30 September 2011

Musical Records and Record Players

Welcome back. I’ve presented my guitar solo and the warm-up act. I thought you might have some interest in the musical records I played and how I played them.

When I was, I’d guess, 6 or 7 years old, my parents acquired a large stack of 78 rpm records, all classical and opera, many featuring Enrico Caruso. I vaguely remember a long drive, returning home after visiting family, and having boxes of the records in our car trunk.
I’ve no idea what happened to those records, but I can’t forget how easily the records cracked. Do I have repressed memories of sliding broken records back into their paper sleeves, hoping no one would look? Of course not. I must have found them broken.

Not too many years later, I was introduced to the new long-playing (LP) 33-1/3 rpm vinyl records by a cousin’s husband. After playing a sample of one, he demonstrated the advantage of vinyl by tossing the record to the hard floor, causing me to dive trying to save it.

What a technological advance! A record I could play, scratch or warp with ease, but I’d have to work hard to break.
Collecting Records
What’s left of the 45 rpm records.

As a teen or pre-teen in the mid-1950s, I outlined a plan to my mother. I would use a negotiated portion of the money I was given or earned to buy 45 rpm records, which I think cost 75 cents each. Although my mother was Great-Depression frugal and repeatedly warning about money burning holes in pockets, she approved. This was music.

I started with “The Great Pretender” by the Platters and ended 70 or 80 45s later--mostly Elvis, Little Richard, Everly Brothers and Fats Domino, but also hits like Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop-a-LuLa,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” Chuck Berry’s “School Days” and…well, others.

In time I was buying LP record albums instead of 45s. That continued selectively through the mid-1960s with a shift to Dylan, the Beatles, folk and jazz. Over the years, many of the records disappeared, broke or warped. If they were playable, the warped rock ’n’ roll records sounded fine. Surprise!

Some LP albums from the guest-room closet.

Record Players

 Just as I never cared much about one car versus another beyond its reliability and gas mileage, I had no interest in the device used to play the records.  

In the 1940s, all tissues were called “Kleenex," and our 78 rpm record player was a “Victrola,” regardless of the actual manufacturer. In the 1950s and 60s, I was satisfied with anything that would play 45s and LPs, sometimes loudly, preferably stacked.

What an education about turnstiles, speakers and peripherals I could have had in the Philippines! Several in our group had shopped in Hong Kong on the way over, investing life savings (at discounted prices) in audio equipment. 
Record store turnstile, 2009.
I assiduously avoided periodic discussions about the equipment but couldn’t escape oh, listen to this” sounds that were one Hertz away from frequencies that send elephants and canines on a rampage.  

Some 35 years later, still lacking an audio equipment education, I successfully purchased an all-in-one turnstile, cassette player, CD player, radio for our son for a mid-teen birthday. It was time for him to hear my old records; it was time for him to learn how good music could be.  

He listened politely for a few weeks before going back to his iPod. 

Wrap Up 

And so ends my musical interlude. Thank you for stopping by and listening.

I’ll write again in about a week. 


If like my son, you prefer iPods, this link might help: Search Amazon.com for ipod 

If you're searching for albums, these links might help, though searching for the particular artist works for me.

Search Amazon.com Music for classic rock
Search Amazon.com Music for classical Search Amazon.com Music for folk Search Amazon.com Music for jazz  

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