Rich Layton
& Tough Town,
The TVD First Date

“File under ‘Everything Old is New Again.’”

“Fifty years ago, my parents’ generation had its own version of Spotify: the mail order record club. Once a month, five new LPs arrived in the mail and headed straight for the record player built into the top of the Zenith TV. That was the plus side. The minus side—none of them were rock and roll. Still, it warmed my heart to hear my dad singing along with all those albums by Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, and Tony Bennett. Those were his happiest moments in a young life heavily weighted with family responsibilities and an ever-increasing tab at the neighborhood tavern.

The only way to change the music selection was to start making my own money, cobble together speakers, an amp and a turntable from a pile of gear in an uncle’s basement, and ride the bus to the record shop after school. My first single was The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” (B-side, “Rain”), which may still be in a box around here somewhere. Ultimately, I bought only a handful of singles. In order to make those lawn-mowing dollars stretch, I opted for albums, and like my dad, was happiest when I was singing along with records in my room.

Due to my limited budget, discovering new music meant keeping my ear to the ground to find out when pals at school bought new records. I’d walk to their houses after class, eager to have my mind blown by Dylan, The Doors, The 13th Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane and the rest of the late ‘60s music explosion. This music wasn’t the soundtrack of my life—it’s what I lived for.

The kid who exposed me to the coolest music had a crappy GE portable stereo and threw his records in a pile. Another friend played albums on the giant console stereo in the family den. I’ve long been fascinated with the aural equivalent of “chasing the dragon”—that is, how to recapture the intensity of that first experience with a new album. I’m of half-a-mind to track down a GE Mustang portable and a Curtis-Mathes console and report back after cueing up the handful of surviving original albums in my collection.”
Rich Layton

Rich Layton & Tough Town’s full-length release Salvation Road arrives in stores on May 31 via Never Lucky Records.

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PHOTO: WES YOUSSI

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