Part 234: Wild in the Streets

For Aaron.

RECORD STORE TALES Part 234:  Wild in the Streets

1987’s Wild in the Streets was one of the harder Helix albums to acquire on CD. Cassette and LP were no problem at all, but relatively few CDs were produced in comparison. In 1992 I found a used cassette, (at a filthy music store in Port Elgin, Ontario) which came in a neat glow-in-the-dark cassette shell. It was the only glow-in-the-dark cassette I’ve ever seen or owned. Cassettes being what they are, I later desired a more permanent copy, CD being my preferred medium. This proved frustratingly difficult to find, even after being hired at the record store in July 1994.

This was important to me, because Helix were my first rock concert, on the Wild in the Streets tour. Johnny Cash was my first concert, but I saw Helix in October of 1987 in the Center in the Square, with Haywire opening, and they were awesome. The album wasn’t one of their best, but it did have classics such as “Dream On”, “Kiss It Goodbye”, “She’s Too Tough” and the title track. That old cassette wasn’t going to last very many plays.

Once starting at the record store, I discovered that Capitol/EMI had long since deleted the album. Brian Vollmer was still years away from reprinting and selling the albums himself, so my only option was to find a used copy. Since we sold used CDs, I hoped that one would eventually float my way. In the meantime I checked the “H” section of every record store I could find. No luck. Years, I looked. Like a woe begotten sailor searching for Cthulhu and the lost city of R’lyeh, I sailed the seas of music, searching.

Our first store didn’t have a computer, just pens and paper. We worked without a computer for years. All of our CD orders and reservations were done manually, in binders and note books. We had several pages of used CD reservations: many people looking for copies of the Beatles’ Red and Blue albums, T-Rev looking for Saga and Steve Earle rarities, and my hunt for the elusive Helix CD. This system wasn’t very efficient, as you basically had to remember what albums people were looking for, and go and check the book for the person’s information. If you saw, for example, a Traveling Wilburys CD in stock, you’d check the book because you knew someone was waiting for it.  It wasn’t an exact science but we did the best we could.

In 1996, when I was given my own store to manage, we finally got a computer!  The software had a computerized reservation list.  When you were entering new arrivals, you’d manually type in a title.  So, “MOTLEY CRUE” – “DR. FEELGOOD”.  A little note would pop up saying “reservation found”. You would then go to a different screen, find the person looking for the CD, write down their contact info, and delete the reservation.  This system was extremely vulnerable to human error.  They later refined it, making it smoother and more automated.

I entered my name in for Helix – Wild In the Streets right from the very beginning. With this new computerized system, I figured my chances of finding the CD had improved.  Not so.

The months went by, the seasons changed, still no Helix. My friend Len, who was a customer I met via the store, put himself in reserve for the Helix CD as well. I would have had first dibs on it if it came in, but as time went on two or three more people added their names to the waiting list. The likelihood of everybody getting a copy was nil, considering the years that I had been working there and never seeing one.  (In good enough condition, anyway.)  There was always a hope that one day, a copy or two would float our way. Len eventually found a copy at another store and removed his name from our reservation list. I congratulated him on his excellent discovery. He refused to sell it to me, however, even though I offered him $15 which was more than he paid.

A few months later, Len stopped in for one of his regular shopping visits. A pawn shop named Cash Converters had opened up in our plaza, causing us a little bit of unwanted competition. They too bought and sold used CDs. Usually they took whatever crap we didn’t, but occasionally people brought their good stuff to Cash Converters first.

This time, Len had an exciting piece of news for me.  “Do you still need Wild in the Streets?” he asked with a smile. “Because they have one at Cash Converters right now. 12 bucks.”

My eyes popped!  Excitedly, I handed Len some cash and asked him to pick it up for me. He returned a couple minutes later, with my own personal copy of Wild in the Streets. Mission accomplished! Finally! It was in like-new condition. All it needed was a fresh jewel case, which I provided as soon as possible. That night I finally had the chance to hear the album, in CD quality sound.

That original CD was in my collection for a long time.  In fact only recently did I find the Rock Candy remastered edition with expanded artwork and liner notes, used at Encore Records. I then handed my original to (former customer now friend) Aaron, which he received at Record Store Excursion 2013!

The lessons from this are two-fold:

1) When Record Store Guys befriend their customers, they get CDs out of the deal!

2) When customers befriend their Record Store Guys, they get CDs out of the deal!

Glad tidings for all around.

Advertisements

20 comments

  1. I am honoured to have received this copy. Knowing its story makes it that much more special. I know all-too-well how it can go when there’s an album you want and it just never seems to turn up. I also know well the exhilirating feeling of finally finding it! Plus, I’ve played it through and this album kicks some serious ass. What a band! I thought at the time to write it up for KMA, and realized I’ll have to do it from my gut – not sure I could do it justice if I actually tried to sound intelligent about it! When I do, I’ll link to this page for sure. Rest assured, this album has a warm and welcoming home here!

    Every province I’ve lived in here in Canada, I’ve made a point of befriending cool record store employees. Not with this as an agenda, mind, though this sort of thing is a super-sweet benefit! I just appreciate people who think like I do (as do we all). RAWK!

    Like

    1. I haven’t even reviewed the album myself yet, so I would doubly look forward to your review! As a fan who owns every Helix CD, I consider this one in the lower half of their catalogue, but with some true standouts!

      Like

  2. It always feels good when you find a gem you’d been wanting forever! You mentioned cassettes, which I just recently read are finding their way back into poplularity for new products, but I can’t figure out why. They had problems with twisting and getting caught up in the players. i hope this trend doesn’t pan out, because I will go for a CD every time. LP’s still have a great sound, though, when you really think about it. Our local store has an end cap full of remastered copies of classic albums from the 60’s and 70’s, but they cost several times more than the originals, anywhere from $25 to $50.

    Something I’d like to find on a CD, if it’s even available, is the Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer”, which was a double album set. i used to have both the LP and the cassette, but don’t anymore. Don’t know why I got rid of them in the first place. Now I wish I had them back! I can find compilations of songs, but they don’t have all of the songs i want on them, which seems to be a problem with all compilations I see. “Greatest hits” – really?!

    Like

        1. Man, your entire site is like a friggin’ shopping list. You should make a tab at the top with a checklist-style list of everything you’ve posted. We could print it off and take it with us to the shops…

          Like

    1. I saw that Queensryche released their new album on cassette. This seems to be a trend with indi bands too, as I saw a few new cassettes by new bands for sale in Toronto.

      I remember about 15 years ago, a local band here put out an 8 track tape! True!

      Like

      1. Seriously, an 8-track? I don’t think you can even buy a new player for those. I see a few for sale at yard sales, and my dad holds on to an old one (actually, I think it was one I didn’t want anymore). I think the last 8-track tape I had, which I wish I still had, just as a collector’s item, is an old Mitchell Trio one, with John Denver as lead singer (he replaced Chad Mitchell).

        Like

  3. I have always found Helix a somewhat uneven band and I can’t really think of one Helix that is all killer no filler. Except this one. Easily their best album. But I need to state that no Helix album has been crap either. I have heard their albums that came out after WITS, but none of them made an impact on me

    Like

    1. Well Jon, if I had to pick my favourites, they would be:

      1. Breaking Loose
      2. No Rest for the Wicked
      3. It’s a Business Doing Pleasure
      4. Back For Another Taste
      5. B-Sides

      They have been consistent, as you’ve said. And yes few Helix albums are all killer-no filler. But I think the first two on that list there are about as close as it gets.

      Like

      1. Hmmm. I never really got Breaking Loose or White Lace & Black Leather (is that correct?). A friend taped them for me but neither really stuck. Besides, I’m Swedish and for us No Rest For The Wicked is Helix debut album. I remember they opened up for Kiss on their European Lick It Up tour.
        Back For Another Taste is in my collection, a good one actually and I also have a burned copy of Pleasure. Listened to it just the other week, as a matter of fact, and it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t sound like Helix. Too pop.
        I like Long Way To Heaven. They toured Sweden with that album, lots of dates, which was kind of unusual then and I got to meet them at a signing in a record store, very nice guys. They were huge in Sweden after Rock You was all over both TV and radio then.

        Like

        1. That Swedish tour is a large part of Brian Vollmer’s book, Gimme An R. I have reviews of all these albums drafted but unpublished. The thing about the It’s A Business Doing Pleasure album is that it was intended to be a Vollmer solo album under his name. When Paul Hackman was killed (RIP) Vollmer hadn’t written any songs for the next Helix album. Hackman had a few bits and pieces but it was decided to release the Vollmer solo album as the next Helix album. You’ll notice the sleeve shows Brent Doerner and Greg Fraser on the sleeve — they did not play on the album. That was kind of unknown at the time although it’s now known via Vollmer’s website and book.

          Like

  4. Wow man I’m surprised to see Its a Business …in your top 3 Mike considering it was a Vollmer solo album with the Helix trademark stamped on the outside of the record.
    I know we agree almost all the time but I would have to say that WITS would be my fav.
    It still stands up today for me anyways.ha solid thru and thru I mean take or leave Dream On I know I know single time but why this one did not launch them in the USA is beyond me!
    For me it’s right up there at the time with the Whitesnake 87 album…it’s just too bad they could not latch onto a Crue or Aerosmith opening slot back than…..
    My five Helix would be ..
    WITHS
    WTRE
    NRFTW
    BFAT
    HA.
    Can u guess the HA
    Sorry got lazy fingers tonight!
    cheers fellas..

    Like

    1. Half-Alive!!!

      Interesting list Deke. Neither of the first two albums made it! I don’t think Helix have ever really topped Breaking Loose. Songs like Billy Oxygen, You’ll Be A Woman Soon, etc…

      Like

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s