Wailers Worlds Away

Marley cover1

Stripping wallpaper means, among other things, moving furniture for the umpteenth time. Too heavy to slide the shelving units with them, hundreds of albums must be moved.  Accomplished in fits and starts, the process sputters for each stack offers a glimpse of the past.

Marley cover2

It had been a while since I looked carefully at this “Promotional Copy Not For Sale.” This is the sort of album to which only those select people who worked for the record labels or radio stations had access. Heaven knows how it made its way into the collection.

Marley cover 3

The double album set, circa 1978, is housed in a single, windowed cover.  All in nearly new condition, the bus windows offer four possible views, depending on how you insert the two albums in their paper sleeves. It is chock-full of interesting tidbits including a fold-out poster reminiscent of a tour that is now worlds away.

Marley cover 4

Interior sleeves
Interior sleeves

Marley Sleeve AB

The Poster
The Poster
Back Cover
Back Cover

Bob Marley fan or not, it is an impressive find.

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It’s Not Far Back to Sanity

While considering 1981, I happened upon four words under the heading: Science

“AIDS is first identified.”

Early on, the disease in the U.S. appeared relegated to gay men in California and New York, many of whom had been intravenous drug users.  I remember seeing newspaper articles that detailed a mysterious sickness, unusual cancer and pneumonia that was taking the lives of those previously healthy, young men.

It’s embarrassing now to admit that it wasn’t unusual for casual conversation to take it to the lowest common denominator, insinuating that “they” deserved it.  Religious extremists insisted it was God’s retribution for what they judged as immoral or abominable behavior.

For everything good I thought about President Reagan at the time, it saddens me now to realize that his initial silence about the burgeoning AIDS epidemic—even given statements from the CDC, cost the lives of many Americans, lives which lacked dignity and decency that human beings should afford one another.

The din of activists spiraled ever upward, rising to an angry roar as people continued to die, victims of the disease and its complications.  It wasn’t until 1984, when national publicity surrounding Ryan White, an American middle school student, caused AIDS to become known to the public as anything other than a gay disease.

It took that, followed by the public announcement of leading movie man, Rock Hudson, to bring what had been water cooler fodder from whispers to public discussion and debate.  Hudson, a regular woman-magnet on screen, and personal friend of the President and First Lady,  sparked controversy for his on-screen kiss with an actress who he had not informed prior.  But it was then that I noticed that the public began to realize that AIDS and HIV had the potential to creep its way into the lives of nearly anyone, and it shook the ground beneath them.

During the early years of the rise of the disease, it must have been horrible for those who had to face no hope, no cure, no understanding of the cause, and few willing to help.  They were lepers of the modern age, stigmatized by fear and lack of understanding.  It is comforting to know that while HIV remains a global epidemic today, medicines can stem the tide.  Certainly not enough people have access to medications.  Those who are fortunate enough to have medication, live much longer today with a higher quality of life.

Kids, let me tell you from personal experience, it’s absolutely surreal to recognize that while AIDS affected only hundreds of American people in the early 80s; it has since catapulted to today’s fourth leading cause of death worldwide.  Thinking of it in those terms taxes the brain and the heart.

It took eleven years from the time AIDS was identified until someone I knew personally, died from AIDS/HIV.  Even then, he wanted his disease kept confidential.  It was then that I truly understood just how lucky I am.  It could easily have been me.

Lyrics from Sailing, a Christopher Cross tune from 1981, come to mind as I consider the losses.

Front

Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Fantasy, it gets the best of me
When I’m sailing
All caught up in the reverie, every word is a symphony
Won’t you believe me?

back

Then what happened?

Whitney – There was Only One

Album cover art is a favorite topic of mine.  Though I had previously been sifting through my collection from various musical genres in a quest to find the most interesting cover art, it seems fitting to pay homage to singer Whitney Houston, who, according to the Washington Post, died today at the age of 48.

Whitney - Album Cover

Her 1987 Whitney album (shown here) is one I picked up in my travels.  It boasts the keen eye of Clive Davis with her hits, I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) and Didn’t We Almost Have It All.

Typical of album covers of the 80s, Whitney is no exception.  The front features a photo with Whitney’s engaging smile.  The reverse is a plain background of gradient blue where the song titles appear in the upper left, and nestled in the lower right is a black and white baby photo inscribed with the words “Whitney Elizabeth Houston 3 months.”

Until today, I have made it a point, in the case of album cover reviews, to remain silent with regard to the music contained therein or of the particular artist.  Today is an exception.

Sadly, there is no doubt that Whitney Houston struggled to maintain her sobriety, and her voice seemed damaged.  I think that the world has lost a lady with an extraordinary voice, the sound of which could once illicit goosebumps to even the most stoic listener.

Baby photo on album cover back

Rest in peace Whitney.

Rumours

Truth be told, I recall little from 1978, save for playing my Rumours album over and over until scratched beyond recognition and I had to get a new one.  I count myself lucky to have seen Fleetwood Mac that summer with 64,999 of my closest friends at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.

One event from 1978 stands out beyond that, however.  My father took me to see the then popular (and since classic) movie, Animal House.  A film that today’s RottenTomatoes.com calls “vulgar, raunchy, ribald and occasionally scatological,” offered much needed comic relief.  It was the first R-rated movie I had seen.  While it may have been an unusual way for it to happen, for me and Dad, it marked a transition into a new, more adult-like relationship between us.

I covered 50 of my favorite movie lines in a previous post, one of which was from Animal House.  The scene is a classic.

Then what happened?