Replica for a Heavyweight

Will EMI's remastering of 11 classic albums with the original packaging on CD and 180-gram vinyl make you buy your favorite records one more (last?) time?

When the earliest Stones CDs came out, I gave my vinyl copy of Exile to my friend Bill, one of the first and most stubborn of the world's CD holdouts. He finally caved and bought a player in 1993, after the lure of actor Ted Knight's atrocious Hi Guy! album coming out on disc proved too irresistible.

Grand Funk
We're an American Band (1973)

Being a chronic record-club joiner and quitter, I remember owning We're an American Band for a short while before trading it to a friend. The record-club versions were usually cheaper reproductions pressed on pop-and-click vinyl and without bonuses like the cool stickers offered in this reissue. This album marks the crucial point in Grand Funk's career when the guys added a keyboard player and started having Top 40 hits, which pissed off their hard-core fans. Even the cover scared 'em off.

Between the buttons, behind the zipper: EMI's reissue of the Stones' Sticky Fingers offers a brief encounter with Andy Warhol's legendary cover art.
Between the buttons, behind the zipper: EMI's reissue of the Stones' Sticky Fingers offers a brief encounter with Andy Warhol's legendary cover art.

Check out that Lynn Goldsmith nude centerfold of the boys romping in the hay. It made their more macho fans long for the days of Survival two years before, when Mark, Don and Mel at least had the decency to wear loincloths and look like carnivores. Like Exile, We're an American Band came in one of those "Unipack" covers, where the record slides out of the center of the opened gatefold sleeve. While cheaper to make, these covers fell out of favor because it was hard to roll a joint on them. Quite a difference from Grand Funk's 1970 "red album," where the image of Don Brewer's creased face in the center of that sleeve saw more pot resin than any other figure in rock history.

Paul McCartney and Wings
Band on the Run (1973)

My vinyl copy of Band on the Run was a party casualty, its cover having been fatally hurled upon by a casual school chum, Tommy Lichetti, who promised to replace it, and, of course, never did. I kept the record and its poster inside another Wings album, the not nearly as good Wings at the Speed of Sound.

If you wonder why Paul loved Linda so much, look no further than the album's poster collage of band Polaroids. Linda received photography credit for it and yet it contains the single most horrible photograph of her ever reproduced, the kind most people would've destroyed before it could oxidize any further. She probably included it in a bid to be "just one of the guys." Sure, it grossed out some fellas, but I seem to remember it was always girls like my friend Marcie Kleban, who really loved Paul, that always brought up Linda's unshaved armpits. "They're the same length as Denny Laine's," she cried. I'm sure that poster was many a young lad's first introduction to the strange and catty world of the fairer sex.

Dreamboat Annie (1976)

I once loved a girl named Sara Pace, and in the short while we were together, I had to listen to a lot of Heart. Not that I minded. They were easy on the eyes and ears back in the day, not as awful as they would become in the power ballad years when Ann Wilson would be humbled into screeching Diane Warren lyrics. Even so, I always thought Heart was ripping off Led Zeppelin. I even said it to Sara once, which had an adverse effect on the number of times she would let me in her house when her mother wasn't around. If I'd been thinking straight, I would've admitted to her that Robert Plant was ripping off all of womankind with his dainty waist-tied blouses and dramatic hair tosses. Such was the "do you want your ass kicked" aura surrounding Led Zeppelin that it was unthinkable to ever call him a poseur. When I lost Sara to another guy, I was inconsolable and no longer wanted to hear women sing cock rock. So I traded it to a sympathetic pal for a real pussy of an album -- Queen II!

The Steve Miller Band
Fly Like an Eagle (1976)

There's a space in my collection between Will Success Spoil Mrs. Miller? and The Best of the Mills Brothers, and that's where Steve Miller would've resided had I not given my copy of Fly Like an Eagle to Sara. We only got to go to one stadium concert together, and even though it was pretty boring whenever Steve strayed away from the hits, we got to hold hands and kiss under the moon and stars during his dull blues jams like "Sweet Marie," so I was always grateful to him for that. I think it was also noteworthy for being the first time I thought of leaving a concert before the encores to beat the traffic coming out. Sometimes when I hear "Fly Like an Eagle" today, I still think of Sara. But mostly, I just think of Express Mail.

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Live Bullet (1976)
Night Moves (1976)

I never bought either of these Bob Seger albums for the simple reason that I never liked his music or his band all that much. Even back in the '70s, when he was still a relatively young guy, he'd always be reminiscing about his puberty like it had happened sometime during the Paleozoic era. In two years' time, he'd be writing songs Kenny Rogers could cover. In 10 years' time, he'd start looking like Kenny Rogers.

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