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Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Day the (Old) Music Died




The Day the (Old) Music Died



I really do miss records. Of course, technology is great, and I do attempt to keep up with a world that rotates on its axis faster than it did in my grandparents’ day. Dillon was right, however. I wouldn’t want to sink like a stone. Nevertheless, the nostalgia connected with records will never be replaced by an ipod.

 
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the Victor Talking Machine Company introduced the Victrola, which revolutionized music and became the most influential record player of its time. In fact, my grandfather used to play Enrico Caruso opera songs on his new talking machine, which was about fifty years old at the time.

 
Eventually, radio began to hurt sales of records, until the 1920s, when independent record companies started to make lateral cut records, a technique previously owned by the Victor Talking Machine group. In 1926, the Vitaphone Company introduced the 33 1/3 RPM, which used a 16-inch acetate-coated shellac disc on record players powered by miniscule electric motors, and the following year, the jukebox was introduced by the Automatic Music Instrument Company. Record sales began to boom again.

 
Shortly thereafter, Radio Corporation of America (RCA) purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, and RCA Victor was born. By the 1930s, Bing Crosby was a national legend in the making. His hit song, I Remember Dear, made him the Beatles of his era. By 1939, the world was blessed with multiple-selection jukeboxes and magnetic tape on which sounds could be recorded, paving the way for new vinyl 45 RPM, seven-inch microgroove discs with compatible turntables. They were like the PCs of their day in the average home!

 
In 1949, Capitol Records became the first major record label company to carry three recording speeds: 78, 45, 33-1/3 RPM. However, the 1950s favored the cheaper 45s and sounded the death knell for the 78 shellac discs. Once the jukebox was adapted to 45s, Rock’n’Roll took off. Unfortunately, for those of us who thrive on nostalgia, Philips’ introduction of the first compact audio cassette launched the battle between records and cassettes – and records lost.

 
I really do miss records.

8 comments:

  1. Glenn says....I remember 31 rpms.

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  2. My wife still has a hundred or more albums. It's been too long since we broke out the old record player. By the way, my first album was Rubber Sole and my first 45 was One Tin Soldier.

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  3. JJ, when I was a kid, I collected Original Broadway Scores on 33 1/3 rpm albums. But I had my adapter, too, because I had all of the latest Hit Parade rock and roll 45's! To accompany the latter, I ran to the pharmacy and bought booklets of lyrics so I could memorize them faster. I still remember many of those lyrics, too.

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  4. #167 Dad: I, too, have Rubber Soul, but no longer anything to play it on!

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  5. Lee: I still have a collection of Doo Wop music from the 1950s. We have two family members of R'n'R fame. One is Dion Dimucci, Dion and the Belmonts, and the other is Cookie Martinez, the white guy from the Dell Vikings, one of the first inter-racial groups in the nation. Thus, great interest since I was a kid.

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  6. Glenn: I do remember my uncle showing me some 31s or 31 1/2s, but I can't remember the details.

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  7. JJ, I remember working at Spec's in 1989. The store furniture was changing from record storage to CD storage. I spent so many dollars amassing the record collection I still have today! Sadly, the turntable isn't hooked up to the stereo, so there is no way to play them.

    I miss the snap, crackle, pop of records. The liner notes, the album art...where did all of that go?

    Digital files are great for the gym and car, but when I'm at home I want something more to hold.

    I miss them, too, the old records. I have some 45s and a bit of 33s. Oh, well.

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  8. A-M: Save your collection. Some day you can pick up an old turntable, and voila' - a time machine! By the way, I love "the snap, crackle, pop of records."

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