The first album I purchased was ESC4P3 by Journey (1981).
I wasn’t familiar with their music, I just liked the album cover (I should mention that it was a cassette..I had just gotten my first “boom-box”). King Tut had toured through Chicago a couple of years before, and the Scarab meant a lot to me. So did the “1337 sp34k”–Google it if you aren’t familiar–on the cover. I spent much of late 1981 reproducing that cover in my school notebooks. I liked the imagery so much that I bought a baseball tee bearing the same imagery at the record store along with the album, still not having heard any of their tunes.
I had been brought up on The Clancy Brothers and Dean Martin and really didn’t care much for rock music, however I was determined to start “fitting in”. After all, I was 13 and I was tired of telling my schoolmates that rock wasn’t really music. Anyway, Journey is what I got. I told the other kids they were my favorite band, and I hadn’t really listened to another so I suppose it was true. I was informed pretty quickly that Journey was “a band girls liked” which I thought was just about as stupid as everything else. Within a year I had moved on to Motorhead and was in a whole other world of stupid. Before that, however, I stuck to my guns and picked up all of Journey’s cassettes through the Columbia Record and Tape Club. ESC4P3 remained my favorite and I continued to draw that album cover over and over.
It’s kinda funny, but listening to that album startles me to this day. It still has that 90s Platinum feel that simply is what it is…mostly due to Steve Perry being the Streisand of pop-metal. “Don’t Stop Believin'” is the highest-selling digital single of the 20th Century. I did think at the time that “streetlights…people…” was nicely abstract and potent. I can’t honestly say that I like the song. The feeling is more like love; the kind of love you feel when you’re thirteen and simply don’t know any better. It was also one of the first albums I listened to with headphones. Listening in my bottom bunk on my boom-box scared me sometimes. I had to take off the ‘phones and look around the room because it was so “real”. It was real. It was my first album. That’s all there is to it.
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