During the lean and mean times of the early Reagan Era, my mom took a full-time job at a place that manufactured speakers and stereo components. Thanks to the magic of employee discounts and remaindered inventory, it wasn’t long before every member of my extended family boasted a fancy, not-quite-cutting edge soundsystem cast in chrome and simulated woodgrain.
My turn came in the summer of my fourteenth year, when I accepted a three month reduction in my weekly allowance in exchange for a receiver, tape deck, and a pair of 40-watt speakers. A turntable was offered as part of the package, but it would have added an extra month to the payback schedule and my music collection — an assortment of movie soundtracks, K-Tel compilations, and Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms — was exclusively cassette format.
From the perspective of a suburban teen who thought “audiophile” referred to folks who stuck their dicks in the center holes of classical music records, vinyl was a dying format, CDs were the still-exorbitantly priced future, and tapes were the convenient (and easily shoplifted) medium of choice.
(For the record, I never swiped any tapes. I was a good boy with less than ethical friends who would sell me the tapes they swiped on the cheap.)
My acquisition of a turntable was a bizarre and unexpected event. Sometime in 1987, my mom staggered into my room drunk with a record player and three albums from her collection. “I want you to have these,” she said, and swayed woozily as she waited me to hook it up to my stereo system. I don’t know why she did it, but that can also be said about most of my mother’s actions during the last three years of her life.
At the top of the short-stack was a beat-up copy of this…
…Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits, which rested at the top of the album charts for a decent stretch of 1968.
My mom said something about it being the only album my dad listened to when he was in Vietnam. I asked my dad about it last weekend:
“Oh, what? The Young Rascals [my dad still refers to the band by their original name]! Nah, it’s not like your mother said. Tony Summit, the other guy from unit that got sent to Cambodia, had a tape player. Reel to reel, not like a boombox. And he had that album on tape. Except it was the only one he had and he kept playing it over and over again. Still don’t like listening to the Young Rascals because of that. Your mother bought that record. I wouldn’t have.”
So there you have it. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the Rascals, either. Their particular brand of blue-eyed soul was perhaps a bit too blue-eyed for someone who had already delved into the superior source material…
…and their original material was already the stuff of Boomer-centric commercial jingles.
I wouldn’t change the station if they came on, but they’re not something I’d actively seek to listen to….apart from “People Got to Be Free,” which isn’t on Time Peace.
Fun Fact: When my father’s PSYOPS unit was looking for people to participate in the invasion of Cambodia, a bunch of guys volunteered for the mission. My dad and his “Good Lovin’” loving comrade, being the two married men in the outfit, did not step forward. The CO picked both of them because he wanted cautious soldiers instead of wannabe John Waynes. That’s how my father ended up broadcasting “terror messages” from the top of a tank while the Ohio National Guard was firing on Kent State students.