Until my freshman year in high school, I was unaware of the 12″ vinyl single phenomenon. It wasn’t until hanging out with my friend Eric Sullivan at the Strawberries record store in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston that I was introduced. I remember that in the racks, cassettes were displayed in huge, plastic, anti-theft, skeleton housings that you had to bring to the counter to be unlocked. Then you could leave with your cassette. There was a bit of seediness to the place that was erased when Strawberries later moved into a larger space and became a super store. It’s gone now, of course.
Eric was browsing through records and found one that he’d been seeking, “All Fall Down” by Five Star. We looked over the record and I asked him why there was only one song on each side. He was way cooler than I was, and more plugged into music and clothing, so he was able to explain the idea of extended dance mixes. None of my other friends at the time would have known about this great urban/dance type song released in 1985 by a black, teen, group from London consisting of all blood brothers and sisters. Looking back, his enthusiasm for a great pop song by a cool, new band was surely catchy and influenced my thirst for music. I haven’t seen Eric since he left my high school, but if he’s out there, I want to say, “Thanks Eric!”