#579: Entering the Asylum

GETTING MORE TALE #579: Entering the Asylum
(Supplement to the  Re-Review series)

Back in Record Store Tales Part 3 (!), we took a nostalgic look at my first ever Kiss albums, that all arrived in one glorious batch.  The year was 1985, but Kiss also had a new album coming out in a matter of days.  Now that I had started on a Kiss collection, I would have to get their newest album too, called Asylum.  I didn’t even know how to pronounce “asylum” correctly, nor did I know what the word meant, but I did understand that it was their third album without makeup.

Next door neighbor George, who was my introduction to Kiss, came over one day talking about the new single “Tears Are Falling” and how much I would love it.  I didn’t have much money but by the time the snow fell, my dad bought me a copy of Asylum on cassette.  We got it at the Zellers store at Stanley Park Mall in Kitchener.

My meager Kiss collection at that point consisted of Alive!, Asylum (cassette) and a bunch of LPs I recorded off George.  I didn’t know much about the discography but George was a good teacher.  George actually named one of his first bands Asylum.  Before long I could name all the albums, in order.  I even predicted that the next single would be “Uh! All Night”.  I didn’t foresee the third single “Who Wants To Be Lonely” because Kiss hadn’t done a third single in ages!

George was only missing two Kiss albums:  The Elder, and Double Platinum.  He was dying to get both and finish the collection.  His record collection was fascinating to me and a goldmine of music to tape and explore.  The album covers, particularly for Kiss and Iron Maiden, had me hooked.

As my interest in Kiss grew, a new kid at school who I later found out was a “liar liar pants on fire” claimed he had “all” the Kiss albums at home.  His name was Joe Ciaccia (pronounced “chee-chaw”).  I asked him if that meant he had The Elder.  He said yes.  I told George I knew a kid who owned it, and he just about shit his pants.  I made arrangements with Joe to meet up at his place on the next Sunday to do a trade.  All I asked for brokering this trade was recording the album.

George was really excited.  “I don’t care what he wants for it, I’m not leaving without that record.”  I distinctly remember a small group of us trudging through the snow to meet Joe at his apartment.  Who came with us?  I can’t remember.  Joe lived on Breckenridge Drive, just down the street from Brian Vollmer of Helix.  One thing that I can remember very clearly was grabbing my Sanyo ghetto blaster loaded with D-cell batteries, my Asylum tape, and rocking while walking to Joe’s.

Listening to a cassette on a ghetto blaster powered by D-cells was a warbly experience that kids today don’t understand.  Our small group lollygagging through the slush listening to “King of the Mountain” on that old Sanyo is an image I’ll always remember.  I carried it through the wet melting snow.  Those Sanyo ghetto blasters were built like tanks!  You could drop them and they’d keep on ticking.

We arrived at Joe’s apartment and buzzed.  No answer.  Buzzed again.  No answer.  I began to realize my fears.  Joe was all talk and no Elder.  We hung out down there a while but there was no sign of Joe.  George was partly crushed and mostly pissed off.  At school, Joe gradually earned a reputation for tall tales.  His were beginning to rival the lies of Ian Johnson – they even lived on the same street.

We flipped the Asylum tape over and began the walk home.  A wasted trip, and Joe dodged me at school the next day.  George kept pestering me to arrange a second hookup with Joe, thinking he still had that copy of The Elder that he wanted so badly.  I realized Joe was full of shit and told George the sad truth.  The record was not there.  Joe was telling stories, trying to seem cool to me for having all the Kiss albums.  Then he got caught in the lie, after going so far as to arrange a trade and giving me the address.  Very un-cool.

George did get a copy of The Elder a few months later, and he still taped me a copy.  It was a strange album, after being immersed in Asylum for many months.  Then, I definitely preferred AsylumAsylum was special to me.  It was my first “new” Kiss album since getting into the band!  I had boarded the Kiss train and I wasn’t getting off!



  1. I was so delighted to see a couple of students with a ghetto blaster at a high school football game last year – they had bought it at Value Village for $15 (I gave them a duplicate copy of Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em because I was so excited).
    But I think you’re right, apart from those few kids, the cassette through a ghetto blaster powered by D cells is simply foreign to students today!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great story Geoff. Nice to see those kids getting into the “Throwback” sounds of yesteryear!
      Plus full props for you to drop them some tunes as I’m sure that will get you more street credit at the school! (no that you don’t need more credit mind u)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Neat story Mikey!
    Since I’m a wee little older than you my first KISS album was Alive 2 of course back in 78 when i was 11.
    What an intro eh…Double Gatefold/Live Shots/Tattoo’s/Booklet/Loud audience..and Gene with that bunch of red goop coming from his bottom lip…
    Of course I was in big time as KISS was everywhere….
    I like your angle with ‘Asylum” being your intro to them as there albums were coming out but on a whole they did not impact like they did in the 70’s from a selling point.
    Dig this stuff…
    HMO-what was your first intro to KISS? What album ? Anyone else?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Funny story. Alive II was actually the very album that originally scared George away from Kiss. It was Gene with the red goop! He hated and it was stayed away from Kiss for years. Then, Gene became his favourite bass player!


  3. Oooft. That backfired for wee Joe, eh?

    As for the ghetto blaster, that made me smile. I had a wee red ghetto blaster that I called The Juke (jukebox after seeing Tough Guys – “hey, Michael Jackson, you forgot your jukebox). Anyhoo, I loved rocking that thing, though I didn’t know too many music fans when that thing was operational (where I grew up it was football and techno).

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Probably about 15 for me. I had taped it off TV many years ago (or my dad did, I just made sure it was never recorded over) and had the cassette pretty much right up until the video player died (about 10 years ago). Loved that flick.


  4. Great story and I have seen my share of Joes in my lifetime. Glad that George was finally able to complete his KISS collection. I have my own story regarding Asylum which I’ll save til when I post about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How does someone have a shit-stain like Asylum as their introduction to Kiss, and that be the beginning of a torrid Kiss love affair? Well. Only when that certain someone is “as confused as Nigel is” .

    Happy Birthday to you my friend.. But Asylum can fuck right off.

    Love Meat

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s amazing to me to think that while all that was happening to you back in Stanley Park, a group of like minded kids over in the Country Hills/Alpine Village area of town, were also knee deep in Kiss shenanigans. I almost got punched out by a kid from “ the apartments”, for claiming that I said Peter Criss could drum 60mph! Kiss were a HUGE part of our lives back then. We even got a little band together playing air guitar with lipstick on our faces. We called the band Lips. Point being it never occurred to me that other people would be into it as much as we would. It was our own little world.


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