For the first year or so that radio first had captured my interest, I was hesitant to roll the bones and scan the dial for fear of ending up in some hostile, unfamiliar musical terrain that might warp my psyche.
So, the orange hand indicating frequency on the cheap stereo in my bedroom was perpetually set to 101.9 – Q102. The station – based on the talk ’round the water fountain – tested well with my junior high peers.
As, at the outset, I had no expectations that music would be much more than something to fill the air around me, it made sense to align myself with a station that allowed me to contribute to hallway chatter.
So, it was Q102 which was Top 40 station but with a dose of songs from acts like The Who, Led Zeppelin, and others that would – a decade or so later – become the backbone of classic rock stations.
(at the time, neither Baba O’Reilly nor Black Dog were even ten years old and Keith Moon and John Bonham were still recently deceased)
There was a small cadre of classmates who were fiercely loyal to WEBN.
These kids usually had older siblings in high school and there was something more dangerous about ‘EBN in my mind. It was the station for long-haired hooligans who smoked cigarettes as the station blared from their Trans-Ams.
I doubt that I’d even listened to the station and I likely suspected that doing so would turn me into a juvie.
But as we reached the summer of ’82 – for me, the summer between leaving junior high and entering high school – I began to surf the dial with total abandon and even dial up ‘EBN.
No portal to Hell opened.
The station played some songs that I knew from Q102 so I was familiar with Journey, Joan Jett, and Asia, but there were acts that I’d never heard before – Black Sabbath, a lot of solo Ozzy, Rush, Jimi Hendrix…
It didn’t all resonate with me, but it became obvious that music was not going to turn me into a juvie.
And, the most appealing thing about this new station to me was Frog’s Midnight Album during which each weeknight the station would air a new album, one side at a time.
I had just begun to make a commitment to music, buying a handful of albums on cassette.
Frog’s Midnight Album was a chance to preview candidates that might earn consideration for my meager, hard-earned allowance. Of course, as blank tape was more affordable, the show also allowed me to build up a bit of a collection of albums.
Scanning the albums released as we headed for Thanksgiving in 1982, there are plenty of familiar titles. Here are four songs from some of those arrivals that I seem to recall hearing on Frog’s Midnight Album…
Rush – Subdivisions
I quickly realized upon entering high school that Rush was the only band that mattered for the stoners in band. At the time, I might have known the Canadian trio’s Tom Sawyer but likely little more.
But the group had a hit from Signals - New World Man – that was getting played on all the stations and, upon hearing the album, I became a devotee of the band, eventually owned most of their catalog, and have seen them a couple of times live.
The pulsatic Subdivisions, which chronicled the pressures to “be cool or be cast out,” seemed awfully deep at the time and, if it might sound considerably obvious now, it’s still pretty stellar.
Pat Benatar – Anxiety (Get Nervous)
from Get Nervous
Even had I not ventured beyond Q102 or Top 40 radio, I would have been well acquainted with Pat Benatar as a string of hits made her a fixture on the airwaves in the early ’80s. She was fetching in spandex and her songs were on every crude mixtape I was making from the radio.
I dug the New Wave-vibe on Anxiety. I don’t remember hearing it on the radio, but I do know for certain that I had Get Nervous recorded onto a Maxell cassette courtesy of Frog’s Midnight Album.
Missing Persons – Destination Unknown
from Spring Session M
I do remembering hearing Destination Unknown on ‘EBN that autumn and, as much as I hate to admit it, my newly-developing ears mistakenly though the song to be The Go-Gos (especially as the station wouldn’t always name what had been played).
By the following summer, it seemed all of my friends and I had a copy of Spring Session M. Their sci-fi, space-age sound and the comely looks and style – plexiglass, fishbowl bra cups, bikini bottoms made of posters, and cotton-candy hair – of lead singer Dale Bozzio were irresistible to our teenage ears and eyes.
Jefferson Starship – Winds Of Change
from Winds Of Change
I knew Jefferson Starship for Miracles and early ’80s hits like Jane and Find Your Way Back. I saw them perform the latter two on an episode of Fridays late one night in ’81 (introduced by Father Guido Sarducci and Dawn).
Grace Slick struck me as a force of nature and, if I made a list of favorite female vocalists, she’d have to be considered. I’ve never really delved into the music of Jefferson Airplane/Starship much beyond the radio hits.
But I dug the title song for Winds Of Change when I heard it late one night on ‘EBN. The album got disinterested reviews at the time (if I recall), but I liked the song’s spacey, barren feel and Grace’s howl.