Remember CDs? Not all that long ago, they were everything. The compact disc was the ultimate format for storing and playing sound recordings. Smaller and more convenient than cumbersome vinyl, which had gone the way of the velociraptor at that point, and more reliable and durable than cassettes. And the sound quality? Forget about it. It was supposed to be pristine, like there was a tiny little band playing live right inside your ear.
This was my first CD, Honeymoon Suite’s The Big Prize. It was the fall of 1988, I had bought a new portable stereo with built in CD player, having saved up my allowance and maybe some birthday money. I was super psyched to wrap my ears around this new technology.
Being 15, and having spent most of my money on the stereo, I didn’t have much cash. I went to the mall and looked for the least expensive CD by a band I liked that I could find. Having already worn out my cassette of their latest album, Racing After Midnight, this was the winner. The Big Prize was more than two years old at that point, so I guess A&A Records and Tapes had put it on sale.
The first task, of course, was to open the damn thing, to find just the right fold to dig your fingernails under, lift and tear. And when that ripped off only an inch long portion of wrap, it was back to the drawing board.
Once it was open, I looked upon the future. The future was a silver disc, reflecting not just myself, but all my sonic hopes and dreams. It was beautiful. The packaging, once you got past the irritating wrap, was ingenious. A little multi-pronged button neatly held the disc and, then released it with a little push and pull.
Into the top-loading player it went, with a sibilant whir. And my brain whirred with it, with excitement at the clarity of the sounds. Something recorded could sound like THAT? Like it’s right in the room with me? Like Derry Grehan is ripping off those sweet licks in my bedroom?
And no, I did not have to google the name of Honeymoon Suite’s lead guitar player, despite not having thought of him much since the late 80s. I thought he was awesome. Probably my favourite Canadian guitar player, as a 15-year-old. He had this sweet, black guitar that had yellow tire tracks on it and I remember entering a contest at Sam the Record Man to try to win one just like it, autographed by Derry himself. Actually, remember Shauna, from my “Endless Summer Nights” post? I distinctly remember making an absurd pact with myself that if I won that guitar I would finally ask her out. So let’s blame that never happening on my not winning that guitar.
Despite loving this song and that Racing After Midnight album, the Suite (did anybody refer to them as the Suite?) kind of fell off my radar into the 90s. I guess radio wasn’t as big on them with the grunge revolution, maybe they were labelled as a hair band. But I still go back to The Big Prize every now and then. Come to think of it, I need to get some Racing After Midnight into iTunes. Even better, maybe I can get it on CD.
P.S. You just have to watch this video. In all it’s 80s green-screen, angular, random collage, tight pants, phallic (dig the telescope sticking out of his pants!), mulletty glory. And the remote control!