I love records.
They are a magical disk to me. They made me a dreamer, a music lover and a musician. I spent hours, days and weeks in my childhood bedroom listening to records and staring at their covers.
Those magical covers.
And what was in the grooves of those vinyl delights was also magical. KISS, Rush, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, the Ramones. Those might not be names that mean much to you, but they meant a lot to me during my teen years.
I had a pretty decent collection of vinyl when I was younger. I bought plenty of records with money I made as a busboy or delivering pizzas. Yes, I also bought 8-track tapes and, later, cassettes, but I always loved albums.
Not all of it was the harder rock mentioned above. I was a huge Elton John fan, and also had some pop music, plenty of progressive stuff and even some jazz fusion.
I could sit in my bedroom, put on an album and stare at an album cover for hours. I read the names of the producers, where it was recorded, who the engineer was. I read the lyrics and scanned the “thank you” section many bands put in the liner notes for cool shout outs to other bands.
My mother thought I was crazy. She was probably right about that, but not because of my love of records and music.
I had those albums for decades, and I continued to add to the collections for a long time. I was not a completest who had to have everything, but I did collect everything from certain bands simply because I loved the music.
But eventually I stopped listening to vinyl. First CDs and then digital took over and my records simply became boxes of memories that I carted around from state to state. I didn’t even own a record player for years.
I gave many of my old classic albums to a friend in Minnesota when we moved from there to California in the mid-2000s. I knew they were going to a good home.
And before we moved from California to Illinois five years later, I gave the rest of the collection that was not water or heat damaged to another friend.
For the first time since I was a toddler, I was record free.
But a few years ago, I started record shopping again. Surprise, surprise – records became cool again. Yes, they sound better than CDs and much better than any digital file you can download. Also, they have a certain cool factor.
My wife bought me a turntable, and I enjoying listening to records at home. We even have some sweet special editions, including a nice re-mastered version of the first Cheap Trick album.
Recently, I had an amazing find at an estate sale: An original copy of KISS Alive II in near mint condition with tour book, merchandise form and original “tattoos” included. Total score! Sure, it cost me $46, which was way more than the probably $5 I spent for the album when it came out in 1977, but I had no problem forking over the money.
I took it home and stared at it. The album is a thing of beauty, and all the extras brought being a teen in my bedroom hearing this music for the first time rushing back to me.
Of course, my mom would probably think I was crazy for spending that much on a 42-year-old album. And I might be crazy – but not for buying that album.
Brad Jennings is Editor of The Ogle County Life.