Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Toys

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

Nothing gets you drunk like listening to two long-playing David Soul albums in a row.

Wait.  I can't start at the end.  I have to start at the beginning.  The very beginning is that I was attending college in 1980 at Slippery Rock State College.  They had not yet changed the name to Slippery Rock "University of Pennsylvania," nor had they changed the sports teams names from Rockets to (ugh!) "The Pride."

On our turntables back then were a number of good records from great Pittsburgh-centric bands like Donnie Iris, the Iron City Housrockers and Norm Nardini and the Tigers.  Great stuff, right?  But the record that started this whole thing was this unbelievably crunchy, synth-driven album full of rock-candy called "Rock 'N' Roll Enforcers" by The Silencers.  Wherever those guys are:  "Thank you."

Most people my age from the Burgh would know that record, I bet.  It was top-class of the day from the opening cut, "Modern Love," to the close ("I Can't Believe It") there's not a cut that doesn't work - possibly better today than it did back then.  Without getting too much into it, I'm trying to figure out how I can embed these precious tracks so you can enjoy them too, my decades long search to replace this lp led me to Jerry's Records on Murray Avenue in Pittsburgh.

 This is Jerry.

These are Jerry's records.

Jerry has everything.  Name it, and Jerry's got it.  The place is in a rundown second floor of a warehouse but it simply reeks of a time long-gone when album art mattered and analog ruled with every snap, crackle and pop of needle skidding on vinyl groove.  I walked in and asked the man himself about my 33 1/3 rpm quest and he said, "Yeah I got that," and he pointed over there a few rows where a lot of Pittsburgh acts were grouped together.

I picked up "Rock 'N' Roll Enforcers" and The Silencers' very tasty but different follow-up, "Romanic," which had the band trying some different things to varying degrees of success.  To my subjective way of thinking, "Sidewalk Romeo," "1 of Those Girls" and "Words Follow Words" were successful.

But we were talking about David Soul records.  David Soul was "Hutch" in the hit 70s teevee show "Starsky and Hutch."  He also had at least two albums that the missus loved back then and she found them with Jerry's help.  David Soul had a #1 hit in this country with "Don't Give Up On Us," something The Silencers never could do.

So, we had some records but we couldn't enjoy them.  The idea was to get this thing called a USB turntable which works just like any old-fashioned record player except it has a USB out that you plug right into your computer.  You load the software and your computer dumps the files into your iTunes, for example.  I had hemmed and hawed and researched and read up on any number of these turntables, but nobody stocks them and the online comments about them were hit and miss.

So on Christmas morning, my only gift - The Mountain is old and content and does not require gifts on Christmas - was a good sized box full of a Numark USB Turntable.  Missus Mountain had done the research too and I was truly surprised on Christmas.

It was flawless and easy to use and in no time I was crushing to "Head On Collision" and that mop-ass wig-out of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme."  No.  You laugh.  But The Silencers made something really great in rock and roll terms of that theme song.  Slow and grindy and full of synth and then there's that cheeky guitar run transplanted from "Secret Agent Man."  I remembered every note.

Now.  When you convert vinyl to digital, you have to play the record and you have to stand by listening while it plays so you can mark the track breaks.  And you can't do this on "fast forward."  You can't just click and copy stuff from vinyl.  You gotta do the whole album, or at least the tracks you are interested in.

I wanted the missus to have ALL of the tracks.  She enjoyed them the same way I enjoyed my music.  And so I sent her to bed and cracked open a bottle of D.G. Yuengling Black & Tan from the case I had chilling in the snow on the back porch.

A Labour of Love
Now, some of the tunes on "David Soul" are decent.  Some, like "Don't Give Up On Us," are pretty in that 1970's proto-Fogelberg way.  Some, on the other hand, well, let's just say it takes about an hour and a half to get the recording level right and spin the album and import the tracks and name them in your iTunes library.

One Black & Tan lasts a maximum of two songs when you're recording David Soul.  That's five Black & Tans per record, if you do the math.  Which brings you, dear reader, to how I couldn't feel my hands by the end of "Playing to an Audience of One" at 2 a.m.

But it is a labor of love.  Missus will have a cd that she can play on her way to work and maybe, just maybe, her day will be better if she starts out with Hutch.

Shawn K. Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.

1 comment:

  1. I saw my first USB turntable about 6 months after the vinyl collection went in a garage sale.


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