Sunday, January 31, 2010

Old Records / 1965

Originally uploaded by simonm1965
In my youth I used to read NME from cover to cover every week, and the charts included top tens from 5, 10 and 15 years ago. As the cold death-grip of the '80s took hold I started to notice more and more that the records in the 15 yrs. ago chart were better than the current chart or the mostly even worse 5 and 10 yrs ago charts, and these were only the ones I knew from listening to to Jimmy Saville's Old Record Club on Radio One on Sunday morning.

Saville was almost a proper DJ at this time despite the haircut and cigar, and he played charts from random years, with Ramsey Lewis' version of The In Crowd as the theme tune. It was good, even though he did say 'guys n gels guys n gels' quite a lot.

So I started buying old records, from charity shops and also from Record & Tape Exchange, where thousands of old singles with no sleeves were only 10p each in the basement. There were some good shops in Canterbury where I went to college, including one which seemed to be where a local Northern Soul DJ sent his cast-offs. I wasn't concerned about condition as I had maintained a strict avoidance of hi-fi equipment, preferring basic record players and 'music centres'.

1965 - A Good Year

I would probably say 1966 was better on balance, but I was born in '65, so here are the 10 best singles I have from that year, in no particular order.

Let The Good Times Roll - Alvin Robinson
Jenny Take A Ride - Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
Don't Talk to Strangers - The Beau Brummells
Midnight to Six Man - The Pretty Things
She Don't Care About Time - The Byrds
The Duck - Jackie Lee
The Barracuda - Alvin Cash and the Registers
Whittier Blvd - Thee Midniters
It’s Growing - The Temptations
Out In The Streets - The Shangri-Las

Honorable mention - (I Wish It Could Be) 1965 (Again) - The Barracudas

45 Revolutions Per Minute

singles box
Originally uploaded by simonm1965
I'm 45 this year and did a little zine on the subject for a party where I had all my 45s in one room and friends came round and we listened to approx 10% of them for about six hours straight.

Last year on my birthday I made a joke about playing singles all day on my 45th birthday, and when I started thinking about my birthday, just after xmas, I thought that seemed like a good idea
A day of vinyl indulgence. There isn't enough room to have all my singles upstairs, so most of them are under the stairs to the basement at any one time. I do occasionally have the urge to hear this or that record from downstairs, but rarely is the urge strong enough to go and find it.

I decided to do the zine because records and zines go together. I started doing zines in 1984, around the time I started to get into seeing bands, buying zines and buying records every week. I
carried on doing zines and comics with a few gaps here and there until about 10 yrs. ago. So - another one. A lot of the time what I've written here is an exaggeration of my real thoughts, because that's what my 80s zines were like - lots of exclamation marks!

So the next few posts will be based on pieces from the zine - starting with:

"Why I HEART Singles"

Yes - 45s ARE the ultimate music format. They are explosions of ephemeral pop art instant gratification, yet they are unbreakable under normal use and will be left behind with the cockroaches when our civilisation dies out in a few hundred years!

In the '80s I knew a foolish fanzine writer who proclaimed that he would only EVER buy 7" singles, that he had sold all his LPs, and would NEVER buy a CD in his life. I'm not like that, but I do like 45s best. DJ-ing with them is really easy too, as they are quick to look through and cue up.

On a good single you get two short blasts of music, cut loud, the best 2 songs available to to the artists at the time (with the exception of Phil Spector and Kasenatz-Katz productions), plus a decorative label, maybe a pic sleeve or insert to enthrall and entrance, maybe a cryptic message from the band in the run-out groove. It's all you need.

It's an undisputed fact that the 45 rpm vinyl single of a given song will nearly always sound better than an album or CD version, because they are mastered and sometimes mixed differently (at least from the '50s to the '80s) to sound best coming out of a radio - punchier, treblier, attention-grabbing.

Though I don't take notes I can usually remember where if not when I bought a particular single, and often how much I paid for it. For many years the most I would expect to pay for a used single was 50p or £1. Girls Are Out To Get You by the Fascinations on the original American label - an in-demand Northern Soul classic - was the first record I paid £5 (as much as an album) for, from Rocks Off in Hanway Street in 1983.

Even as a pre-teen in the '70s I gravitated towards singles - I bought various novelty releases in dumb way - coloured vinyls, picture discs, a single shaped like a bar of chocolate - the song from the Yorkie advert - but I don't have any of these any more. But I do still have a lot of singles. One of the few singles that I have from that time is 'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas.