Being the total music geek that I am, I can tell you the first CD I ever bought. Well, make that the first two CDs I ever bought, since they were purchased at the same time from the same shop. In 1987, the Arcade Shopping Center in downtown Cleveland saw the opening of a store exclusively devoted to nothing but CDs â€“ I believe it was called CD World or some such â€“ which was a radical concept in those days when vinyl and cassettes still ruled. I was working my very first advertising job while still in high school, responsible for paste-ups (ah, those pre-computer days) and running general errands which took me to the big city. Those trips were looked forward to with great anticipation, since I could go CD shopping.
I didnâ€™t even have a CD player until 1988, but I was happy to buy CDs and record them at my buddy Jeffâ€™s house onto high-quality metal (!) cassettes, since they sounded so much better. In the dawn of the CD era, record companies didnâ€™t just release everything on the new format â€“ they picked and chose the titles carefully, thinking this expensive, high-end format would appeal to more esoteric and varied tastes. The thinking was, Stacey Q fans werenâ€™t going to spring for a CD of â€œTwo of Heartsâ€, but REM fans? Oh, yeah.
Thatâ€™s why the first two CDs I ever purchased were the Bolshoiâ€™s â€œFriendsâ€ CD that also featured the â€œGiantâ€ EP tacked on, and the bandâ€™s follow-up, â€œLindyâ€™s Party.â€ I was a big fan of the band since picking up the â€œGiantsâ€ EP in 1985 after seeing the video for â€œHappy Boyâ€ in the wee hours of MTVâ€™s â€œ120 Minutesâ€ show. From there, I got the â€œFriendsâ€ LP (I always thought the title was â€œFriends or Fiendsâ€ based on the typography of the cover â€“ if you have it, you can see what I mean), and I was ecstatic to see that both of these were available on one CD. I hadnâ€™t purchased â€œLindyâ€™s Partyâ€ on any format yet, so that was a nice bonus.
Anyhoooooâ€¦the Bolshoi formed in the early 80s in Leeds, England, headed by vocalist/guitarist Trevor Tanner who possesses one of those voices, like Morrissey, Lloyd Cole or Robert Smith â€“ you either love it or hate it. The man drips smarm, snark and sarcasm with each syllable. I, of course, loved it. Why are the Bolshoi featured during my spooky Halloween week? The lyrics. Dark, foreboding, yet thereâ€™s a hilarious line or aside tucked in here and theres. For example, â€œA Wayâ€, the lead single from â€œFriendsâ€:
â€Money’s scarce, but family honour
â€¨Brings it home, brings it home
â€¨And down the shop, the tongues they snicker
â€¨TV dinners – beer and liquorrrrr, yeah
â€¨Skeletons fall out of cupboards
â€¨Curtains drawn – fall open – to allow
â€¨The light – shows up the dust
â€¨That plays around your face
â€¨Yes you get by
â€¨AwaaaAAAAAaaaYYYYYYYyyyyy!â€(sing that last part with a high, whiny falsetto for maximum effect)
The earlier â€œHappy Boyâ€ is even creepier with the lines:
â€such a happy boy today
blew my family clean awayâ€
which makes you think, â€œuh oh, someone got a .45 in the face,â€ until you hit the next line:
â€going to university
whaddaya think now?â€
So, whatâ€™s it all about? Iâ€™m not entirely sure, but I love it.
You may recognize â€œLindyâ€™s Partyâ€™sâ€ first single, â€œTV Manâ€ â€“ MTV played the video quite a bit on â€œ120 Minutesâ€ back in the day. â€œLindyâ€™s Partyâ€ was a little more acoustically focused than their debut, with unsettling quiet passages, but still plently of hooks.
After â€œLindyâ€™s Partyâ€, the Bolshoi went their separate ways, to be Lost in the â€˜80s. However, both albums are still in print as imports (except now the â€œGiantsâ€ EP is gone from the â€œFriendsâ€ reissue â€“ WHY???). If you like what you hear here, by all means, check them out â€“ theyâ€™re uniformly good stuff.
Neither album charted.