Ever since I set up my new turntable, I’ve been spending a lot of time sifting through the various crates of records in the attic. Deciding what to pull has been an easy yet difficult task, with the primary criteria being:
1. Can I listen to this the whole way through?
2. Do I want to listen to this the whole way through?
There are a lot of albums I purchased for the sake of a single track, which is something I can now do with considerable less fuss via digital streaming or my mp3 archives. Spinning a physical disc is more about sitting back and savoring the long-playing experience, and the qualifying contenders for that represent only a small fraction of the material at hand.
Most of the records in my core collection were purchased over two decades ago. As much as I might harbor delusions of constancy, my tastes have drifted immensely since the early-to-mid 1990s when Oi and Britpunk ruled my audio roost and post-punk was artsy-fartsy anathema. A lot of the records I’ve been revisiting this past week have been either early outliers (Unknown Pleasures) or were picked up toward the end of my punk puritanical cycle (After the Snow).
There have been a few records that I’ve pulled from the crates in contemplation of another spin, only to re-shelve them after the nostalgic contact hit sours into something painful and unpleasant. The most notable of these has been Land of the Lost…
…released The Freeze in 1983.
The band were Boston punk rock legends, most renowned for performing the anthemic title track of the This is Boston Not LA compilation which was used to score a Newbury Comics commercial on V66′s local music video channel.
Like many American punk outfits from the era, the band’s sound drifted between sloppy mid-tempo to hardcore to a demi-metallic crossover stuff. Land of the Lost found the band at their sweet spot — crunchy and punky yet still melodic.
I picked up a copy during the Warhammer Summer of 1991, when a bunch of my college pals (and my little brother) would get together on Fridays to play Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. After the adventuring was done, we’d trundle down to the Back Bay and shop for funnybooks and music at the flagship Newbury Comics store.
The shop had a shrinking but still interesting selection of records, which is where I found Land of the Lost and its follow-up Rabid Reaction one July afternoon. I didn’t care much for the latter, but the former became my album of choice for the rest of the summer — until it was forced down the memory hole by a combination of aggro-industrial and Oi jams.
Considering how much I loved the record, I was a bit shocked how I overlooked it while I was curating this chronological record. I could understand how my disappointment and lack of enthusiasm might blot Poly Styrene’s Translucence from memory, but forgetting The Land of the Lost was something a bit more uncomfortable to confront.
There’s the 1991 I want to remember, with critical hits and comic books and greasy Puritan pizza meeting Maura and punk rock blasting 24/7. Then there’s the 1991 I’d rather forget.
I was nineteen years old, with all the idiocy that comes with that age and my gender. I had embraced punk rock because it offered a chance at reinventing myself, but all I did was swap one set of regrettable tendencies for another by masking my shyness with a pre-emptive alienation in the form of spikes and sneers.
My mom’s death was still a fairly recent trauma, but I used it as an excuse for being an obnoxious little prick while refusing to come to grips with it. I was swimming in hormonal angst, yet I lacked the maturity or socialization skills to be anything approaching boyfriend material.
Today, I can recognize this for what it was. Back them, any self-awareness was obscured by inarticulate outbursts frustration and anger — which meshed perfectly with Land of the Lost‘s recurring themes of persecution and resentment. It’s no fault of the album’s. There were scores of other records that could’ve — and briefly did — filled a similar role. It just so happened that this particular LP ended up being the one.
It’s a damn shame, too, because it’s still top flight stuff despite the profound feelings of embarrassment and guilt it induces in me.