Friday, February 5, 2010

The One That Got Away

LP albums were about $10 back then (you know when I mean), a large sum when you earned 90 cents an hour. If I bought one, it was after careful consideration, and I kept them all, taking good care even though the cheap high-acid paper sleeves and covers deteriorated over the years. The last of the rarities (Peter Green's End of the Game) just sold and the buyer sent an e-mail thanking us for the great condition it was in. I know he'll listen to it several times this week; each note from Green or Jeff Beck in their solo releases is worth savoring over and over.
I was so lucky to get a treasure trove when WFMV decided to go all classical and drop the great jazz and folk music in their collection -- our local NPR station did the same years ago and I drifted away. I love classical, but they just play the hits like most radio, and that's just not all there is that is worth the time.
There was another source for new releases of greatly varying quality. WGOE-AM, in the cramped studio next to ours in the now-gone building opposite Willow Lawn, got a steady stream of DJ promo albums each week, and the ones the employees didn't want went into a box. They didn't play albums, and eventually not even 45's -- the songs were copied onto "carts" (like 8-track tape cartridges) just like the commercials and promos. In any form, the music was of no value. What counted were car dealer and furniture ads (yech).
"GO" was a low-wattage daytime-only station, so when I was at "work" at night by myself, I'd check the box every once in a while. Boy, if I had known then! I left behind so many that I wish I had now -- but the thing about it that I regret is I got rid of a lot of albums after one play because of lack of space and -- I'll admit it -- snobishness. First releases by the Cyrkle and the Innocence that I thought juvenile are collector's items now, and someone would really enjoy them. The worst was getting rid of very good, even great, records I liked but were not noticed, much less successful. I foolishly did not value them because no one else seemed to. One was producer/bassist Felix Pappalardi's Hard Rock from the Middle East -- just up my musical alley; wish I could play it again today.
But the one I should never have culled...
Today, The Remains from Boston are regarded as "America's Rolling Stones" (the one guy even looked just like Brian Jones), and their British-invasion sound was part Stones, part Beatles, part Yardbirds and Zombies, and all garage rock-n-roll. I just loved this record and played it over and over, somewhat surprised no one had heard of them. They had four regional hits (not in Richmond) and the 1966 Epic record (worth $200 in mono now; $300 in stereo) that I had snagged from the WGOE reject box was their only LP, since they had disbanded just before release. They had, however, opened for the Beatles for 21 days in August 1966 during their final tour -- so a lot of people heard them, unless they were too wrought up to pay attention to the American act. Appearances on Ed Sullivan's Christmas show and on Hulaballo were part of a very good start too.
Epic reissued the album in 2007, and their legendary Capitol Records audition tape eventually appeared on Sundazed (SC6069), and the now-64-year-olds are playing again in the US and Europe to packed audiences.
Some things you have to learn the hard way.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you enjoyed the WGOE t-shirt at the National. A lot of good musicians have come and gone. Promotion, money, and emotions often break up groups of people reaching for a dream.