As a gift for my fifth birthday, my cousin Kylie dubbed five cassettes which would influence my taste in music forever: Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Van Halen’s 5150, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, Icehouse’s Man of Colours and John Farnham’s Whispering Jack. But the first album I ever purchased with my own money is so embarrassing I actually contemplated lying to you all just to avoid admitting it – even to myself. That album was “In God We Trust” by Christian rock band Stryper. What’s worse is that I still have it.It was all a part of my fascination with hair metal at the time. Maybe I was making up for the fact that I grew up with a crew cut. Who knows? But the list of artists was as impressive as it was tragic: Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crue, Skid Row… need I go on? I saw a TV advertisement for the Stryper album, and without knowing that they were Christian rock, decided that was the album I was going to spend my cash on.
The fascination, fortunately, didn’t extend beyond that album. Although I do remember nailing some wood together in the rough shape of a guitar when my age was still in single digits and painting it Stryper’s signature yellow and black. Sad, I know, but still one of the many happy memories I have of listening to hair bands in my youth. Hell, I still love listening to it when the mood strikes me, and the scary part is that I still know most of the words to the songs, even without hearing them for almost 20 years.
The record itself is still in pretty good condition – I haven’t played it (or any of my other vinyl recordings) in a long time because I don’t actually own a turntable. And why would I? I was part of the generation that moved from vinyl to cassette to CD, all within a matter of years.
And though the thought of hearing that familiar hiss and crackle of the Stryper album fills me with a mixture of fear and shame, the thought of throwing away my first album is even worse.
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.