My musical awakening happened in 1983, the same year that Seven and the Ragged Tiger came out. Back then as an insecure middle schooler the kind of music you liked seemed like some incredibly serious business, something along the level of being a Trotskyist versus a Stalinist, or preferring the cop in the Village People to the construction worker. What you listened to defined who you were as a person and what you were about. Kind of like being part of a cult. Even though, of course, that was all bullshit. But it seemed real at the time, and I chose to define myself as a “rocker” by listening to Ratt and Quiet Riot and Van Halen (including wearing a Van Halen painters hat with VH buttons on it, which just oozed cool at the mall). There were certain tweener bands an aspiring rocker could still confess to liking, like maybe Big Country or Dexy’s Midnight Runners or Toto. One of the bands you could not confess to liking was Duran Duran.
I secretly liked Duran Duran. A lot.
I could never admit this, of course, because that would have invited ridicule and wedgies. But to see the “Rio” video on MTV was captivating, and when “The Reflex” came out I just about lost my mind. Fortunately my mom worked at the mall, so during the summers I’d sometimes go to work with her and hang out there all day by myself, much of which was spent in whatever mall chain record store we had in Columbia, South Carolina at the time. Which gave me the opportunity to secretly buy a copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger on cassette, a format that was much easier to hide in my room without the risk not of my parents finding it, but one of my friends. Such things seemed very important back then.
A year or so later we moved from South Carolina to Seattle, which of course could mean only one thing to my parents – road trip. We drove. In a van. With a dog. It took a few weeks as we made some visits to friends and family along the way. We went to Canton, Ohio to visit friends and see the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and then made a stop off in St. Louis to visit some other family friends. Their son Tommy and I had been quite close as little kids when our families both moved to Seattle (my first stint here) at the same time and both families were living in the same hotel for what seemed like forever. Tommy and I would run up and down the halls between our rooms and trade football cards – he wanted the Cardinals, I wanted the Eagles, and we both agreed that Kenny Stabler was cool. These are the things upon which friendships are based.
Tommy also had a sister who was a couple of years older, and though I’m not sure how it came up during our visit to St. Louis, she learned I had a copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. She also thought she was pretty good at Intellivision baseball, which led to a bet – she put up a dollar against my Duran Duran tape. I was even more entrenched in my rockism to the point I couldn’t even allow myself the guilty pleasure of “Union of the Snake” any longer. As I recall I won the game pretty handily, but gave her the tape anyway. I wonder if she still has it…
This was a no-brainer for a Crosley record – an album so popular that it sold a ba-jillion copies, yet is dated enough to have landed in lots of dollar bins, making it supremely un-rare. I found a playable copy the other day at Half Price Books and figured “why not” since I had some store credit. And I’m glad I did. Because at my age I can admit to liking whatever I want, and as the Beastie Boys said, “and if you don’t like it then hey fuck you.”