Recently, my parents took their record collection out of the closet they stored it in and gave it to me. There were not many records of value, but the collection is priceless.
I am a child of the seventies, which means that LPs were my first way of buying music. The first record I remember buying was Kiss’s Destroyer for a nickel. That was the best investment I ever made even if Beth, the reason why I bought it, was scratched. I also have the Detroit Rock City single that con I often pretended to be Ace Frehley by pretending a tennis racket was my guitar. I mean, he was the coolest member of Kiss. My mom’s blue album of the Beatles introduced me to the band backwards. Hearing their experimental stuff first made listening to the Vee-Jay release of Songs, Pictures, and Stores of the Fabulous Beatles even more exciting because I could hear how tight and exciting of a band they were. My mom’s copy of the soundtrack for the ’68 version of Romeo and Juliet helped turn me into a fan of Shakespeare and Laurence Olivier, who to me had the perfect voice. I found my old copy of Styx’s Kilroy Was Here, which is a silly, convoluted concept album that is nearly one of my favorite albums of all time. It was my first introduction to fascism. It helped spark an interest in history of World War II and led me to reading books like 1984. It is not a great album by any means (yet, Mr. Roboto is still great damn it), but it was gateway for many of my interests that I have today.
I also inherited some of my parents 45s as well as quite a few of my old story 7” inches. Cristina and I were both excited to find the storybook edition of The Empire Strikes Back. I did not get to see Empire in its initial theater run so this was the real version of Empire for me. I completely had blocked out the strange but great Electric Company story of The Silent Es from Outer Space. My mom also had a few Beatles singles including Let it Be in which I remember envisioning Paul as a Baptist preacher singing at church. This was strange because at the time I never had been in a Baptist church.
I am still in the process of giving these albums a good clean. There is one album I never listened to when I was a kid that I am excited to listen to now: James Brown and the Famous Flames’ Cold Sweat.
I do not collect albums because I think they sound superior to other formats. My hearing is not that good. If you look at my collection and if you know me well, that Styx record sticks out like a sore thumb. Yet, record collections, and collections in general, tell the story of who we are. My collection would be incomplete without that album. The story of who I am would be as well.