Shuffling Slowly Toward Sound Fidelity

It was during this week in 1982, that I graduated from grade school.

I’m not sure if it was because of our small town’s agrairian past – when not everyone went on to high school – or if it was the chance to inject excitement into the sleepy hum of daily life, but the event was treated with considerable pomp and circumstance.

As a kid that, like a lot of kids, had no use for formalities, I thought most of it was an inconvenient hullabaloo.

But there was an upside to losing a Saturday to ceremony, pictures, uncomfortable clothes, and time spent with adults – cash.

With some of that cash, I made a major purchase, a table top clock radio with a cassette player manufactured by Lloyd’s.

It had only been a year or so since my new interest in music had spurred me to relocate a radio from the basement to my bedroom. It had been on my old man’s workbench or the garage for as long as I could rremember.

It was a battered, oblong box – one corner of the grill covering the 45-sized speaker had separated from the unit and the cord was a scoliotic snake.

It served my purposes well during those early months as I explored the world of radio. And, in the time it took for me to open a cardboard box, it had become a childhood artifact.

This new purchase – what my buddy Beej dubbed “the Lloyds beast” – also made obsolete a portable cassette player from the ’70s that I used to listen to the handful of albums I owned.

(it was also used it to make primitive mix tapes of songs recorded by positioning the built-in microphone of the device as close as possible to the speaker of the radio)

This new acquisition – what my buddy Beej dubbed “the Lloyd’s beast” – was, though merely a small step toward fidelity, a great technological leap forward for me.

Beej had an older brother. He was already reading Stereo Review, yammering about specs and Hirsch-Houk Laboratories, and putting together a stereo system.

I would soon begin to eye the magnificent components he was acquiring and go in the that direction, too.

(as soon as I was able to scrape together the funding, a slow process that neccesitated my buying one component at a time over the course of an entire summer)

But, twenty-nine years ago, the “Lloyd’s beast” was possibly my most prized possession.

Here are four songs that I vividly recall from that time…

Human League – Don’t You Want Me
from Dare

Had I had interest in music a few years earlier, either disco or punk might have been the “new” sound that my friends and I would have adopted as our own. I’m grateful that, instead, New Wave and synthesizer bands from the UK turned out to be our find.

Human League’s Don’t You Want Me had to have been one of the first songs by a synth band I heard and I it hooked me. My buddy Streuss was obsessive about the band, spending the next year or so focused on collecting every single, 12″ inch single, EP, remix, and whatever else he could acquire by the Sheffield band.

Toto – Rosanna
from Toto IV

I have no qualms in acknowledging that I own most of Toto’s albums up through the mid-’80s and I rarely hit skip when one of their songs pops up on shuffle.

Rosanna was a constant on the radio during the summer of ’82 – all summer long – and I don’t think I ever tired of it. It’s still as joyously infectious all of these years later.

Kim Wilde – Kids In America
from Kim Wilde

We didn’t know much about Kim Wilde when she arrived with the New Wave bubblegum of her song Kids In America. She was a comely blonde and I imagine that’s all we needed to know.

But we did love the song. It bounded along. It had a chanted chorus. It was about kids in America and we happened to be kids in America.

It had it all.

J. Geils Band – Angel In Blue
from Freeze Frame

Although I was fairly lukewarm about the song Centerfold, I’d gotten a copy of J. Geils Band’s Freeze Frame as a gift and most of the rest of the album I loved. I don’t think any of us knew that the band had actually been around for more than a decade and was known to music fans as America’s answer to The Rolling Stones (I, at that time, certainly didn’t).

Although it wasn’t nearly as big as Centerfold or Freeze Frame‘s title track, Angel In Blue – a wistful ode to a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with the obligatory heart of gold – was a favorite then and, like that waitress, it hasn’t aged a bit.

7 Responses to Shuffling Slowly Toward Sound Fidelity

  1. Perplexio says:

    When I was about 9 years old or so there used to be this cat that would show up on my parents back porch. She didn’t have a collar, I never knew her real name so I named her Rosanna after the Toto song. This was long before I was into music I had no idea who performed the song… Little did I know years later they’d be one of my favorite bands and I’d be exchanging the ocassional emails with their guitarist and even have telephone interview with their former vocalist, Joseph Williams…

    I believe there was a 24k gold 24 bit Deluxe remaster of Toto IV released back in the late 90s. I never picked that one up, however I did get the Chicago Transit Authority 24k gold 24 bit SBM (Super Bit Mapped, not “Severe Bowel Movement” which I think is a much more fun acronym) for Christmas when I was about 16 or 17.

    • I seem to recall that version of Toto IV.

      You could have named half the strays in the neighborhood from Toto songs.

      • Perplexio says:

        LOL, too true! I’m surpised Toto hasn’t released a compilation package of all their songs featuring women’s names in the titles:

        Goodbye Elenore

        Not to overthink it too much but cases could also be made for 99 and Mushanga as the former is set in a world where people have numbers instead of names and the song is about 99 and the latter if you listen carefully to the lyrics it seems to be the name of an African girl but the band has never been too clear on that.

      • barelyawakeinfrogpajamas says:

        Or, they could put out an album of songs for women whom they haven’t gotten to yet.

  2. Perplexio says:

    According to a recent interview I read with Steve Lukather Toto is done recording new material. He said that going forward various incarnations of Toto will do live reunion gigs and tours for fun (and/or to raise money for bass player Mike Porcaro and his family). Apparently Mike’s ALS has advanced quite rapidly to the point where he can still talk now but that’s about the limit of his muscle control. The 2010 and 2011 Toto tours were done largely to raise money for Mike and his family to cover his medical expenses. I’ve heard there will be a live DVD released this summer of one of last summers concerts to raise a bit more money for Mike. I’ll snatch that one up as the line-up for these tours (with Joseph Williams back on vocals, both David Paich & Steve Porcaro back on keys, and special guest Nathan East on bass… and of course Lukather on guitar) is the one I’d preferred to have seen when I saw them live back in 2006.

  3. […] 1. J. Geils Band – Angel In Blue from Freeze Frame (1981) Shuffling Slowly Toward Sound Fidelity […]

  4. […] I was listening to music through the most basic of means. […]

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