Seattle, New York, L.A., or Vancouver they all hold the same treasure. Out of the way, hole in the wall record stores. Searching these ancient basement bargain bins, and navigating awkward alleys of tall narrow shelves in forgotten back rooms, has become the rite of passage for music lovers. Buying records for us is an adventure. That’s how I’ve always felt, until recently. I've always kept online shopping at arms length, and was happy to keep doing so, but the system let me down. Selection, accessibility, and hours of operation, left me feeling empty and disregarded.
I have a group of Generation 'Y', friends that I talk music with, and they rag on me for doing things the "Old school" way. I shared my despondency with them, and for the millionth time they encouraged me to turn to the world wide web. And so, I found a website I liked (funkymooserecords.ca) and took the plunge,
Within days I found hanging on my door a little notice, a package had arrived.
When you dig through piles of old records, the reward for your efforts is finding something cool, unique or odd. Ordering records from the comfort of your home is a completely different experience.
When I peeled the wrapping open it revealed a teenage favorite. I was amazed, the crack of the center gable, the smell of ink, the crisp newness of the stiff paper sleeve, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was great.
The record that lay within my grasp is an album that drudges up so many memories, and in my mind one of the greatest “mix tapes” of all time. The original motion picture soundtrack to
Gerald Potterton, Ivan Reitman and Leonard Mogel’s masterpiece, Heavy Metal.
The first time I saw this album, I lived in a tiny Alberta town. Seeing the artwork, and those huge letters screaming HEAVY METAL sitting beside a friggin Garth Brooks album will always be a pleasant memory. I had to have it.
So like any other teenager in the 90’s I ran across the street to check my bank balance. No dice, I was broke. Next step, find someone who owned it and dub it on to cassette.
(Mixtape's and dubbing albums is how I found out about some of my favorite bands)
This took way longer than I wanted. After a good solid week of searching, I found a girl with a Columbia house subscription who had just got it in the mail. After some negotiations I did it, I would soon be the owner of a brand new Heavy Metal cassette.
I was familiar with Heavy Metal magazine, but had no idea what this album really was. I was later to find out that it was the Soundtrack to a movie, a movie I would not see for almost an other 3 years. After procuring for myself some malt liquor (the price agreed on for the dub) and a blank cassette (new) I headed to the home of the bootlegger.
I found myself sitting on the end of a small bed across from a pretty blond haired grade 10 girl I could only describe as a banger.
To call someone a "Head Banger" in this case was not meant to be rude, but most definitely fit the bill. Tight blue jeans, leather jacket (indoors) and a Megadeath t-shirt, I was smitten to say the least.
She peered at me with a curious look in her eye and said
“You don’t look like the kind of guy who would be into this kind of thing” (a reference to the movie I had not seen)
I pulled from my back pack the 40oz bottle of Colt 45, that I had talked my best friends big brother into buying for me and held it her way. Damn was the first word out of her mouth. She snatched it from my outstretched hands, cracked the lid, and knocked back a healthy swig, she dropped her head and shook it slowly, then flicked her hair back and let out a small, whoo! then looked me straight in the eyes and offered me a sip. I (completely out of my league) shrugged and said no, (an act I would immediately, and to this day regret) she shrugged back and said, “suit yourself” then tossed the cassette my way, bitchin’ was all I could managed to geek out at her. The cassette was dubbed perfectly. Tabs snapped out and sleeve filled out with the coolest penmanship, all tracks in order song name then band. Totally worth the hassle I went through to get the 40oz.
I stood up fixated on my new treasure and completely oblivious to the fact I had been offered a “hang out” with a hot girl.
Walking out the room and down the stairs all I did was examine the cassette,
Well.. I guess i’ll see you around she said, nervous and anxious and awkward I said, “ya I guess” and with a weird smile she closed the door.
These are the imendate memories that flooded my brain as I peeled the packaging from the record,
Next to the turntable, I flicked on my lava lamp, grabbed my headphones and dropped the needle. The title track is Sammy Haggar’s Heavy Metal, and still get my blood pumping and my fingers air guitar-ing.
As a budding artist this album was my jam, my inspiration while I drew.
I was working on a large art project with one of my best friends, he was sitting at the drafting table while I flicked through his CD’s. There she was. I drew it out immediately and held it aloft, “nice” was the response, I threw the CD in and sat down to draw. Three song had gone by and Devo’s version of working in a coal mine was slowly ending. My friend looked up at me and said that this part of the movie was rad, I shrugged and told him I had never seen it, “What?! that is perverse dude, you need to see this movie, I again raised my shoulders in indifference and went back to drawing.
Two songs later he got up to leave, and was gone until the album was almost over. Stevie Nicks was singing when he kicked open the door, in his hand a warn copy of Heavy Metal the movie, “we can not go on until you’ve seen this movie!". At cassette point I was forced down a hallway to the basement den, where an assortment of derelict couches lay languid in a semi circle around the television altar. Sit! I am about to blow your mind! Into the VCR went the movie, off went the lights. As the auto tracking cleared I was introduced to an artistic masterpiece. As each scene rolled across the screen, it was accompanied by the songs I knew and loved. Finally all made sense, I had always wondered about the track list, but now while watching the movie tracks like Heavy Metal by Don Felder and Journey’s ‘open arms’ fell nicely into place.
As the album ended I pulled off my headphones and stared at the art on the wall of my small record room.
I didn't dig through a bin to find this album, I bought it online.
Does it matter where I got it? No, this album still kicks ass.
JR Roy is a Musician, Writer, and Back woods curmudgeon, on a road going nowhere slow.
Music consumes a large part of my house, and life.
Yes it is better to burn out than it is to fade away, but its even better not to die at all.