Jerry’s basement revisited

It was a little surprising to read the comments on last week’s post and to learn that you dig the records we listened to in Jerry’s basement in the mid-’70s. Your affirmation is much appreciated.

We certainly weren’t trend-setters among our peers, and we certainly weren’t all that sophisticated. Jerry reminded me that we also listened to “The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2,” which came out in 1973.

That we listened to good records in Jerry’s basement simply reflects what we heard on the radio at the time.

We grew up in the glory days of free-form FM, deep album cuts and adventurous DJs. Even though we lived in a small town in central Wisconsin, we were exposed to many sounds beyond the Top 40 after the sun went down. All that, plus the drinking age was 18, so you heard plenty of new stuff at parties.

I can’t think of any other way we would have heard Montrose or New Riders of the Purple Sage. Having records by Sweet and Led Zeppelin simply meant you liked the singles and perhaps had heard some album cuts. Having records by the Guess Who and Steppenwolf simply meant you liked the singles.

(Richard Pryor had to have been a word-of-mouth recommendation or something heard at a party. None of those cuts could be played on the radio.)

In the early ’70s, we had only one real record store in our town. The guy who ran Bob’s Musical Isle was said to have been a bit of a perv. Regardless, BMI was one of those ’50s-style record shops that hadn’t aged well in the ’70s. So I bought records at Prange’s department store until a laid-back hippie opened another record store, the Inner Sleeve, in 1975.

I would like to say I bought a lot of cool records at Prange’s and then the Sleeve in the mid-’70s. One look at the iTunes suggests otherwise.

Yet in the early ’70s, Aerosmith covered “Train Kept A Rollin'” and “Big Ten Inch Record,” a couple of old ’50s R&B tunes by Tiny Bradshaw. Curious about that kind of music from that time, but wanting to go a different direction from all the “American Graffiti” stuff so popular at the time, I picked up “Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade” and started digging it. Still do.

“Too Much Monkey Business” and “Nadine,” Chuck Berry, 1956 and 1964, respectively. from “Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade,” 1967. My vinyl copy is this 1972 reissue. It’s out of print. Both cuts are available on “The Chess Box: Chuck Berry,” a 3-CD comp released in 1990.

Can’t say whether we ever played this in Jerry’s basement, though. Not sure whether the fellas shared my enthusiasm for Chuck Berry.


Filed under August 2011, Sounds

4 responses to “Jerry’s basement revisited

  1. Uhh, no. We woulda kicked your Chuck Berry-lovin’ ass out to Jelinek Avenue. This, in spite of the fact that we all loved Bob Seger’s “Get Out Of Denver”, which was three parts Chuck Berry and one part CCR (think “Travelin’ Band”).

    And no love for BTO? WTF???

  2. Scott Thomson

    Actually spent a lot of time writing a reply to the first “Jerry’s Basement” post, but it was too much “Can’t name a single song by Montrose, but” sort of thing. We all have different musical experiences, and no doubt, had I made a similar post, there would have been someone looking over my shoulder, intoning “In my day …” It’s still on my computer, but I doubt I will share it. Too many Rusty Nails in the bullpen …
    That said, I am grateful to have been at the ground floor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. Some of the songs I remember listening to no doubt we’re Oldies in their first first go-around as such. But I remember Elvis’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan — my Dad didn’t let us watch the whole thing, because of those pelvic gyrations. We watched all the first Beatle appearances, and I was a total Fab Four freak — collar-length hair (all that was permitted), the confrontations with the Stones and Dave Clark Five fans.
    I grew up (after age 12, anyway), on WLS and KAAY, and later graduated to Radio Free Madison on WIBA-FM. Most of what I listen to these days was recorded in the late 1960s or early ’70s, with the exception of people like Peter Gabriel, Little Feat, the later Steely Dan and Pink Floyd, and Supertramp.
    I do remember Nadine, perhaps from its second run, and a lot of other Berry stuff. Had the good fortune to see Chuck do the duck-walk at the ill-fated Iola rock fest in June 1970 — if you can refer to a bad-chemical-induced afternoon, as good fortune. Nugent, Iggy Pop and Brownsville Station, too. That, a couple months after seeing the Dead, Rotary Connection and Illinois Speed Press at the Sound Storm fest near Poynette.
    Didn’t need Jerry’s basement, after all.

  3. People need to be reminded often of what a bad-ass Chuck Berry was. I first heard ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ by the Yardbirds, but once I heard Chuck’s OG there was no going back.

  4. tom hock

    My roommate at Michigan State had that Chuck album in 1974 it was an import as I remember – we played the beegeebus out of it…essential listening for all !

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