Digging through record crates can bring about some unusual discoveries. Some digs may lead you to pick up an album for it’s absurd cover image alone, others for a band name that is so bad-ass that you wish you came up with it, and a record or two may grab you for one song only among the other dozen you could otherwise take or leave. This time, my vinyl shopping path brought me something I didn’t expect.
Inside of my recently acquired copy of Journey’s third album (Next), there was something of an Easter egg. Accompanying the ring-worn liner notes were some other papers of interest. Given the hippy-looking, mustachioed men on the album cover, along with the mellowness of the record (particularly Side One), I might have expected rolling papers.
Of course, Cheech & Chong did deliberately include such leaf wrappings in an album of theirs, but that type of thing never really appealed to me. These papers, on the other hands, opened my decidedly non-bloodshot eyes as I pondered their origins. The sheets contained handwritten notes from whom I assume to be the album’s previous owner. From the look of it, these came from a rather organized music fan. The lists contain rows of albums and songs beneath a date, which span the range of February 5, 1990 to April 3, 1991.
Don’t get me wrong, I was planning on buying Next regardless, but you don’t see something like this too often when music shopping. Their intention is a complete mystery to me, so I can only hazard guesses.
The first thing that is obvious is that there are more than enough hints that these notes are from within the country. There are far too many listings of Rush, Blue Rodeo, Kim Mitchell, and other Canadian artists of lesser stature to be a coincidence. Not only that, turning to the back of some of these sheets revealed a page from a Canada-centred World War I history test, and a partial map of Niagara-On-The-Lake. Records have been known to cross borders, but this eliminated the slight possibility that they came from a foreign land.
Further more, some of the sheets are addressed. The most prominent of these addresses is 48 Church Street, which happens to be an extremely common street name. Given the area I’m from and where I located the record, it could potentially be pinned to downtown Toronto, which Google Maps directs smack-dab in the middle of the Church/King intersection, or in Ajax, the current location of a podiatrist’s office. That still ignores dozens of other potential locations. One sheet also points to another address, which appears to be an apartment building in Welland, Ontario. More questions than concrete answers, I’m afraid.
Is this a list of records that this person acquired on each date? How would this account for any duplicate occurrence on the list, unless he or she liked having multiple copies of albums. Possibly, this is a list of a record dealer or a store owner. Much of what is listed seem to be albums that were relatively current to the dates written such as Jethro Tull’s Rock Island, INXS’ X, and Sting’s The Soul Cages, which could explain the frequency of their being in-stock.
There also happen to be a few recordings that I have been meaning to get a hold of, like Peter Murphy’s Deep, Traffic’s The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, and Thin Lizzy’s Bad Reputation. It contains several other items I haven’t even heard by name, so in a way, this is as if someone wrote me a shopping/recommendations list 27-28 years ago. This could be an unexpected source for me to expand my horizons further, which I’m always appreciative of. Thanks, stranger!
This person may simply have been tracking a radio station’s playlist. There are a couple key terms that point me in that direction. References to ‘Album Feature’ are found next to the likes of Brand X’s Product and Strawbs’ Hero and Heroine (my favourite find on the lists thus far), as well as the words ‘Album Replay’ next to a repeat listing of Steve Hackett’s Voyage of the Acolyte.
The list seems like a blend of progressive rock, pop, new wave, goth, post-punk, and hard rock, so I’m not sure which type of station would spin such eclectic tunes. I know little about the workings of the Canadian college/university radio programming habits, but could these playlists have originated from some on-campus source? That would be my best bet.
I still consider this to be an open case as several questions continue to spring to mind:
Why, of all places, was the sleeve of Next chosen to stash these notes?
Was it because it’s an album that would remain hidden deep within the owner’s collection?
Or was it the opposite, a record regularly in the rotation?
Did this person stuff notes in other Journey albums?
Did he or she think Journey ‘sold out’ when they hired Steve Perry as lead vocalist?
Am I wasting too much internet space even pondering this whole thing?
Should I just chuck the bloody things in the garbage bin, and get on to matters of more importance?