Monday, December 27, 2010

The Singles Maven

When I Bcame "singles buyer" at that Boise, Idaho record store The Musicworks 30 yrs ago, my biggest challenge was trying 2 keep up w/ what Idaho teens might actually BUY when it came 2 45-rpm records.
U2? The Clash? The Records? Judie Tzuke? Probly not.
Queen? Blondie? Billy Joel? The Knack? Oh yeah....
By that time I'd pretty-much stopped listening 2 local radio & was way more in2 buying albums -- when my budget could stand it. But I was 20 yrs old then -- so I bought music & books B4 I bought food....
What I didn't C coming as "the singles guy" was that I was gonna start buying singles again 2 -- & I was gonna get more of them 4 free from the record companies than I was ever intrested in hearing.
At this point, ROLLING STONE music critic Ed Ward's old theory proved true -- lotsa albums can B boiled-down in2 a good single or 2. Especially if you're onna tight budget. So when there were albums out that I lusted after but $$$ was tight, I'd buy the single instead. Or sometimes those generous folks at the record co's (this was the late-'70s, remember) would send out some good freebies addressed "Attn: Singles Buyer."
I bought The Pretenders' "Kid" until I could afford the album, & later grabbed copies of "Message of Love" & "Talk of the Town" 4 the same reason. Ditto Journey's "Daydream" & "People and Places." I grabbed The Records' "Starry Eyes" & "Teenarama" as much 4 the picture-sleeves the records came in as I did Bcos they were great songs & I couldn't afford the album. The Cars' "It's All I Can Do," New England's "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya" & "Hello Hello Hello," The Shoes' "Too Late" & "Now and Then" -- there were lotsa others, & w/ some I never bot the albums -- like w/ The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," & Gary Numan's "Are Friends Electric?"
This was pretty compulsive behavior, & I'm pretty-much still the same way 2day.
Sometimes the record co's sent out some really good free stuff -- advance copies of U2's "I Will Follow," Roxy Music's "Dance Away," Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" & "Never Make Me Cry." But mosta the time "Name" acts didn't need much promotional push, so there were no free promos 4 the singles buyer. 4 instance, I never gotta chance 2 C the Moody Blues B-side that Threshold/Polygram may have mis-printed as "Veteran Comic Rocker" -- at least that's the title the company sent-out in their order pamphlet....
Tho I got sent lotsa stuff by people I'd never heard of & never played, record co's sometimes sent out tons of promo singles 4 songs that SHOULD have hit -- New England's "Explorer Suite," Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg's "Tell Me to My Face," Judie Tzuke's "Stay With Me 'til Dawn"....
About my biggest "success" as singles buyer was helping 2 get local radio 2 play The Korgis' kinda mushy "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime." It peaked nationally in the low teens. It certainly wasn't "Xciting." But there wasn't much Xciting going on at the time.
Local radio didn't needta B prompted 2 play Cheap Trick's "Dream Police" -- tho the best local station (KFXD) never jumped on "Surrender" -- couldn't they HEAR?
Almost NEthing by Queen or Blondie or Billy Joel got played on local radio -- even the weak stuff. "One Way or Another"? Urgh -- try the B-side, "Just Go Away." Now THAT's a great song, & it's FUNNY. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"? Ugh. "Another One Bites the Dust"? Well, I sure woulda preferred "Rock It (Prime Jive)" or "Save Me," or how 'bout "It's Late"...?

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