Death Of Samantha:
The TVD First Date

“The radio was always on in the house or the car, but occasionally, as a tot, the folks would play the bit of vinyl they owned, and my sister owned some records that she actively bought, along with some LPs, welcome and unwelcome, that had come to her as part of the record club she belonged to. For some reason The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 7” of “Nashville Cats” stands out to me as the first memory of experiencing a record in person on the home stereo, with friends visiting the folks.”

“After that night, I would then go on the open the console stereo and find and play whatever looked interesting. The stereo was a long piece of furniture from Sears that hid away both the records and the turntable. There were my dad’s Buck Owens and Chet Atkins LPs, and my sister’s Monkees, Beatles, and Paul Revere & The Raiders albums. Glen Campbell, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and 2 albums from Petula Clark were also in that mix. (Both Andy Williams and Roger Williams LPs figured in there too, I guess, but those got one spin each and shelved, save the song “Born Free.” Hey, I was a little kid.)

One day the folks brought me home a gift from the department store, an Archies single. Then it was a Mark Lindsay 7″. Then I would pick out things I saw in stores. I had confused the Who and the Guess Who (prominently played on WKYC from Detroit which we had on all the time) and saw this amazing colorful LP cover called Magic Bus on Decca in the grocery store and made mom buy it for 3 bucks. I then saw the “Join Together” 45 in a store and got it, having just seen it on a video clip show that was on TV in ’71 or ’72. K-Tel’s Fantastic comp, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry compilations followed, and I would marvel at my sister and brother-in-law’s own collection they had in their house and play them on their stereo while my folks visited with them in the other room. Did a lot of reading of covers, liner notes, photo browsing, etc… I asked for albums for Xmas and birthdays, scoring Osmonds’ Crazy Horses and Elton John’s Don’t Shoot Me… in consecutive years!

Much later I became a college radio DJ at Oberlin, then at a Cleveland station, where entire libraries of discovery were available to me. I did spend a lot of time in the preview room or production studio just playing things, checking records out I hadn’t heard before or looked interesting, especially things from the past I had missed out on the first time around. Stumbled onto 3 albums by Groundhogs on United Artists and thought they’d be worth a spin. Man were they ever.

Having “inherited” a lot of my sister’s albums she had left at home, I still played those, too. Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2 were great to throw in the radio show as well as at home, umm, on a date. One of the kept sister’s records was a drum-heavy rock 45 by folk singer Norma Tanega called “Bread” from 1966, which I ended up starting the radio show with every week. Turned out a difficult and rare record to find later, but a few are out there. Only recently did I find out that Bob Crewe and Herb Bernstein were responsible for putting that out. When I was 8, I had gotten my brother a 3 Dog Night album which he left at home when he went off to school, so I kept it, played it, and hung the fold-out sleeve panorama up on my wall. Who can argue the best rock posters didn’t come inside LP record sleeves?

The early-to-mid ’80s and early ’90s were the golden age of thrift-store record finding, at least for me anyway. I was able to get so many easy listening and exotica records for pretty cheap. I would play them behind the back-announcing on the show, but also just enjoyed them anyway. Ended up collecting the white Command label albums helmed by Enoch Light, & even found The Free Design’s Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love LP for a buck or so. Found out about so many session players by collecting albums. A weird ’60s record I bought by The Leathercoated Minds called A Trip Down The Sunset Strip had some great cheesy instrumentals and “real sounds from the Sunset Strip,” but only weeks later did I bother to read the credits to find it’s basically JJ Cale & Snuff Garrett doing some rock covers & JJ Cale psychedelic originals.

You still can’t beat vinyl for the experience. The fast rewind (just lift the needle and put it where you need), and the ability to see and read things reasonably are priceless.
Doug Gillard

“People often think of a record that changed their life. I look back at the album covers that changed mine, because I bought so many records based on the album artwork. This has been marginalized with the MP3, but it was a big thing for someone getting into music in isolation, with no real navigational devices except a hunch that, ‘This looks cool, it must be cool.'”

I remember the Velvet Underground’s Loaded working that way. I bought it while I was in an empty record store by myself in the middle of the afternoon because that subway station on the cover looked like my kind of band. I bought Public Image Limited’s Flowers of Romance for the same reason—the woman on the cover looked like my kind of band.

The list is long and I can’t think of one album that changed my life, because I always think back at the excitement I got by seeing some killer cover and getting excited to hear the music. Because I knew I would like it. People often talk about the excitement they get from a needle scratching and digging into the grooves of a vinyl. But what if the music sucks—who cares. Yeah, vinyl is cool way to deliver music, but I don’t fetishize vinyl. It’s about the complete package—with music and songs, coupled with a theme and style.

I could tell the latter from the cover art and my hunch was almost always correct. Because in most cases the music was as good as the cover.”
John Petkovic

Death Of Samantha’s career-spanning double album If Memory Serves Us Well is on store shelves now—on vinyl. Our review from earlier this year is here.

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