Friday, January 6, 2012

My First Album - Def Leppard - Pyromania


In the early 80’s, as well as most of the 70’s, I was a sheltered child.

I discovered rock n’ roll through a neighborhood buddy whipping out his older sister’s Kiss collection and being stunned by the images of spacemen and demons, and the sounds that subsequently rattled around my brain. They were so savage! So aggressive! So filled with testosterone that my five or six year old self could hardly contain himself.

As soon as my Mom caught wind that I was listening to the devil’s music, well . . . that was enough of that! I was already enrolled in a strict Christian school that abhorred music and dancing, and really, I believe the characters from Footloose were based on my upbringing.

Fast forward to 1983-ish, and I’m around 11 or 12 years old and I’ve made friends with an older school chum who reveled in the music of the Beatles, The Police, Devo and who turned me on to Mtv. That was really the last day of any semblance of innocence that I had. There was Michael Jackson dancing with zombies, Prince struttin’ his stuff and singing about a little red Corvette, Van Halen figuring that it was just better to jump. Wow! What was this new, colorful, exotic and sometimes erotic channel filled with music?!? And then my world collapsed into light . . . and I saw for the very first time . . . a hooded figure speaking some gibberish before the explosive concussion of drums rattled my little television set on its stand. Def Leppard. “Rock of Ages”.

I had to have that album! So . . . I scraped up enough money to send a friend on what I considered a suicide mission. A girl from up the street mentioned that she was going to the record store, so I gave here my hard salvaged cash, probably about $10 . . . enough for the cassette tape and some left over for risking life and limb to get me my contraband. I paced up and down the hallway, every third circuit I’d peek out the window to see if the friends’ family car was back in the driveway. Pure torture, but I knew . . . I knew that the glorious sounds of this wee British band were soon to be mine . . . ALL MINE!!!

And once said friend arrived with said cassette tape, I didn’t simply tear the shrink-wrap off of the case. I basked in the glow of the damn thing and gingerly peeled the cellophane from the cases exterior. I relished every second of that moment . . . my first album that I purchased with my own hard, er . . . well, I didn’t really earn the cash so much as I found coins littered here and there around my house. I pulled the cassette from the case, removed the J-card to review the liner notes, and insert the cassette into a portable tape player that my Mom used for recording lectures.

I can’t remember the details of the next eight hours, but suffice it to say, I listened to a lot of Def Leppard. Loved “Foolin’”, “Rock of Ages”, “Rock Rock (‘til You Drop)” and “Too Late For Love”, songs that would soon be staples of my pre-teen day to day . . . always hated “Photograph” (song just bugged me then as much as it does now). And, though now, I can’t listen to that Pyromania without wanting to retch, it was important on so many levels. It introduced me to Def Leppard, which if you started with the band during the Adrenalize or Hysteria era’s, I pity you. Pyromania led to High and Dry, and then that led to other like music such as Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot . . . you know, all the music that’s reviled today. But then that led to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Motorhead, Queensryche, and more . . . which then led to the Big 4 (kinda freaky to think it was only 2 years from Def Leppard to Big 4), then the underground, then back above ground, and ultimately to The Ripple Effect and Ripple Music.

Youthful rebellion led me to follow the rock n’ roll path and one that I constantly find fascinating today. This musical journey of discovery isn’t simply moving forward. It’s kinda’ like time traveling a little, stumbling on a cool piece of music history from my childhood or before, and no matter when I discover it or from what year it came, it’s always fresh and new!

The lone regret I have is that I don’t have the original copy of Pyromania that I fretted over so much on that one day so long, long ago . . . coz’ man, that would be cool to see again. Kinda’ like seeing an old friend again.

-          --Pope JTE




1 comment:

Dimaension X said...

No matter how far into horrible pop and terrible songs these guys have delved, this album remains one of my favorites from the early 1980's - great songs and great playing.

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