Saturday, June 13, 2020

78s



The LP – Long Player – format was developed by Columbia Records in 1949 to replace 78s. RCA was quick with a response and in 1950 started promoting the 45. While the number of revolutions was arbitrary for the most part, RCA came up with 45 by subtracting 33 from 78. (Just some useless trivia.) The 78 format was quickly replaced but still had some legs; keep in mind that 78s had been around since 1890. Companies continued to release 78s, and in some countries, India for instance, even several Beatles singles were released in the old format (fetching thousands of dollars today).
As a child of the 60s, 78s remained common as a format for young people. Commonly, 7-inch 78s were specifically produced for kids on yellow vinyl.
While I’ve collected LPs since my first in 1967 – The Wondrous World of Sonny and Cher – and still collect them today, 45s as well, I've only recently (well, just the other day) developed an interest in 78s. 
Long ago I got my one and only 78 – The Raymond Scott Quintet. The old shellac record on the Brunswick label is one familiar to any fan of Porky Pig. In an episode in which Porky has a chicken farm, the song "Powerhouse" plays during Porky's automated egg-laying procedure.
Using a Jedi Mind Trick, which is all it requires these days to get Amazon to drop something on one's porch, I got and have now restored, a 1942 children’s acoustic record played from the Spear Company. While the turntable is motorized, the sound emanating from the record is amplified only through the acoustic diaphragm that you see in the video. It sounds terrible, which is exactly what you’d expect, and therefore perfect. You have to constantly change the needle, and I don’t yet have the appropriate type, so the sound quality is worse than it could be, still I thought I'd share this blast from the past.

Here on AM we focus on rock music, particularly from 1966 as the turning point when rock 'n' roll became rock, but we still relish in the music of the 50s, from Elvis to Sinatra and we're not too timid to tackle jazz or fusion or country. I've often posted articles about record collecting and, as a collector these past 53 years (!), I think I can consider myself a bit of an expert, but 78s, their value, their history, even what they're made out of, is sketchy for me at best. My new toy is but a means for me to expand my horizons and learn a bit more.

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