Amoeba Bloggers Answer: What Was Your First Album?

Posted by Billy Gil, March 6, 2012 07:09pm | Post a Comment
I recently was at Amoeba Hollywood and overheard a customer telling an employee Davy Jones had died. I hadn’t heard the news yet. She brought it up because she was buying Katy Perry records for her daughter. She said her daughter didn’t even have a record player — she just wanted every bit of Katy Perry merchandise she could get her hands on.
The only artist I can ever remember being that obsessive about was The Smashing Pumpkins, but that was in high school. But it got me thinking about those first tapes, records, singles etc. that everyone got as a kid.
For me, the first album I ever bought on my own was Ace of Base’s The Sign on cassette. I had always liked music, but at 11, I had just started to pay attention to what songs were on the radio. A friend made me a tape from the radio and “The Sign” was on it. I loved it. In the coming weeks and months, albums by Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, Green Day, and my beloved Pumpkins would follow, but really it all started with Ace of Base for me. Though if I’m being technical, I had a cassette single of Paula Abdul’s “Promise of a New Day” that I listened to constantly when I was like 9, but I didn’t buy that — I won it at a cousin’s music-themed birthday party, at which my dad dressed himself and me as Simon & Garfunkel. I had no idea who they were. I think I was Paul Simon.
While I’m embarrassing myself, I thought I’d extend the question to the other Amoeba bloggers: What was your first album? Not kids’ music, but not just the cool stuff, either — the tapes we once listened to repeatedly and then put away in a drawer somewhere once we realized how lame they were, though I’m still on the hunt for The Sign on vinyl. Here are their answers:
Eric Brightwell
the cure kiss me kiss me kiss meMy first record was Luciano Pavarotti's My Own Story, a compilation of “musical highlights of his spectacular career.” They used to heavily advertise it on TV when I got home from school, and I was hooked. My first cassette was Peter Gabriel's So. I'd liked the singles from it, but when “Big Time” came out, I was obsessed. My first CD was The Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. I was introduced to it by a German exchange student named Ina. Before she left I rode my bike into town to a Wal-Mart to get a blank cassette to dub it. I loved it so much, I thought it warranted being purchased on CD. 

Job O Brother

First vinyl album: Chipmunk Rock The Chipmunks
First vinyl single: Crush On You The Jets
First 8-track: Street Player Rufus
First cassette: Mesopotamia The B-52's
First cassette single: Been Caught Stealing Jane's Addiction
First CD: Upstairs at Eric's Yaz
First CD single: Makes No Sense At All Hüsker Dü

I still listen to and love all of these albums. I would be remiss if I didn't give an honorable mention to the Superscope Storyteller Series, whose fairy tales were backed by beautiful classical music, which made me the lover of the genre forevermore.
Ricky Frystak
My first single was “The Cattle Call” by Eddie Arnold. My mother got it for me in the late ’50s.
As I was completely enthralled by the yodeling on the record, and as I had a record player of my own already at the age of  5 or 6,  I played the hell out of it. The other thing around that time was a Sandy Nelson album called Let There Be Drums, as I had been given a snare drum and cymbal by my parents, and was playing percussion on all the pots and pans in the house to boot.
Then The Beatles hit and the rest is history.
Joe (The Vinyl Beat)
Paul Revere and the Raiders Here They ComeI'm a little older than most of the bloggers, so I'm going back a little further. The first album that I bought was Paul Revere & The Raiders Here They Come.  I still think it’s a great album.  It had tunes like “Louie Louie,” “You Can't Sit Down,” ”Money,” and “Do You love Me,” and it rocked real hard. I listened to it over and over because it was the only album I had! I got a few more while in high school, but couldn't afford many. I didn't start collecting until I went to college at UC Berkeley. On Sunday a few of us would go to the Alameda flea market at a drive-in near the Oakland Coliseum. I'd come home with a pile of scratched up LPs that I had spent a total of $5 on. Soon I had many crates full and I never looked back.
kiss destroyerMy family did not have much money. So whatever one of us got we all shared. When I was in first grade, my father took my sisters and I record shopping. I wasn't into music and I remember all the surfer/hippie freaks in the record store scared me. Together, my sisters and I decided on getting KISS Destroyer over Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic. We eventually got the “Walk This Way” single from Zody's, so that sufficed our need for Aerosmith.
We would play the album when our parents weren't home and grab some tennis rackets to play air guitar while Destroyer blasted in the background.
The first single I bought was years later when I was in eighth grade. It was Fun Boy Three's “The Telephone Always Rings” I saw the video on MV3, a local new-wave video show that I couldn't stand but would watch daily. I liked the song because it was weird and it had the guys from The Specials in it. By then, I was into buying LPS and cassettes. I couldn't find the The Fun Boy Three album so I settled on getting the single. I bought it at Spider Records in Gardena, Calif., where later I got all my early punk records.

Rachael McGovern

I remember CDs being expensive — or at least perceiving that they were expensive — when they were first introduced. It was just me and my mom for many years when I was growing up, and CDs were not something we could afford, as much as we both loved music. My mom remarried when I was 12 years old, and we moved to New Delhi, India, where my stepfather was working on assignment. This is important for one reason — the accessibility to new American music was pretty slim during that time overseas. The details are a little hazy, but I remember my stepdad coming back to India after a business trip to the States with two CDs for me and my stepsister to choose from — EMF's Schubert Dip or Boyz II Men's Cooleyhighharmony. She and I shared a room so, in effect, we got to share the albums. But I choose Cooleyhighharmony. “Motownphilly back again...” Oh man, did I love that record. Still do. It was way, way better than that EMF album.
(Also of note that year: During a stay in a New Delhi hotel while our house was under construction, I was able to watch Asian MTV, and that's where I first heard/saw Right Said Fred's “I'm Too Sexy” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”)


Brad Schelden

Whitney HoustonI think my life-long obsession with buying music started when I was 10 or 11. Before this I remember owning lots of Disney LPs and those storybook LPs that had whole movies on the album. I remember having Star Wars and E.T. I can't remember what exactly was my first album purchase. But I know it was from the music department of Gemco in the mid-‘80s in Long Beach. Gemco closed down around 1986. But I remember thinking that store was really awesome because they had everything. I would always go to the music section when I would go there with my mom. My first album was probably Whitney Houston in 1985. Her first album on LP came out on February 14th, 1985. The We Are the World album was released in March of 1985. And that was probably the second album I ever bought. This was of course followed by albums from Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, The Go-Go's, Tina Turner, and Dead Or Alive.
Kelly Sweeney
Aside from a casual assortment of Disney LPs, the first 45 I ever owned, er “inherited” (read: borrowed from my older sister but never returned), was the disco-ized John Williams score for Star Wars known as Star Wars and other Galactic Funk by Meco. Around the same time frame, I also inherited a Gap Band 7” with “Burn Rubber” and “Early in the Morning” on it, and I'd hold many a private dance party in my room with just these three songs, including the “Bare Necessities” from my Jungle Book record thrown into the mix every now and again. Chaka Khan's “I Feel for You” was the first 12” single I ever owned, it gifted to me after I requested it at the skating rink (my first time ever asking the DJ to play anything — again my sister was involved). My first LP was Madonna Madonna, but I can't remember how I got it. I suppose like magic it just appeared in my life when I needed it to, but then I'm sure my sister had something to do with it as she was something of a Madonna impersonator at the time, and a really good one too. She won a lip sync contest at the mall doing a flawless rendition of “Burnin' Up,” dance moves from the music video and all. All other Madonna tapes and things I procured over the years were copies from friends’ collections. My first new cassette purchase caused a rift between my mom and I — she took me to Peaches and promised to get me “whatever tape I wanted” for my birthday. I wanted Poison's Open Up and Say... Ahh! but she refused to buy it because of the cover (which was censored but still offensive I guess) and the suggestive title. So much for the “whatever I wanted” promise, mom! With my hopes deflated, I settled on Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue after wandering up and down the aisles for what seemed like an eternity. Deep down I knew I'd eventually get some Poison in my life somehow. I'm sure I dubbed all the singles off the radio — I can't imagine what life would've been like without cassette tapes. Now, here comes the real embarrassment: My first CD I ever purchased with my own money was either Extreme's self-titled CD or Queensryche's self-titled EP — I bought them both together at Sam Goody during my “drop me off at the mall” days. I listened to them often, almost always in private. Out of all of these firsts, I still possess the 45s and the Madonna LP.
Chadwick W.D.
My first album was the New Mickey Mouse Club w/ Lisa Whelchel who later found fame on The Facts of Life TV show. My mom and I had very little at the time but our little record player meant the world to me and this LP was played non-stop. “Walking the Dog” was the standout track for sure.
prince 1999

I can remember the first time that I purchased an LP by myself, with my own money.  It was 1984 and I bought it at the Tower Records on El Cajon Blvd (San Diego), which was one of three records stores I grew up near.  The other being a Wherehouse (that our own Rubin Meisel happened to have been managing at the time) and the third being Off The Record, which would later give me my first record store gig.  Anyhow, the record I purchased was Prince's 1999.

Prince 1999 sleeve

I distinctly remember flipping through the bin and being very confused by his first LP — the ’70s hair and bareback Pegasus riding just didn't jibe with what I had seen on TV. As I walked home I tore off the shrink and pulled out the inner sleeves to find imagery much more in line with what I expected. Of course I proceeded to buy more items from the purple one — including the Let's Go Crazy 7”, which got me banned from the house of some kid who lived up the street. Evidently this kid's mother wasn't a big fan of “funking until the dawn” etc. Unfortunately I lost my original copy of 1999 on a drunken night about 10 years later.  However, I met my wife that evening so it all worked out just fine.

Audra Wolfmann
1984 was a magical year of artistic awakening for me in many ways. The A-Team was on TV, “Do They Know It's Christmas” was on the radio, and Joe Dante’s Gremlins was blowing my mind. It was also the year I came into the possession of my very first record. It was “Weird Al” Yankovic’s  7” single of “Eat It” and it was beautiful. My older sister had countless albums — everything from Philip Glass Glassworks to Bow Wow Wow’s The Last of the Mohicans — and I was envious. I coveted everything in my sister’s bedroom, but I wanted nothing more than her growing record collection (and maybe her waterbed).  After several weeks of filibustering the parents, I had in my sweaty, tiny hands Weird Al’s single. I played it non-stop and even gave the B-side (“That Boy Could Dance”) a run for its money as well. At some point years later, it got crushed under the weight of my newfangled CD collection in a move and broke in half. My career as a music fan has always felt directly connected to Weird Al and that fateful single and that wonderful year of 1984.

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Chaka Khan (4), Davy Jones (2), Whitney Houston (11), Ace Of Base (1), Nirvana (35), Madonna (47), Paula Abdul (3), Poison (5), The Cure (44), The B-52's (3), Yaz (8), Paul Revere (1), Kiss (17), Aerosmith (5), Emf (2), Boyz Ii Men (2), Extreme (1), Debbie Gibson (3), Prince (66), "weird Al" Yankovic (5)