Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Dictators - "Weekend" (1975)

I do my homework in a bar.

Sea Hags - "Half The Way Valley" (1989)

Some lazy mother from the groovy '70s is the reason we're all here tonight.

The Skinny With Steve Athey

If I remember the story correctly, the first person who spent a dollar in Skinnie's Records was the M-80's voice box Eddie Pierce. Since that initial transaction in 1987, countless vinyl junkies have gotten their fixes via the store's stocked bins. Whether you're Yngwie Malmsteen or yours truly, owner Steve Athey will often greet the chosen stash with an interesting anecdote (i.e., "Mission Of Burma: Loudest band I've ever seen."). Beats idle chatter about some crappy membership program at fye's register, that's for damn sure. Nearing 25 years of existence, Skinnie's has survived a coup by a bloated drug store, downloads from dipshits who've never dropped a tone arm, competition from facial-haired fly-by-nighters and changing tastes of young folks who'd rather borrow Mom's jeans than her Joan Jett records. Below are recounts from conversations that've taken place between us in the past. Grab a bottle of Boylan Black Cherry Soda, eyeball the Down At Delilah's picture disc and join Steve and me at the counter for some salty spiel.

Gunther: This might be the obvious question to end all obvious questions, but what was the first album you bought with your own money? Is it still a favorite in 2011?

Steve: First album I recall purchasing with my own earned income was Deep Purple's Burn. Not as big a favorite as their previous albums, which I obtained shortly thereafter.

Gunther: If I'm not mistaken, you grew up in the Greater Baltimore area. The Orioles had some great seasons during that time period. Nonetheless, what made you want to emulate Ritchie Blackmore instead of Rick Dempsey? Did seeing Kix/The Generators over four dozen times also assist in your choice of weapon?

Steve: I grew up in western Maryland, not Baltimore. I'll go out on a limb and assume that Rick Dempsey is some sort of athlete. I have never had an interest in sports. The previous question sorta answers the emulation factor to the point of my 2nd guitar purchase (the one Yngwie wanted to buy from me). Kix/The Generators/The Shoes were the closest thing I had to a "hometown" band that I got to see at high school- type social settings and the 1st introduction of going to a "bar" to see a live band. So they did leave a lasting impression. At least I can say it wasn't somebody like Dave Matthews...

Gunther: Why did you decide on a relocation to Tidewater? I believe you were working at the GE plant in Portsmouth for a time. Was there always a plan to open a record store, or did some choice words with a supervisor expediate a change in careers?

Steve: Came to Tidewater in May 1984. I was looking for a job, and it seemed more socially redeeming (punk rock). Worked for the GE credit department, not the plant. I never really "conformed" in a job setting. Plus, I would eventually be let go due to my medical condition indirectly (the brain aneurism). The shop was already being run for 3-4 years by a previous person who was getting a divorce. So between me being "unemployable" in the real world and my passion for anything that rocks, it all fell into place.

Gunther: The first time I visited Skinnie's was at the original West 21st Street location in 1989 or thereabouts. Think my brother Brian purchased the Misfits' Walk Among Us, while his friend A.J. opted for the Ramones' Mania on tape. L.A.M.F. looked cool enough, but I didn't hear the album until several years later. When did you realize that starting the store was a good decision?

Steve: Not sure about a "good decision," but at the time, it seemed like my primary option.

Gunther: Besides the tightly bunched racks of music and the camaraderie, what I miss most about the West 21st Street spot is the pool table that was briefly located near the store's entrance. Shooting stick with Rice, Jeff and others complemented the wild rock 'n' roll on the juke very well. What are your most memorable moments from the mothership? Also, have you ever blocked a sale, because someone attempted to buy the "wrong" album by an artist? For example, suggesting Motley Crue's Too Fast for Love over Generation Swine?

Steve: Every day, there's a memorable moment. Hopefully to someone who comes in here, gets told to set down Generation Swine and get Shout At The Devil (or TFFL).

Gunther: When Morrissey stopped into Skinnie's to do some shopping, how would you describe the encounter? Was he besieged by adoring fans/autograph hounds or left to browse? How did the in-store meetings with Thurston Moore, Danzig, Michelle Branch, etc. pan out?

Steve: The Morrissey encounter was very anticlimactic and has been told TOO many times. Thurston visited a few times. At that time, I believe he was funding an elite record store, so he was making purchases for it, I presume. I was very relieved with most of his purchases, as they were not the most "consumer-friendly" ones. He did pick up a copy of the No Room To Dance album. This was in the middle-90's, so the current nostalgia trend was certainly not present. Most any other "celebrity" encounter has been pretty routine. Like anyone else, there is something they're after, can't find and sometimes it's here.

Gunther: It wouldn't be a proper discussion among us without mentioning the Sea Hags. In spite of my qualms with the cover art, you told me to give the tape a fair listen. Of course, I now recognize the Sea Hags as sleaze incarnate. Sample lyrical lift: "You're only as good as your shittiest song/And a watered-down Shirley Temple lasts twice as long." Have you sold their disc in the long box? If so, was the buyer feted with a ticker-tape celebration?

Steve: That Sea Hags album got a lot of play at the time, but honestly, one of the many bands at the time that came and went.

Gunther: Is there a day in Skinnie's history that stands above all others? Regarding the store's impending silver anniversary, will there be a feast filled with balloons, beverages, bands and BBQ?

Steve: 25th will be a landmark from my accountant's prospective. Like every year, I'm sure there will be a fair amount of revelry.

Gunther: The Dictators or New York Dolls?

Steve: I'll go for the underdog like always: The Dictators. At least I got to see them fairly early on. Ross the Boss AND Adny both came by (separate occasions). Seeing the Dolls last time around was very anticlimactic. They're out with a new lineup opening for Motley this summer. Pass.

Skinnie's Records
431 W. 22nd St.
Norfolk, VA 23517
(757) 622-2241

Mon-Fri: 10 am - 8 pm
Sat: 11 am - 8 pm
Sun: By appointment


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AC/DC - "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)" [1976]

Real men eat haggis, wear kilts and play bagpipes.

Rainbow- "Street of Dreams" (1983)

You would've heard this song on FM-99 WNOR while waiting in line for a grinder at Zero's Subs in Churchland. Where have you gone, Joe Lynn Turner?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The First Step

It's a long way to the top...

With a few moral adjustments, televangelist sexpot Joyce Meyer could've been this generation's Blanche Devereaux. How come Edy's has never introduced an ice cream fortified with chunks of Whatchamacallit or Kit Kat? What songs would comprise the ultimate Husker Du mixed tape? My knock on Jehovah's Witnesses is their fascination with doors. With whom would I dine at a particular bistro in Downtown Norfolk? Amber Tamblyn or Jessica Biel? Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series is the greatest sports moment I've seen in my lifetime. Whose faces would be on a Mount Rushmore of Tidewater Virginia? Have I come close to ending my second stint of sobriety? I want to hold a beautiful baby again. What childhood game did I play with a pencil and marble? Did the Shadowlawn Bear cost Mary Kay Mallonee her position at WAVY-TV 10? My reasons for disliking The Dave Matthews Band are largely associative. What extinct McDonald's menu items do I miss the most? How would I defend Sammy Hagar's work with Van Halen? I should call my grandfather more often. When did I become a fan of the Baltimore Orioles? Remember when laundromats were makeshift arcades? Rainbow's "Street Of Dreams" is an example of a great "radio" song. Where can I find a rogue Walgreens that'll transfer album covers onto T-shirts? Which three ESPN personalities would I like to meet? I might have stopped talking to a female friend, because I wanted her to be the person she was in 1999. Why is "Crazy People" one of the best movies ever made? Remember when Taco Bell "thought inside the bun" and served "burgers" and fries? Lee Ving, Al Bundy and someone else would be on a list of Great Americans. Should cornhole become an Olympic sport? What would be stuffed inside the Hot Pockets of your dreams? It's amazing that WVEC anchorman LaSalle Banks can be called a "world champion." Why did I start ANOTHER blog? When did I discover my fear of heights?

I'm Gunther 8544, and I'll attempt to traverse these and other notches that make up the ladder of The Rung. May I never stop climbing.