My favorite artist of the vinyl era was and is Frank Frazetta. If you've never heard of him, google it. His art was very influential to me as an artist and I strove to do work as good as his. Alas, I'm no Frazetta.
Being a Frazetta fan, I was drawn to Molly Hatchet as they featured Frazetta's work exclusively in their early days.
Probably my favorite ever from them was the album Flirtin' with Disaster. As you rightly point out, back in those days, you paid dearly for an album. Then, when you put it on your turn table, you let it play until it was time to flip it over.
Then you listened to the 'B' side until it too played all the way through. They you did it all over again. As you rightly put it, we connected with the music or we didn't. Mostly, we did as I remember because it was not cheap to buy an album.
IIRC, it was something like $10-$15 for an LP back then. In the 80s I was only making something like $4 an hour which was actually above minimum wage. That made me "invested" as you put it. It was real bummer when you paid out the equivalent of 4 hours worth of work for an album and it sucked....or only had a single good song on it.
Word got around real quick too, if the album didn't live up to the expectation that there would be multiple good songs on it. Then sales would die down and the artist in question didn't achieve their desired record sales.
Here then, is the cover to Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' with Disaster album:
And the title song, "Flirtin' with Disaster"