Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Penny carnival 1986

The album cover for "Foreigner 4"
The words stuck with me for months: “If you ever come across the album ‘Money Talks’ by Trooper then pick it up for me.”

My cousin Fred was a musician and an aficionado of music. I used to spend a couple weeks every summer at his place in Brooks. The last summer was in 1986. Fred was finishing up Grade 12, and I was preparing to go into Grade 12. I spent my two weeks there and we talked, and cruised around town, and listened to a lot of music.

A couple times he told me he was looking for this album by Trooper, that he just could not find. The name stuck with me.

A few months later, in the oddest of places, I found that album – well the tape version of it – and I did pick it up. But I would not see Fred again for five or six years.

The album cover for Trooper's "Money Talks"
Still I enjoyed “Money Talks” and the two tapes I bought with it, for a long time.

Penny carnival ‘86
For nine years, I attended St. Joseph’s School in Coaldale. One of the highlights of every year was the annual penny carnival. Every grade would come up with a game of some sort and we’d all gather in the gym and enjoy each other’s games.

I was in Grade 12 at Kate Andrews High School, talking to my good friend Dave on the phone. He had two younger sisters. One was in Grade 10 at Kate Andrews, the other was back at St. Joe’s. I wanted to get together, and he did too, but he had to do something first.

The album cover for the album "Run for Cover"
by Canadian band Straight Lines
He hesitated telling me, figuring I wouldn’t be interested in coming over because of it. Why was that, I asked. He had to take his sister to the penny carnival.

Dave was quite surprised at my enthusiasm in wanting to go to the penny carnival. The truth was, I knew I was leaving Coaldale for university, and I kind of wanted to see some of my old teachers, and my old school.

The fact there was a rummage sale was an added bonus.

There among all the old toys, tattered books, and odds and ends were three tapes: “Foreigner 4” by Foreigner; a self-titled album by Straight Lines called “Run for Cover”; and – you guessed it – “Money Talks” by Trooper.

All three tape cases were beat up and a bit dirty. Still the tapes inside all played fine. They still sit in my closet to this day.

I had varying levels of familiarity with all three.

The tapes
“Money Talks” was at the top of the list, because I wanted to get it for my cousin. When I listened to it, I was struck by a couple things. One was that I had actually heard one of the songs before. That was “Only a Fool”, and it was a great ballad. The other thing was the title track, “Money Talks”, uses the word “bullshit”, which was pretty daring, especially back then.

“Foreigner 4” was actually the third album by Foreigner that I owned. There used to be this massive garage sale every spring at the Lethbridge Exhibition Pavilion. That’s where I bought a slightly bent version, on vinyl, of Foreigner’s latest album to that point called, “Agent Provocateur”.

A new comic store had opened in the Park Meadows Mall on the north side of Lethbridge, and it sold used records in really good condition. They even came in their own clear plastic sleeves. That’s where I bought “Foreigner Records”, which was a kind of greatest hits compilation. The cover looked like an old juke box. It contained “Urgent” and “Juke Box Hero”, two songs that were also on “Foreigner 4”.

LA-107 also did a spotlight on Foreigner, where they talked about “Foreigner 4” among other things.

“Run for Cover” was known strictly for the song, “Letting Go.” I recall listening to it in junior high on the bus on a ski trip to West Castle near Pincher Creek. Then, on an episode of “Good Rockin’ Tonite” they were interviewing Michael Damian who, at that time was best known for playing Danny on “The Young and the Restless.” One of the video clips they showed was of him covering “Letting Go”. The band Straight Lines was also in the news a bit because some of their members had formed a new band called “Body Electric”.

Parting thoughts
It was another transition for me. I was leaving home at the end of the school year. St. Joe’s had been such a big part of my life for so long, over half my life at that point. It was nice to go back one more time to see the place and some of my old teachers. It was the last time I was in there before I left home to go to university.

Every time I hear one of those songs, like “Letting Go”, “Only a Fool”, or “Urgent”, I am reminded of that penny carnival and the end of that part of my life.

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