I began collecting records when I was ten years old. The first album I ever bought was Snoopy vs. The Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen. Hey, I was a child of the AM pop radio sixties and I was only ten years old, so cut me some slack. I redeemed myself with my second album purchase, Between The Buttons, by the Rolling Stones. From there it was The Doors, Bob Dylan, lots of Motown, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez, etc. I was a collector from the very beginning. Sure, I was in it for the music, but I also loved the tangible, solid pieces of black vinyl and cardboard jackets that I could hold in my hand. Things just got worse and worse as I got older and before I knew it I had accumulated thousands of albums and hundreds of singles. It seemed I was constantly building new shelves to hold everything. Working at record stores certainly didn’t help matters much, as I got a lot things free there. For many, many years I never even dreamed of selling any of my prized possessions. I had lots (and I mean lots) of albums that I had never listened to, but it always seemed that there would certainly be time to listen to them all eventually. Even though I was still accumulating far more than I could listen to at the time, when you’re young the future seems endless and able to accommodate anything. Besides, I was terrified of the idea that I would sell something I hadn’t listened to and then years later find out how good it was and that it was no longer in print and impossible to find again. Better to hang on to everything, just in case. Then in the late 70s and early 80s I started to attend record conventions in Houston and Austin and began selling some of my duplicates. Yes, I had multiple copies of a lot of stuff. When Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe would put out a UK single with a picture sleeve and unreleased b-sides I would buy two, three, five or ten copies knowing that some day they would be worth something. I soon discovered that once you begin to sell stuff it’s a slippery slope. Throughout the eighties I was attending the Austin Record Convention as a dealer twice a year, sorting through my collection and deciding what things I was willing to part with. Of course, most of the money I made I plowed right back into buying more albums and CDs, so in reality I was just trading things out for things I wanted more.
These days it’s all about Amazon.com and eBay. I’ve sold a lot of CDs over the past few years at Amazon. I’m at the point now where I’ve finally accepted that there’s just no way I’m ever going to be able to listen to all this stuff, there’s just too much and my years of listening are now noticeably more numbered. But, I still spend a lot of the money I make buying new stuff, so I’m still often just replacing one CD with something else that I want more. That’s OK. I listen to as much as I can.
Occasionally I’ll pull a CD from my rack and think, “OK, this can go. I’ve had this CD for 15 years and I’ve never listened to it.” So, I’ll look it up on Amazon and see what used copies are going for. Occasionally, if it’s an artist or album that I’m not familiar with at all, I’ll read some of the reviews that the fans write at Amazon. That’s how I came to discover Terence Boylan. I have a CD simply titled Terence Boylan. It’s on a label I’ve never heard of Spinnaker Records (probably his own custom label). I have no idea where it came from or how long I’ve had it. I pulled it out and decided I’d put it up for sale on Amazon. Then I read a few reviews and had second thoughts. This seems like an album I might really like. Maybe I should give it a quick listen before I sell it. Now this doesn’t happen too often, but Terence Boylan has suddenly become one of my new favorite artists and I’m really getting into this CD.
It turns out that Boylan released two albums on Asylum back in the late seventies (probably what made me pick this up originally). This self-titled CD, released in 1999, is a compilation that contains eight songs from his first album (Terence Boylan), four songs from his second (Suzy, 1980) and three previously unreleased songs most likely recorded sometime in the nineties. The album opens with a piano intro (on the song “Hey Papa”) that sounds like it came right off a Steely Dan album. Then Boylan’s voice kicks in, smooth, sweet and silvery. Background vocals and a saxophone solo and you know right away you’re in Southern California seventies territory. While I usually hate to make comparisons to other artists the best way to describe this music is a blend of Steely Dan and Jackson Browne. Throw in a little Joni Mitchell and J.D. Souther and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. It’s got the smooth, funky, jazz-rock of the best of Steely Dan while Boylan’s songs and voice inhabit the same territory that Jackson’s one of the masters of. And yet, with all that said, he’s got a style all his own, very unique and very special. He ain’t no knockoff of anyone else. And to top it all of he’s a damn fine songwriter.
This is only my third real listen to this album, so I’m still getting to know the songs. But it’s definitely one of those albums that sounds even better to me on each listening. Right now “Dancing Shoes,” “Ice And Snow,” “Hey Papa,” “Tell Me” and especially “Trains” and “Shake It” (Ian Matthews had a hit with this in 1978) are my favorites, but that could easily change as I continue to absorb this stuff. Once I realized how good this was I immediately looked up the two Asylum albums on Amazon, found that Wounded Bird Records had recently reissued both of them and ordered them then and there. They haven’t arrived yet, but I’m looking forward to hearing more from Boylan when they do.