Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Ten Influential Albums - Day 2

This is the second post in a series of ten documenting the albums I consider influential. My first post, found here, provides some insight into the rationale behind this journey. The first album I selected was the Soundtrack to "Oliver", which I discovered in 1973 at about age 8. I am moving chronologically and this post lands us in 1977 (age 11 or 12).

In 1977/78, I was in Grade 8 in Kingsville, ON,  It was a different time in elementary schools: Acceleration (Skipping Grades) and Retention (Failing Grades) were the norm. Consequently, one might be in a classroom with students who differed in age by 4 years...more if it was a split grade.

I had become good friends with Jari, who had arrived from Finland that fall. He did not speak English, so they put him in Grade 4. I was fortunate to have been educated in England when I was 5, so I spent my entire elementary school life a grade ahead. Consequently, 14 year old Jari was in Grade 4 and 12 year old Marc was in Grade 8. However, on the tarmac for road hockey (back when we brought our sticks to school) - we were either team-mates or fierce rivals (depending on the daily draft).

Part way through my Grade 8 year, with graduation on the horizon, they moved Jari to my class - in part, it was because of his age, but it was also because he had quickly mastered English. This is always a remarkable phenomenon for me. I'm currently on my fourth year of Rosetta Stone Spanish and still struggling...kids have such remarkable linguistic flexibility!

That summer, I got invited to Jari's birthday party. He lived quite a distance from me and I knew he had high-school friends. However, when I arrived at the party, I felt incredibly out of place. I was, without question, the youngest person there. I can't remember what I had bought him for his birthday (or, rather, what my parents had bought me to give him), but everyone else seemed to be giving him albums.

One of them bought him MeatLoaf's "Bat out of Hell" - with an album cover that made it seem dangerous to me - little did I realize it was essentially harmless Broadway show tunes. Regardless, I knew that my parents wouldn't approve of the cover...regardless of the music. This was the same reason I had to get ELO Discovery instead of KISS - ALIVE II a short time later.
Another friend bought Jari the Debut album from The Cars. In retrospect, it is really a guitar rock album - but I had never heard anything remotely "electronic" - and it seemed avant-garde and exciting. I managed to get a copy of it a few weeks later from the Devonshire Mall in Windsor - spending hard earned babysitting and newspaper delivery money. I think it was $2.99?

A few years later, "Moving in Stereo" would be indelibly stamped in my teenage brain during an unforgettable scene featuring Phoebe Cates in the film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". It is still an album that calls me back. I'll hear a song on Radio Paradise or in a movie soundtrack and throw it into a Spotify mix. I still wish I had that original vinyl - I loved the fun and simplicity of the album cover too.

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