Bob Lord,
The TVD First Date

“Some of my earliest memories of music begin with the crackle of a needle drop.”

“I can distinctly remember sitting in my childhood friend’s family room at age 4 or so, around 1980, listening to Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade and being hypnotized by the disc going around and around on the turntable, totally immersed in the sound and the cover art and all the spectacle and ceremony of the whole thing.

My parents had some vinyl which I listened to—I still have their original 45 of “Funkytown” right here next to my desk—but the first brand-new, just-released record that was my very own was Business As Usual by Men At Work, and I couldn’t get enough of “Who Can It Be Now?” Still can’t. Around that same time, I got The Beatles’ Blue and Red album compilations on cassette and found myself stuck on that first volume of Blue, it simply entranced me. I went through multiple copies of that one.

A bit later I got Synchronicity by The Police on vinyl, around the time when “Every Breath You Take” became a hit, and after hearing side one with the “I” and “II” bookends I have to say I was hard-pressed to even turn it over (same thing happened with side one of Back to Oakland by Tower of Power when I was in high school many years later).

But there was one particular musical experience in 1987 which I still think about frequently. I was 10 years old or so at the time and had been a regular watcher of the syndicated series Solid Gold. The show typically featured hits of the day, but this one episode had a guest who had a hit many years before, making his first appearance on TV in quite some time—the British singer Arthur Brown, performing (cough, lip-syncing, cough) his 1968 hit “Fire.”

I was captivated. At the time, I was shocked by this guy dressed up like an undertaker, singing all this freaky shit about burning, how I’m gonna burn, etc, marching around like an evil robot and eventually erupting into an explosion of long spidery limbs. Looking at the video now on YouTube, well, um, it’s not quite so impressive, but keep in mind I’m of the generation that learned how to type on a typewriter, so cut me some slack.

When it was over, all I wanted was to hear it again. Of course, since we were using two cups and a piece of string to communicate back then, there was really no way to find it other than go to a record shop. Well, that was a dead end, because the album had been out of print for many years.

I remember keeping my radio on the oldies station with a blank tape in the deck just in case. I probably have a dozen tape recordings of “Fire” that start somewhere in the middle of the first verse.

I searched for years, in libraries, used record shops, yard sales, friends’ basements, all to no avail. It became a game, a lark, something I did wherever I went. Over the years I accumulated searches for other albums, like John Entwistle’s solo work and Eric Burdon’s early WAR material, and eventually other items, like hard-to-find bass guitars. The search itself became more fun, more important, more to the point, and I found myself searching and searching and searching.

So by the time I found the album The Crazy World of Arthur Brown featuring the song “Fire” by the God of Hellfire himself Arthur Brown at nothing less than a church sale in Salem New Hampshire many years later, I was in no way let down that my quest was over, because plenty of other quests still remained. There is always something left to be discovered.

Now I’m starting to feel like a Digital Man in an increasingly Quantum World remembering the Analog Times, and that’s OK, because I genuinely believe that access is a good thing and that the future is bright and full of promise—at least until they start beaming the music directly into our skulls with no audio needed, coming soon to a brain near you. And to tell you the truth, I’m even looking forward to that too.

As of this writing there are around 100 copies of that Arthur Brown record on eBay, lots in great condition and at a good price. But I like my copy just fine.”
Bob Lord

Playland Arcade, the new full length release from Bob Lord is in stores now.

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