In the 1950s there was a person with the initials G.S. who lived in my area. He or she liked music and collected records. I know this, because a box of 10-inch shellac records turned up in an op-shop near me, and most of them had “G.S.” neatly written on them. Sometimes, G.S. used a little sticker; other times he or she used white paint, delicately applied with a thin brush. My guess is that this was because G.S. took records along to parties, and wanted to make sure they came back again.
The G.S. collection is diverse – this was someone open to different styles. There’s swing and up-tempo dance, pop songs, some guitar blues, a comedy record involving Bugs Bunny and Hiawatha, and also some country.
This is one such: a Slim Whitman track from 1952. It’s a country weepy, a genre which requires a singer of conviction, and Slim carries it off. It is beautifully played, too, a fast-paced waltz with some tricky guitar parts. The record has a bad scratch – actually, more of a gouge – which you will hear towards the end, but in spite of this the sound is clear and intimate. One of the beauties of the records of this era is recordings had to be done “live”, in one take, the musicians all playing in the same room.
You almost feel as if you are there. There is a life and immediacy to these recordings which is compelling, and which sometime goes missing now that we can chop and change and filter and rework and compress and sample.
Given that he or she could afford records, G.S. would have been a young adult in 1952, and so has probably moved on to the great gramophone party in the sky. If so, thanks for passing on your collection. I will take good care of it. This is for you.
- Artist: Slim Whitman
- Title: My Heart is Broken in Three
- Track: Side B “Cold, Empty Arms”
- Format: 10” shellac disc, 78rpm
- Label: Decca Y6553
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1952