My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

top three albums

My interest in ham radio grew from my interest in listening to AM radio broadcasts in the 1960s, especially talk radio and rock radio. My favorite talk radio station was WNBC with Long John Nebel and his fellow talkers; my favorite rock stations were WABC with "Cousin" Bruce Morrow, WINS with Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers, WPOP with Lee "Baby" Simms, and WWCO with Conrad Taylor. I also dabbled in rock radio DX and liked to listen to Bud Ballou on WKBW when conditions pipelined the Buffalo station into the Waterbury area.

I bought lots of 45s and LPs. Remember when LPs came in two flavors: monophonic/monaural ("mono") and stereophonic ("stereo"). (45s came only in one flavor, mono, until the first stereo 45s started showing up in the late 1960s.)

I bought mono LPs exclusively because I owned a basic circa mid-1960s mono record player. When 45s started showing up in stereo-only, I was pushed over the brink and wanted my own stereo, so I began hacking my record player.

I discovered that Lafayette Radio sold stereo tone arms for a couple of bucks, so I bought one and used it to replace my record player's mono tone arm.

Next, I built a set of stereo headphones using a pair of 2-inch speakers, glued inside a pair of small plastic funnels, attached to a plastic hair band, and wired directly to the stereo tone arm.

Stereo nirvana at last, but not very loud stereo nirvana!

I had a small electric guitar amplifier/speaker and since I had abandoned my dreams of joining The Ventures, I decided to put the amplifier/speaker to use as part of my stereo system. I rewired the tone arm so that one channel was fed to the amplifier and speaker built into my record player, while the other channel was fed to the guitar amplifier. I tweaked the volume controls of the record player and guitar amp just so and I achieved louder stereo nirvana.

I joined a record club and began amassing a collection of stereo LPs and even replaced some of my old mono LPs with stereo versions. My hacked record player sufficed as my stereo system until about the time I went to Woodstock ("3 days of peace & music").

Circa Woodstock, my stereo hacking days were over and I went the Heathkit route, building a stereo receiver kit. I bought a turntable and pair of bookshelf speakers from the local stereo store and so it goes.

In my humble opinion, the best rock 'n' roll came out during the years I was hacking my record player, but three albums (remember why they were called "albums"?) from that era stand-out as my favorite albums of all-time:

Rubber Soul by the Beatles

Aftermath by the Rolling Stones

Today! by the Beach Boys

What great albums! Almost every song on these three are great. I listen to them often and never grow tired doing so.

One more thing: I prefer the longer British versions of Rubber Soul and Aftermath, but the shorter American versions aren't too shabby either. To tell you the truth, I owned the American versions first and only bought the British versions years later when I found out that Capitol and London had shortchanged us.

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