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10" 1930s 78 rpm Pop

Our Glad

She was HUGE. Her first name all you needed. That was her, the famous singer, the Australian girl who had gone to England and become a star. It was the 1930s, when Australia was self-consciously claiming its place in the world. We loved an international champion. There was our great aviator, Charles Kingsford-Smith; our great […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm Country

Young Turk

Torok is an unusual name for an American country artist of the 1950s. Country is usually the domain of the Anglo name: Nelson, Cash, Jennings, Parton. Even those not born with one used to put a suitable name on with the cowboy hat. Baldemar Garza Huerta did better as “Freddy Fender”. Torok means “Turk” in […]

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10" 1930s 78 rpm Jazz

Liquorice stick

On Sunday, my wife and I saw a jazz band, Sandra Tulty’s Swing Quartet. Australians all, and all stellar musicians: one of those jaw-dropping jazz ensembles, which sing, play multiple instruments, and take on solos without so much as raising a sweat. I was particularly impressed by the clarinettist, Michael McQuaid. He moved in and […]

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10" 1940s 78 rpm

After the movie finished

Australia and America have been close friends for a long time. It dates back to the Second World War, when Australia found itself facing a Japanese invasion. Traditionally, Australia had looked to Britain for protection. But Britain was in a desperate struggle for survival herself, and unable to help. So on 27 December 1941 the […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm Pop

Early-model Bieber

Paul Anka was a sort of early-model Justin Bieber. A Canadian-born singer who became a star at a young age, and was a bit of a honey. This was his first big hit: a love song in which a young man expresses his undying devotion to a lady by the name of Diana. Lyrically, Shakespeare […]

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10" 1950s 33 rpm Classical LP

A bratwurst wearing lederhosen

The Germans, it is said, have a word for everything. What we call a “Long Playing record”, for example, is a Langspielplatte. It is popular to scoff at the Germans for their long, compound words. According to the Guinness Book of Records the longest German word in common use is Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, “legal indemnity insurance companies”. […]

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10" Jazz Pop

Guitar man

To many musicians, the name Les Paul means “a Les Paul”, which is a line of electric guitars made by Gibson. Handsome things they are – that’s one below – and played by many of the greats. But first came the man Les Paul. He didn’t quite invent the electric guitar but was one of […]

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10" 1930s 78 rpm Jazz

A man of appetite

A man of appetite, was Fats Waller. Like many a sensualist, he was the son of a preacher man, born in 1904 in New York State. Astonishingly gifted, he was playing piano and organ in churches by the age of ten, and worked as a professional cinema organist while in his teens. He moved into […]

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10" 1940s 78 rpm Jazz Pop

That whistling man with the bones

Freeman David was a shoeshine boy from Alabama. While he worked, he would whistle and tap out percussion with whatever was to hand. He became good at it, a precise whistler and able to play the bones, holding four sticks in each hand rather than the usual two. As a performer, under the name “Whistling […]

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10" LP Pop

Straight from the lathe

To make a vinyl record, the master tape of your recording is played into a machine called a lathe. This has a tiny, vibrating stylus which cuts into the lacquer coating of an aluminium disc, the “acetate”. Acetate discs are usually part of the process of manufacturing vinyl records. They are cleaned and further processed, […]