime on the cheap or for free? It is madness, no? (And I’m nothing compared to some friends. I just witnessed a pal pack close to 10,000 records for a cross-country move. It was indeed a dreary thing to see.)
It is the fidelity, you say? Some of my most loved 45s sound like someone is frying bacon in the background. When people say those crackles and pops make for a more “authentic” listening experience, what does that even mean? In my darker moments, I suspect much of this talk is merely sentimental malarkey, nostalgia, or a desperate justification for a vapid materialism. Others say it’s the packaging and the art work, the band photos, and so forth. I say when you have seen one long-haired burnt-out case, you have seen them all. I say all this and yet why did I have to buy “She’s Gotta Wobble When She Walks” by Sugar Boy Crawford (Imperial 5424,1956) this week on 45? I have it on a compilation already, and that should be enough. Why did I recently have a dream about Starday country 45s when I used to dream about girls?
What exactly is at work here? If anyone out there is reading this and has answers, help us.”
—Steve McGuirl, drums
Prince Rupert’s Drops’ Run Slow is on store shelves now via Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records.