Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Divestment Archives: For the Record(s)

In anticipation of the addition of a second bathroom in our home's basement, we did some fairly significant tidying up of the storage area downstairs this weekend. In order to accommodate the new and improved Fake Fireplace, we need to amalgamate some boxes of, well, not necessarily detritus, but the accumulated nonsense that one picks up over time and may be reluctant to put down. When push comes to shove, however, what separates the sheep from the goats is the ability to admit, "no, I am unlikely to ever use that item again", and to let go of those items with little sentimentality and even less practicality.


Sometimes this is easy: promotional items of unknown lineage or purpose ("It looks kind of like a letter opener, but what do you think the 'MET479' engraved on it stands for?"), photos of forgotten or entirely unknown individuals, or the 'slightly' broken things destined never to be repaired.


In instances where some sentiment or nostalgia is in play, I have found it tremendously helpful in terms of reducing the sting of abandonment and loss to digitally photograph that component for archival purposes. In this manner, the memory can be revisited at will with practically no lasting impact in terms of one's storage or living space; a very decent compromise.


Onc of the less-than-useful categories of items vis-a-vis our basement stowage is a small but tenacious assortment of LP record albums, as in the full-on vinyl variety. It's possible that Audrey and I had a stereo with a turntable when we were first married, but we ended up getting a replacement when we lived in Toronto, so that's circa a full two decades of not even being able to play these vintage discs in any way whatsoever! So why hang on to them at all?


Well, they're very thin, for openers, so you feel like they don't take up any appreciable amount of usable space, but that is obviously a lie. The real reason hovers somewhere between nostalgic affection and the desire to postpone the inevitable decision to let them go. For instance, one of the first two rock albums I ever bought, Def Leppard's Pyromania, with its lurid crosshair cover art, always managed to stow away somewhere,from the move out of home, to college, to married life, to Ontario and back.


The same time I bought this record at the mall in Leduc, I also picked up Cut by Dutch rockers Golden Earring, based on the strength of their single, "Twilight Zone", but sharing a similarly firearmish theme on the album cover, with an intriguing high speed photograph of a rifle bullet slicing a playing card in half by way of the narrow edge. I'm not at all sure when or why I parted ways with that one.


Now, truth be told, I didn't need to take a picture of Pyromania; I could have used Google image search the way I did to find Cut, but somehow, strangely, seeing it there on the stack of other albums with the earmarks on its corner makes the whole thing that much more visceral. Not as visceral as the damage around the various logos on the Heavy Metal movie soundtrack cover.


Still a far better soundtrack than it ever was a movie, the illicit appeal of an animated feature containing overt references to drugs and sexuality as well as creative violence, action and adventure means that Heavy Metal remains the most unapologetically adolescent film I have ever seen. The soundtrack was primarily rock, rather than actual heavy metal, although it did feature tracks by Black Sabbath, Trust, Nazareth and Blue Oyster Cult. The album contained a fascinating melange of styles, from Donald Fagen's jazz-tinged "True Companion" to Devo's cover of "Working in a Coal Mine", but most intriguing to me was the fascinating logo of the magazine the movie drew its inspiration from, the right-most letters of the top row slowly crushing the bottom row beneath their presumably inexorable weight. I would not be at all surprised if the love I have for logos and typefaces came as much from this album cover as it did from all the comics I read as a youth.


Alas, such a a provenance does not make it a sensible thing to keep, and it will be making its exit shortly, and the CD is already in my Amazon cart awaiting another purchase or two in order to reach the free shipping threshold.


Like most right-thinking people of the time, I grew up thinking the world of Henry Mancini, and the Art of Noise cover of his "Peter Gunn" theme (1986) connected me to him in a cool new way while introducing me to the '50s twang-master, Duane "Rebel Rouser" Eddy.


I love twang to this day (Oingo Boingo's "Sweat", am I right? (No? Just me then?), and ended up picking Eddy's eponymous 1987 comeback album, notable at the time for containing the intro tune for MuchMusic's "Outlaws & Heroes", actually titled "Theme for Something Really Important." Man the liner notes on this thing are killing me; I'd forgotten that John Fogerty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Phil Pickett, and Steve Cropper all played on it, but a deal's a deal, and there's still no turntable in the house.


There had been a lot more vinyl in play at one point, but the basement flooded when I was 14, not two years after I had moved down there, costing me not only hundreds of awesome comic books but a couple dozen LPs. Most of them were soundtracks, including the original Star Wars double album, Superman, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and a bunch of others.


The bulk of my youthful music was collected on cassette, most of which exited the premises about a year ago, with the exception of the mix tapes, which I will clutch onto for as long as possible, and infact, should look for a way to podcast them into some sort of MP3 format.


As to the remainder, a Yello EP of "Oh Yeah" which I have on CD, excerpts from Rossini's Barber of Seville which I at least have the overture for on disc, and a few other odds and sods. Sadly, no real standouts in terms of cover art that might be worth framing, even if we had the wall space to spare, which we really don't. Still, I'll always have a soft spot for the iconic imagery and ska-derived sensibility of this classic Madness album:




No comments:

Post a Comment