A little over a year ago I got a bug up my behind to set up my turn table. I had bought it back in the late 1990's after going almost a decade without. It served me well until I started moving around for my radio career. It got put in it's box and schleped from town to town, as I moved up and down the dial but never set up. Then I got married. While there was room for the stereo in the living room, there was no room for the turn table. Finally, after the last move I made room in my office for it and decided it was high time to reconnect with the whole reason I became a DJ: The music.

I wanted to do more than go out and find LP copies of the cassettes and CD's I listened to as a kid and a teenager. I wanted to expand my horizons. So I decided I'd try to find albums by artists I had always wanted to check out but never did. It's worked fairly well for me.

Here's five albums that I wouldn't have found if I hadn't decided to start collecting vinyl. They're in no particular order, and depending on how into music you are / were you may already think they're great:

  • Marshall Crenshaw - "Downtown" - Everyone knows his hit "Someday, Someway" but his third album "Downtown" from 1985 is a little different than his first two albums. It's a more rootsy album produced by T-Bone Burnett and was recorded while Crenshaw had a sense of doom about his career. It's a well crafted pop rock record that just sounds great.
  • The Elvis Brothers- "Movin' Up" - I vaugely remember hearing about the Elvis Brothers as a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs. Yet, what really spurred me on to get this album was meeting drummer Brad Elvis. These days Brad is the drummer for the Romantics and has a band called the Handcuffs in Chicago. "Movin' Up is a fun catchy pop rock record with hooks, heart and energy. When I first heard this album I was like why did I wait all these years to hear it.
  • Linda Ronstadt - "Mad Love"- By the time I was getting into music in the mid 80's, people my age I don't think thought Linda Ronstadt was cool. Her time was past. She was making music for my parents. So I never bothered to check her music out. Throughout her career though, she picked songs from great writers and interperted them very well. "Mad Love" her tenth album in 1980 finds her sounding very pop and this album includes songs written by Elvis Costello and Neil Young. It may be an album in her discography that gets overlooked.
  • Off Broadway - "On" - If you grew up in Chicago or Kansas City listening to the radio you might have heard these guys in 1979/1980. They had a minor hit with "Stay In Time" off this album. It only charted nationally at #51, but went to #9 on WLS's charts. It's a great midwestern pop / rock record. Just mentioning "Stay In Time" makes me want to play the tune.
  • Shooting Star - "Silent Scream"- My love of Kansas City radio station, KY102, is how I found my way to hearing about Shooting Star. I had heard "Hang On To Your Life" and loved it, so when I saw the album I bought it and loved it. There's a big part of my that loves late 70's / early 80s midwestern rock, and that Shooting Star album fits the bill perfectly. So when I saw "Silent Scream" at my record shop I jumped at the chance to buy it. I was surprised at how much more pop this album was, but let's face it, it was 1985. While it didn't put the band back on the map it's a fun record to listen to.

As I mentioned I love that late '70s / early '80s midwestern rock sound. With that in mind here's a bonus album for you:

  • Michael Stanley Band - "Heartland"- Another group I discovered through radio. These guys are featured promenintly in radio programmer John Gorman's book on the history of Clevland's WMMS radio (think the Cleveland version of Kansas City's KYYS.) It's a great rock record. And so are the other releases I've picked up from the Michael Stanley Band since then.

So setting up my turn table's been successful, especially in regards to broadening my musical tastes and exploring artists I never got around to when I was younger. These are just five records I wouldn't have discovered if I didn't set up my turn table. The great news there's many more albums to discover. I can't wait to see what my next find brings!