It is difficult to understand why some things end up having an influence on us, but they do. This album is just such an influence on me.
I still remember the summer of 1988. I was strolling through my local Tape World, looking for something interesting, when I came upon this album on cassette. I almost hate to admit that I picked this album up because of the impression that the cover made on me, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise. What made this even more shocking was the fact that the image seemed so incongruous with my musical preferences at the time. The really odd thing is that I really loved this album, right from the first listen.
I don’t know if I could have described this album at that time. Age and mileage might bring me to the place where I would probably describe it as “Cowboys and Indians Rock, with a punk attitude”. Like the others in the handful of albums I had in heavy rotation in my car, I came to memorize every word and every note. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
But then, time wore on. CDs replaced cassettes in cars I owned, and while I still have this cassette in the garage somewhere, I haven’t been able to listen to it in years. I was surfing the web one evening a few months ago, and came to the band’s website, where I found and mp3 of a recent track they recorded a year or so ago, and the announcement that the album would be re-released in December with the single version of “I Hear The Call” and the new track, “The Long Run Out” added. I couldn’t order it fast enough, especially when Amazon was offering delivery on the same day as the release if you ordered Prime. There was a problem with my order, but it was resolved, and my copy arrived today. I could hardly wait for my ride home, and the chance to hear it at 11 through my car’s sound system.
I was not disappointed.
It was like riding home with old friends. Only it sounded better than it did. If these tracks weren’t digitally recorded, then they are among the best analog recordings I have ever heard. Age has changed my perspective on some of the songs, most notably, “With My Boots On” was very different this time, since the last time I heard it, my father was still alive, but overall, I was smiling and enjoying all of the imagery that the lyrics paint.
But what I didn’t know was the back story. It would have made the best episode of “Behind the Music” ever. Apparently, the band brought a very different sound to LA in the mid 1980s than the glam metal that was dominating the sound of the city’s clubs and record labels, and before long, they were being managed by Motley Crue’s manager, had a top notch lawyer, promotion, and they set off a bidding war among the town’s record labels. They were everywhere, playing gigs with various music legends, and living the life of rock and roll excess. And then, they imploded. One album. And one reunion show. And it was done.
But I will always have the memories. You can’t go home again. But you can visit 17 years old, and remember what it was like to have more attitude than wisdom. And that’s a good thing.