Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blood on the 8-Tracks, Track Seven: You Can’t Go Home Again:

So, what to do with all of these old 8-tracks? Do I try to enjoy them again by re-buying them? Do I let sleeping dogs lie? (And, as you’ll see below, there were some real dogs.)

And if I do buy them again, do I get them in CD format? mp3? VINYL?!

As I said in the first of at least seven too many posts link about this, when deciding whether to re-buy an album, it pays to remember that I may have already played it out. In other words, no matter how good the record is, is it worthwhile replacing it if I’m just going to listen to it once and just file it away? Like plutonium, but in a good way, every record has its own half life.

And my tastes have changed, too. I don’t always know if a record that seemed great to Jaybee-the- pimply-fifteen-year-old will still seem so to Jaybe-the-grumpy-old-man-who-scares-the-four-year-olds-who-pass-by-his-house?

I have to keep this all in mind when considering which 8-tracks to replace. (You’d think I’d give World Peace this much thought.)

So how’m I doin?

Replaced So Far:

Alone Together 8 TRack.jpg

When the odd song played on the radio, it epitomised the obscure-yet-classic-sounding solo albums of the early seventies. Actually sitting down to listen to such albums can prove disappointing. Not here, though. While the songs don’t convey a strong personal identity (a common flaw of many such “classic” solo albums) they are tuneful and well produced. This version of “Only You Know and I Know” beats the hell out of the Delaney and Bonnie version. A vinyl copy basically fell into my lap, and my life is better for it. A-

And this is what the original vinyl looks like. Pretty cool, huh? (Things that look like vomit are cool, right?)

Alone Together Vinyl.jpg


This double album showcasing Stephen Stills temporarily salvaging his career avoids sequencing hell, dividing it’s four sides neatly over the four tracks. And it fits on a single CD! It would be all downhill from here for poor Stephen, though. A-

Songs for Beginners.jpg

There are more good songs here than Nash ever wrote for CSNY, so you wouldn’t blame me for thinking he didn’t have it in him. So it was a very pleasant surprise, that I finally got a chance to replace last year. Good then, excellent with the sequencing fixed. A-

St Dominick's Preview.jpg

Not as brilliant as Astral Weeks or Moondance, but a little sharper than either Tupelo Honey or His Band and Street Choir, this one suffers only from a bit of schizophrenia by mixing radio friendly short ones, with long slow ones, but Van brings it all together nicely in the title cut. But I do miss how “Independence Day” would bleed into the other tracks on the 8 track, making everything sound like it was recorded on a boat on a foggy ocean in the middle of the night.  A-

Let it Bleed.jpg

A true Roommate Mike garage-sale special. For the Stones, it’s actually a bit uneven. “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get WHat You Want” are amongst the greatest rock n roll songs ever, but that causes some of the rest to lag behind. Hidden Gem: “You Got the Silver”  A

The Redundant:

Live Cream.jpg

I loved this record and considered it to represent some of Clapton’s greatest work. It’s reviled by those critics who preferred rock n roll to be shorter and tighter. I understand, but my gut is still in agreement with fifteen year old Jaybee. So I just swallowed the Cream oeuvre whole with the box-set of Those Were the Days. But I just couldn’t win - my favorite track - “NSU” was in a different version.  Whatever. This is still a guilty pleasure.  A-


Superior to the really crappy “David Live”, it’s a good representation of Bowie’s best 70s work. But I've got all these songs already in their original studio versions, so why bother? But if you don’t already have Low, Heroes or Station to Station, it’s highly recommended. A-


Satanic Magesty.jpg

This one’s not bad at all. Just not quite on the level of many other early Stones records. I’ve had less reason to get it since getting the Singles Collection. But someday. Another Mike Special! B+


Remember these guys? This is their first and it’s really good. It’s got the Beach Boy vocals, the Graham Gouldman melodies and that British sarcasm. C’mon Amazon! I’m waiting! A-.

On the Fence:

These are the ones that may may suffer from either half-life or taste change considerations, in order of my increasing hesitation:


Although I loved this record when it came out, and have had a couple of chances to replace it, I haven’t. I’m afraid to. Something tells me that Ritchie Furay doesn’t translate well to other decades. Maybe it’s me.

Crosby Nash.jpg

Talk about not transcending a decade! This has got to be the quintessential half-assed supergroup albums of that time, and yet I’ve got fond memories of it.  If you thrust it into my hands I wouldn’t throw it back at you.

Marrying Maiden.jpg

I do recall it being real pretty, but with song titles like “Essence of Now” and “The Dolphins” you know it’s going to be like talking to a hippie. Pleasant enough but when it’s done, it’s DONE. By the way, the guy actually sings too well. Are you seeing a theme here? I’d replace it but I’m afraid that it’s REALLY going to suck.

Bonnie Raitt.jpg

Bonnie Raitt’s first album. I don't even remember. The sound quality was pretty poor.  And I think it got lost before I got to hear it more than once. Where the hell did it go, anyway?

His Band and Street Choir.jpg

This one was always a bit lightweight for me. I’m more of an Astral Weeks fan. It certainly wasn’t bad, and “Domino” is great, but that’s the only one.

The Real Dogs:

Then there’s the question of quality, ahem, quality:
Loathe as I am to admit it, not every record I’ve ever gotten is deserving of additional plays. Sometimes there’s a reason why something is in the bargain bin. Sometimes you get what you pay for.


One of Mike’s. (I never said he batted 1.000.) And if I gave it the time, it might prove to be okay. But prog-rock has not worn well for me and these guys come across way too serious.

Overnite Sensation.jpg

This one’s all mine. I got thru it once but have no interest in trying again.


I think Mike got this one, but I can understand it. After all, it’s a Best Of. It’s got to have some good songs, right? Well, I gave it a single listen, hated the guy’s voice, and decided that life was too short. I was 22 at the time.

I realize that I’m being terribly unfair here, and could come to enjoy, or at least appreciate these albums if I gave them the time. But sometimes a record just gives off the aroma of “too much work to enjoy”, and these three really stank.

So What Does It All Mean?:

When it comes to music, I pride myself on not looking back. Given a choice between the known and unknown, I’ll almost always choose the latter.  

But it’s only human to want to occasionally relive old memories, even when you know they’re as likely to disappoint as they are to satisfy. Aside from the occasional loser (Thank’s a lot, ELP!)
I did okay.

I guess it’s all a matter of focus and commitment, and what you can achieve when you’re willing to devote your life to something important.

Some people (Ghandi) free a nation from the yoke of colonial rule. Some people (Jonas Salk) find a cure for the scourge of polio. 

And some people (me) move their old 8-tracks to CDs.

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