Amoeblog

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.
 
Gomez
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.”)

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Warrant Frontman Jani Lane Dead At 47

Posted by Kells, August 12, 2011 07:22am | Post a Comment

Jani Lane
(born John Kennedy Oswald), the flaxen-tressed former lead singer of 1980's hair-metal band Warrant, was found dead on Thursday in a hotel room in Woodland Hills, California.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, police found the body of Lane, 47, at a Comfort Inn, with no cause of death available at press time. Lane was best known for the Warrant hit "Cherry Pie," which he wrote and features a guitar solo by Poison's C.C. DeVille. The double entendre-filled video for the song — featuring a barrage of footage flaunting the accolades of Lane's future wife, celebrated Star Search spokesmodel champion turned video vixen, Bobbie Brown — quickly became a programming staple on MTV's Headbanger's Ball when it was released in 1990.

The singer was born in Akron, Ohio, on February 1, 1964. He began his career as a teenage drummer before moving to Florida and playing in a series of metal bands. Eventually he made it to Los Angeles with future Warrant drummer Steven "Sweet" Chamberlin in search of fame and a steady gig.

He was recruited to join Warrant in 1986 and the band released their major-label debut, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, in 1989, spawning the hits "Heaven" and "Down Boys" -- a vastly underrated song that, as far as I can tell, is about a wild child, looking cool on the cheap and ogling, i.e. "the way the street lights silhouette your thighs through your dress." But it was 1990's Cherry Pie that really put them on the map, selling three million copies and realizing their dreams of "making it" as hair-metal superstars. Supposedly, the title tune was written on the back of a pizza box, which can be seen on display at the Hard Rock Café in Destin, Florida.

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OMG! Look What the Cat Dragged In!

Posted by Kells, January 26, 2011 01:08am | Post a Comment
I don't know about you but when I was thirteen years old this is what I thought rock 'n' roll looked like:
Hardly petal fresh but definitely party pretty! Poison celebrates their 25th anniversary this year and rumor mills are a-spinnin' that Bret Michaels is intent on putting together a commemorative tour with a reluctant Mötley Crüe who, at 30 years of "togetherness," accuse Michaels of "trying to will" the bill into being. And why not? It's a dreamy match up of iconic glam-rockery and bitchy cocksureness the likes of which RuPaul's Drag Race can only boast, and don't we know Ru can put on a show! But I digress..

Even if the Crüe doesn't fit, I hope Poison still moves ahead with their tour and, if they have any imagination what-so-ever as to what their audience of once-thirteen-year-old girlies want, they had better play right through all thirty-eight glorious minutes of their recently reissued (on 180 gram vinyl housed in deluxe gatefold, no less) debut LP Look What the Cat Dragged In. The record once described by Michaels as a "glorifed demo" spawned four singles (and, after almost a year of climbing, peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts in 1987, how lucky! Like Mötley Crüe, Poison originally formed under a crap name (Paris; in Mötley Crüe's case, Christmas) and changed it to a lesser crap name after moving from Pennsylvania to Hollywood, where they met their future ("reality") star guitarist, Brooklyn native C.C. DeVille (who apparently won out over Slash in auditions due to personal preferences concerning wardrobe; you know, stilettos over moccasins). Though possibly best known for the sleazy, erectual frustration of songs like "Talk Dirty To Me," "I Want Action" and "Want Some, Need Some," not forgetting the corny "I Won't Forget You" slow jam, Look What the Cat Dragged In serves up more than just a teased tumbleweed of ambition which, given their swift success, surely pissed off a lot of the competition. To revisit Ru, I believe this record to be a portrait of the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent a certain kind of musician had to harness --- however desperate, ripped-off or closeted --- in their quest to make a name for themselves in the unforgiving 1980's Hollywood rock scene, namely "glam." The video for Poison's debut single from Look What the Cat Dragged In, "Cry Tough," is a slice of Hollywood glam zeigeist unparalleled in every aspect -- check it out (p.s. did these guys love Van Halen or what?!):
 

Money Talks: AC/DC and Wal-Mart collaborate for profit's sake

Posted by Kells, October 24, 2008 12:34pm | Post a Comment
One of the best things about working at Amoeba Music is all the stories you get to hear. It seems everyone has at least one really great story starring some celebrity or other. Add to that the countless daily recounts of brushes with the bizarre (I'm sure each location has it's own special blend of resident and transient "street life" enthusiasts) and the many stories from the road told by those touring musicians Amoeba frequently fosters; the odd life-altering event/near death experience sort of yarn is spun as often as are the wheels of the gossip wagon. All this and more than enough stupid jokes and "inappropourri" to swell one's ears and imagination for days. Some of the stories I've heard will stay with me forever and some of the story tellers I'd swear have lived multiple lives.

One of my favorite co-workers I like to trade stories with at Amoeba is dear to me for his deep appreciation of all kinds of heavy metal, especially glam/hair metal. Though he's a bit older than me, I'll never forget the day we bonded over our knowledge of obscure (read: tragic) hair metal bands. Floodgates opened and we discussed everything from Bang Tango's singular hit, "Someone Like You," to Pretty Boy Floyd's album Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz and their singular saving grace (ultimately, their hair). Clearly we could go on for days as, it seemed to me anyway, I had no one else at work with whom I could discuss late eighties Hollywood glitter rock and still feel comfortable with myself afterwards. 

One of my favorite stories this person shared with me involves Warrant, a band that almost always suffered comparison to Poison yet never eclipsed, or even slightly reached, Poison's level of glam-rock stardom. Perhaps that explains why my friend saw them playing in a crappy night club in Fresno. The story is short and amounts to this: at sometime during the gig he stole backstage and lifted a number of items from Warrant, namely a bottle of White Rain shampoo. Now, maybe it's not that funny to everyone, but I clutched my gut in laughter upon hearing this. White Rain! The bottom shelf of hair products! These glamorous guys, who obviously pride themselves on their hair, couldn't get it together to get some Panteen Pro-V or Mane and Tail (being the show ponies they were). I have to admit that I was and still am inclined to think the worst of Warrant -- I was never a fan, not even a little, of their music and their frontman, a man called Jani Lane, frightened me in an Edgar Winter way. To me their music was a tepid, obvious attempt at following Poison's lead (and so was Jani Lane's romance with"spokesmodel" Bobbi Brown, who happened to be Poison frontman Bret Michael's ex-girlfriend) and it was even rumored that Warrant's two guitarists Erik Turner and Joey Allen hadn't played even a shred of a note on Warrant's debut album though they received credit for it. To top it all off, the most annoying girl in my school, who was also my best friends' neighbor and confidante, loved them and Warrant quickly became the crux of our rivalry. And so the very thought of Warrant roughing it on the road with dollar store bought White Rain set me snickering. It was too perfect. And to think that Warrant's debut album was titled Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich-- hardly.
 
Later on I got to thinking about all those wanna-be rock stars featured in Penelope Spheeris' documentary Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and my laughing slowly subsided into a kind of internal choke. Remembering all those faces staring directly at the camera proclaiming, "Oh yes, I'm gonna make big one day. Definitely. Without a doubt," really hit home. I wonder just how many rockers made the pilgrimage to Hollywood with a mind to find fame and fortune. I thought of my brother (pictured second from the right with his band Trauma Kamp) and how he moved to Hollywood around that time with only what I can imagine to be the same dream of making it big in the music business (and let me tell you, not only did he survive the strip, he's got endless yarns of killer stories about the madness that is, er was, er probably still is, the Hollywood rock scene). Suddenly I was furious at my friend. How could he steal such vital items from a hair metal band on the road like he's stealing food stamps from the needy? The ridiculousness of my anger started me laughing again and I giggled my way over to my dusty video shelf to look for my copy of The Metal Years, only to find it missing, stolen perhaps by a fellow coworker and metal enthusiast whose name just happens to rhyme with the latter syllable of the word Warrant.

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The Employee Interview Part V: Brent James

Posted by Miss Ess, May 26, 2007 04:28pm | Post a Comment
Brent James
7.5 years employment
Information Control


Q: What was playing in your house when you were a kid?

BJ: Janis Joplin, "Mercedes Benz" and lots of  Willie Nelson, lots of The Doors, Fleetwood Mac.  Basic 70's things that are very important to my formative years.

What was your first show?

The Shirelles at a classic car show in Turlock, California.  No lies, my dad was the president of the Cam Twisters USA! He still is.  That was it!

That's crazy. ...yet fabulous. What was the first band that you were really into?

Ratt.  They made me want to be a musician.  It's true!  Why lie, you know?


What is your favorite venue here in the city?

Cafe du Nord.

Yes, I love it.  That's one of my favorites too.  What is your favorite band right now?

I just gotta say I listen to a lot of old things right now.  Ruth Etting and vocalists of the 30s and 40s is what I am listening to a lot at home, besides the usual.

Wow, I didn't even know that you listened to that kind of thing.  What do you think is the best local band?

I've got to say barbarasteele, but they are not a functioning band anymore, so my next choice would be Black Fiction.  They are amazing live, and there's lots of fur!

Well! So I know you're not really the guilty type, but do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Amy Winehouse
-- and Charlie and His Orchestra which was a Nazi propaganda swing band.

Geez, I can see why you would feel guilty about that.  Favorite instore of all time here at Amoeba?

Let's see...The Bell Rays and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  However Queens of the Stone Age in the Hollywood store was just amazing. [ed. note, Brent worked at the Hollywood store for a while a few years ago.]

What was the Hedwig instore like?

It was the touring program that played at the Victoria Theater here, it was just scaled down version of the film performances, and John Cameron Mitchell was there too.

What's a great record you think more people should listen to?

Good question.  I think anything you think you wouldn't like right out of the gates is something you should make yourself listen to later.  You tend to miss a lot of things with the pre-programed "I don't like it" mindset.

So what is your favorite Madonna video?

"Bad Girl".

I don't know that one!

She gets murdered in it!

What is that available on?

The Greatest Video Hits Volume Two.

Then what is your favorite Janet Jackson video?

"Escapade."



Oh I love that one!  Favorite hair band video?


Poison, "Talk Dirty To Me."



Why?


Because of they have lots of slides and silly string and it was the introduction to Poison.  Glam, glam, glam!

Favorite moment in the Star Wars Trilogy?

Um, Luke realizing that he has to leave home to help his friends.  It takes the death of his aunt and uncle to figure that out, but he realizes, "I'm done with this".

So touching!  Ok, now what is your favorite horror film of all time?

Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The original.

That was an easy one for you!  What is your favorite part of working here at Amoeba?

The interaction with random strangers, figuring out what everybody is into ,which is always just Amy Winehouse or Lilly Allen. Friends all over the world!

Thank you for your time!  That was so fun!

You're welcome, girl!