Back in the day, we used to see ads like these every Sunday tucked into the newspaper along with the Parade magazine and the TV listings. You’d also see them in the backs of comic books and damn near any print publication.
Wow! 13 albums for a dollar!
The bane of many parents, including mine. The Columbia House Record Club was the Hotel California of mail order services. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”
The genius behind it was, once you joined and got your 13 albums for 1$, you had to
FULFILL YOUR COMMITMENT!
Odysseus had an easier time with The Scylla and Charybdis than I had extracting myself from the iron grip of the CHRC. I joined several times. The lure of 11 records for $1! was soooo enticing.
I always had that dollar.
It was all the additional dollars it took to FULFILL YOUR COMMITMENT that I had trouble with.
The dark side of the CHRC was the notorious Selection of the Month. The SotM was sent automatically whether you wanted it or not. You had 10 days to send it back or be charged for it at “Special Club Pricing”. If you moved too slow, it was yours forever. Many of us ended up with copies of records we never wanted as a result of the SotM. I never wanted the Rocky Motion Picture Soundtrack, but it was mine by default.
The brighter side was that once in a while, they sent something good. By virtue of the SotM I discovered music I might not have otherwise latched on to.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I would become a fan of bands whose music I had never heard, by virtue of reading about them in music mags. An article about an unusual hard rock band from of all places, Canada, had really stuck with me. The writer painted a vivid and complex picture of a hard rocking, cerebral power trio that was something like Led Zeppelin crossed with Hawkwind. Hmmm…. my mind raced with the possibilities.
A month or so later, the mailman brought me my Selection of the Month.
It was this album:
A little light went on. Hey! it’s those guys from Canada!
I tore that sucker open, snapped it into my little boom box, and was rendered mute. Gobsmacked. Transported. I wanted to throw myself out a window because I was sure this was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard and everything after would be a let down. My father described his brief exposure to RUSH as “a knife though my skull” . That was all the endorsement I needed. Thus began a bromance with a band that persists to this day. Anyone who knows me, knows my love and devotion for this band, through almost 40 years of highs and lows. For most of my life, when asked about my favorite band, these guys were the answer. Its likely that I would have discovered them by some other means, but I still think of the old CHRC every time I hear this record.
Back on the day, this song was my first ever taste of their music.