Monday, August 29, 2011

The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

You can say what you want about this album, or The Sex Pistols. I don't care if you think it belongs in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, or in a garbage can. It changed the whole damn show for me. It changed my whole outlook on music, and it's a big part of why I listen to what I listen to today.

I got it for my birthday in 1978. Denise and BJ (still dear friends to this day), gave me a present in school at lunch. I opened the package, knowing it was a record, but just wondering what in the hell these two girls would get me. This was it. All pink and green and so foreign looking. No wizard on the cover, no pretty girl, no dude with a guitar and a guitargasm face. Just a statement that I figured meant what it means, but I was 16 and had never heard anyone use the term bollocks before. I had talked about The Sex Pistols, and I had heard Anarchy in the UK on college radio. I knew it would be different, just because of all the looks I got in school carrying it around (I was 16, I had a record that most people had never heard of, and I carried it around in the hall until I cut out and went home and listened to it). I played side 2 first so I could hear the song I knew.

Man, I loved it! It was short and got right to the point. The music was biting and harsh. The lyrics seemed like the kind of political stuff that could get you disappeared (hey, I was 16). I loved every minute of it, and I was sure all my friends would, too. The next day in school I thanked Denise and BJ profusely, probably with a doob out in the smoking lounge (yeah, we could smoke in school), and I told everyone I saw it was the coolest record in years. Most people asked me why WMMS didn't play it, if it was so cool, and I had no answer. So I took it to a party that Friday night.

The party was at a guy's house that I didn't know very well, and whom I think moved shortly thereafter, because we really liked a lot of the same music, except Led Zeppelin. After we were a lot of beers in, I asked if I could play my new record, and he said, "Hell, yeah!" The console stereo in the living room was cranked and out comes the screaming, political without really saying anything, Holidays in the Sun. This guy Mark and I just started stomping around doing some adolescent boogaloo that required lots of yelling and pushing each other around, and three songs into it, we notice the entire fucking party has gone out to the kitchen, and even the patio outside, in the snow. No one stayed in the room, and I was kind of dejected and figured he'd take the record off, put on J. Geils and get his party back inside.

He didn't. He pushed me, we did shots of his dad's booze and stomped around the living room until the whole record played through. I was hot, I was sweaty and I knew that I didn't give a fuck what anyone else thought of The Sex Pistols, I fucking loved them and I knew I was gonna dig this new Punk Rock that was just starting to catch on. When the second side finished I went and puked over the front railing of his porch, ingratiating myself forever to some girl who was a senior and her boyfriend who looked like he wanted to beat me up.

Mark and I talked about music a lot for a few months after that, then I just never saw him again. Maybe summer came, I don't know. Maybe his parents blamed me for a drunken party. Whatever. I quit caring what most other people thought about what I listened to after that. I started to understand that most of my favorite music was going to be a journey I had to take on my own for the most part, and I was excited to be RIGHT THERE when Punk came out. I didn't get to see any shows really, but I found some of the records and met some older people that would turn me on to other bands, all because I loved that Sex Pistols album. It changed everything.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes - Yessongs

I remember the day I bought this 3 record monstrosity the very first time (this copy is my second, and it's a little noisy but good enough). I was at an old record store called Daisy Music Company. I had saved my allowance for what seemed like a thousand years so that I could buy this Yes album with every damned song I knew by them on it. It was 1973, I was 11 and I just knew this would make me the coolest kid on the planet. Hey, I had no idea how completely uncool progressive rock was, and to this day I still think Yes was a great band that had a lot going on for them. I never said I was cool, just that I thought I could be when I was 11.

I remember once when I was at a party some time when I was older than 11 year old me, and there were actual college guys there, and they had commandeered the stereo. The stereo was always my favorite place to hang out at a party because I could talk about music all night (still can, ask my wife, who gets easily bored with that!). I was pretty obsessive about Yes for awhile, and they were my first favorite band in the whole wide world. But back to the party with actual adults that could buy their own booze, and didn't mind my being around. So I'm hanging out at the stereo, mostly listening to these guys talk about bands I had only read about and playing some of those albums, and I'm getting a little plowed and someone finds Fragile and decides to play that. These guys get to geeking out on how incredible the musicians in Yes are, and I'm totally into this, and the subject goes to Yessongs. These guys are talking about how awesome Bill Bruford is on it and one of them says, "He's just so amazing on Close to the Edge, with all the time changes and stuff." Everyone agrees to his brilliance and I'm thinking, "He only plays on three songs on that album, and that's not one of them." So I work up a little nerve and spit out probably close to verbatim on the back album cover, "Alan White plays drums on all tracks except for Perpetual Change, Long Distance Runaround and The Fish." I get a look from our drumming expert that's like, "Shut up, dick;" and I'm wishing I had kept my mouth shut until one of the other guys that seemed to really know his shit and was apparently the Geek Squad Leader, says. "I think the kid is right. Bruford left for King Crimson shortly after Fragile came out."

"Yeah!" I'm thinking. "I had something to offer that these guys that know everything didn't know" (it would be years before I noticed everyone didn't read every word on the album covers every time they listened to an album). The Leader even let me pick an album to put on. I think I played it safe and grabbed Free's Fire and Water album, because everyone seemed to like that and it was one of my friend's older sister's albums. I was nervous that they wouldn't even let me play it, but one of the other guys seemed pretty happy that we were rocking a little harder, and the rest of the party was really party music of the late 70's, which kind of meant hard rock of the early 70's here in Ohio.

And that has next to nothing to do with Yessongs. Which is a really great yes album. You certainly don't need it, but they play the songs superbly and you get the entire Close to the Edge album, and a lot of Fragile and The Yes Album, too I thought it was a great buy, lemme tell ya! I had those albums by the time I got around to buying this copy, but like I said, Yes was my first favorite band, and I played their albums constantly. This one went through my horrid GE plastic record player, my slightly less horrid BSR changer, and then my first Dual, a 1019 which had seen better days! I got another Dual, a 1229, that was better, and that's probably when I bought this copy. I listened to this album a lot, and I remember when I figured out that during Rick Wakeman's solo that the chorus singing was actually a keyboard! Wow, that blew my mind back then. But there's just so much I love about this album, even though I played it to utter death.

Which reminds me, I was saying I remember getting it at Daisy Music Company. When I bought it, the guy hanging out at the record store (whom I figured must have been beyond cool to know the owner well enough to just stop in and talk) says, "Here's someone who just saw the movie last weekend." I had no idea there was a movie. I just wanted this giant collection of music. I'm halfway through it right now, and I think I'm gonna play the rest of it and read the book that comes with it, which is really just pictures if I recall correctly.