My First Album

The first album I owned was Still Cruisin' by the Beach Boys. It was 1989. Shoulder pads were big. Hair was bigger. The Beach Boys were on Full House the previous year. I was eight.

Eight and easily impressionable, as I'd love to say I selected this cassette because of some deep appreciation for campy music, but I can't. Not even close. In fact, I didn't have my dad snatch this cassette off the rack at our local Strawberries music store because I loved the beach bum lyrics of Wipeout; or because listening to Kokomo took me on a wondrous three-minute mental mini-vacation.

No, my superficial self just liked the cover. It reminded me of a red spaceship. This is stupid, of course, because the cover most certainly is not a rocket—it's a car.

Regardless, I still managed to wear that magnetic tape pretty thin, and looking back, the album—a compilation of Beach Boys hits inspired by Kokomo's inclusion in the movie Cocktail—was actually a great little collection of tunes, if you happened to be into the Beach Boys. Turns out I was, even at age eight, so I played the hell out of Kokomo, Wipeout and I Get Around, among others.

I played the cassette on some kind of portable Walkman knockoff. It definitely wasn't a Sony, as my parents refused to buy popular name brand electronics (we had a Sylvania television, and when the Reebok Pump came out, I got the L.A. Gear version).

Speaking of the folks, they had a thing for soundtracks that year, so in the ol' Subaru wagon mom would subject me to Les Miserables and Glory, both cassettes, over and over and over again. In Dad's boxy Audi 5000, the higher-end tape deck played far cooler tunes. Jerry Lee Lewis kept asking me to kiss him, baby, during the title track off the Great Balls of Fire soundtrack, while at other times, The Dixie Cups had me hooked on grandma shootings with their impromptu version of "Iko Iko" (included on The Big Easy soundtrack) Fun fact: Iko Iko was recorded off the cuff during a drum sticks-on-ash tray jam session in New York City.

Roy Orbison's soulful crooning topped everything off during those Saturday morning father-son trips to the bank because why the fuck not.

The other memorable cassette I had at the time was New Kids On the Block's Hangin' Tough, because I'm pathetic. I also have what amounts to an acid flashback whenever Dennis Quaid appears on my television.

For Gizmodo's week-long Listening Test (a tribute to all things audio), each writer will be sharing his/her first album. In other words, there will be many more to come.