I bought my first grown-up stereo system in 1985, information pills not too long after my family moved to Woburn Center and my brother and I got our very own room (as opposed to a doorless niche space connected to the living room of our small North Woburn apartment). My mom had a job assembling speakers for H.H. Scott at the time (before Emerson gobbled up the brand and the final curtain fell on American-made consumer electronics), and could score deep discounts on discontinued, dinged, or display components.
In exchange for a three month cut in my allowance, I became the owner of a bitchin’ contemporary sound system…and by “contemporary,” I mean “decked to the eight-ohs with a luxuriously dated excess of LED displays, simulated woodgrain, and psuedo-chrome detailing. The stereo served me well for almost a decade, and saw me through a long stretch of musical evolution that spanned Dire Straits to Otis Redding to the Animals to Anthrax to Black Flag to Blitz to Nick Lowe to Bauhaus.
The system fell into disuse after my record collecting ramped down and a flood of otherwise unavailable material began showing up on CD. Though I had a fussy first-gen Discman wired into the stereo’s auxiliary input, it was easier to throw a disc into the Sony boombox Maura gave me as my 21st birthday present and not worry about tracks skipping every time two air molecules collided within a hundred yards of the damn thing.
The space the stereo occupied was eventually given over to my growing array of game consoles, and its components were wrapped in black garbage bags and stored in the far corner of my grandma’s basement. (The turntable eventually ended up in my brother’s custody, and is still in regular use.) I’ve considered digging out and setting it up at my present abode at the House on the Hillside, but it’s hard to justify the investment of space and labor when I do all my music listening through my computer (by one way or another) these days. I value the retro-kitsch aesthetic, but I value shelf space even more.
The only way I would consider setting up a dedicated living room sound system is if I managed to lay hands on one of these babies…
I also know exactly what track I would use to launch this plastic fantastic journey beyond the walls of good taste:
On 8-track format, naturally.