I originally published this post back in 2011. With the resurgence in popularity of records on vinyl, despite having kept just a small box full out of the 100s I sold, I’m acquiring a record deck again! All those pictured below still survive in my ‘If I ever had a juke-box’ pile.
Nostalgia of a different kind for you today …
We’re talking seven inch singles, those perfectly packaged pieces of vinyl musical gratification.
I remember the first single I bought, back in 1972, it was How can I be sure by David Cassidy, I think it was 50p from Boots. I no longer have that one, but during my decluttering, I refound my box of singles I was keeping hoarding in case I ever got a juke box, and it was so much fun to go through them all again. Few, if any, are worth anything, and I’ve whittled them down to a neat pile of about thirty that I can’t bear to lose – the rest will go to the car boot sale.
Being a teenager in the 1970s, I grew up with singles. When I was younger, we played them on the old stereogram in the garage which had the benefit of an autochanger. Later I mainly recorded them onto cassettes.
My first exhibits at the top of the post are two singles which demonstrate my list-making tendencies well … Note the number sticker on the Bowie, and the peeling name sticker on the other (the number is on the back). All were filed, and cataloged. The second single here was from 1968, and bought by my parents after a holiday in Switzerland where it was on the hotel’s jukebox – great for those party moments where you feel like a Cossack (after too much vodka?) and need to do a bit of Russian dancing. A case of from the sublime to the ridiculous maybe, but I can see a troupe of kids doing a modern street-dance version of Casatschok on Britain’s Got Talent … (click here to see the original dance on Youtube)
The next exhibit shows more stages in the history of the seven inch single. In the mid 1970s, you could buy reconditioned ex-juke-box singles from newsagents. They’d have a rack of them – all with their middles cut out, in replacement sleeves – and Santana’s cover of the Zombies’ song She’s Not There is one that remains in my collection – a classic with that blistering guitar solo – still brilliant. Then in the 1980s, there were firms like Oldies Unlimited that reissued classic tracks back to back like that on the right. I’ve forgotten already what was on the back of this one, but I got the Surfaris Wipe Out to go in the jukebox collection.
Then two more of my parents’ – Mack The Knife still had it’s original late 50s London records sleeve, although rather aged. Spanish Flea was another blast from the primary school days that still gets me bopping around whenvever I hear it, (along with Burt Kaemfert’s Swinging Safari, but sadly we never had the single of that).
Now I can hear you say – where are all the special editions, the coloured vinyls, the picture discs, the shaped singles etc? Well, I sold most of them along with most of my lps some years ago, when ebay prices were really good, enough people still had record decks, and there were a lot of record collectors out there.
But I shall leave you with one picture sleeve from a treasured single that will certainly go in my jukebox one day …
It’s a shame as the BBC has been running a feature on the Desert Island Discs website, asking people for their own nominations and I missed the deadline – The poll has now closed. It won’t stop me spending some time thinking about my choices though, and I’ll get back to you in another post. Hit me with your rhythm stick (above) may well be in there!