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 Asylum. Asylum 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!