Jerry’s basement

Explosions have rocked our basement this summer.

Our rec room, of course, is where our 16-year-old son and his pals gather to play video games and watch Netflix.

There is an old 26-inch TV to which the Xbox is attached. The old stereo components are still there, too. A turntable, a CD player, a receiver and two small but nice speakers, all dating to the early ’90s. One day, our son found out that the TV was hooked up to the stereo system. If you turn on the receiver while playing video games, the explosions blast through the speakers.

It was not all that different in Jerry’s basement in the summer in the mid-’70s.

We didn’t have video games, of course. We had APBA, a table-top baseball game with cards and dice. There were three, four, five, sometimes six of us. We played in the afternoon, went home for supper and at times resumed at night.

Fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Jerry also had a stereo. If memory serves, it was one of those old compact stereos from which the turntable dropped down and the speakers swung out. We cranked up the volume as best we could, but there were no explosions.

Jerry didn’t have many records — none of us did then — but we often played most of what he had. So much so that I remember most of those records to this day, more than 35 years on. They included:

“Montrose” by Montrose (1973). We were listening to Sammy Hagar before he was Sammy Hagar.

“Desolation Boulevard” by the Sweet (1974). Try as I might, I can’t remember hearing the original version of “A.C.D.C.,” which Joan Jett has so memorably covered.

“Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin (1975). I wasn’t much of a Led Zep fan, but I loved “Boogie With Stu.” Still do. Last summer, one of my son’s pals — a guitar player — said he’d love to get a copy of this record. You should have seen his face when I handed him the vintage vinyl a couple of weeks later.

“16 Greatest Hits” by Steppenwolf (1973). This, for us, was classic rock. I really didn’t dig them much at the time. Neither did our JV basketball coach.

“The Adventures of Panama Red” by the New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973). Um, so, yeah.

“That Nigger’s Crazy,” by Richard Pryor (1974). Hugely influential in honing our collective sense of humor, which at the time also was being shaped by the National Lampoon (the magazine and the radio show), Cheech and Chong, George Carlin, Monty Python and Johnny Carson.

Again, fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Hey, we were 16. It was 1973. Here are some more sophisticated artists we weren’t digging in Jerry’s basement. If we knew then what we know now …

“Dirty Ol’ Man,” the Three Degrees, from “The Three Degrees,” 1973. This was their first studio album. It’s full of Gamble and Huff’s great Philly soul. This is a great tune that was bigger in Europe than in the States.


“Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” Barry White, from “I’ve Got So Much To Give,” 1973. This was his first album. There was a time before everyone knew Barry White was synonymous with seduction. This was that time. (This edited version of this Four Tops cover is from “Barry White’s Greatest Hits,” 1975. The original LP version which runs longer.)


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5 Comments

Filed under August 2011, Sounds

5 responses to “Jerry’s basement

  1. You rocked harder than I did in the Seventies. I think “Aqualung” was about as hard as I went. I did have the Three Degrees album, too, though. One of my first girlfriends and I found “our song” on it.

  2. The Zep and Steppenwolf were right up my alley a few years later. Sweet hit me much later, and all the soulful stuff even later, but a very solid playlist.

  3. Shark

    Way to go, Jeff. You took me back to 1975. At my high school, many of us would head to the gymnasium after having lunch to waste the rest of the lunch period before heading back to class. I don’t know who pulled this off, but someone got the okay to play an album on the sound system to the gym which originated from the school office, but the audio was routed only to the gym and to no other room in the school building. “Desolation Boulevard” by Sweet was always a favorite with “Sweet F.A.” and “Fox On The Run” getting us fired up for our afternoon classes. I didn’t really get into Led Zeppelin until my senior year (the following year in high school) but “Trampled Underfoot,” and “Down By the Seaside” soon became favorites. “Kashmir” sent shivers up and down my spine…and still does…but in a good way.

  4. Jerry

    You forgot the Guess Who (… do you wanna rain dance, wanna rain dance, wanna rain dance, with me?)

  5. I was a huge APBA fan in the 70′s as well…

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