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12" 1950s LP Singalong

The big book of favorite old songs

“This is an age of Do-It-Yourself,” proclaims the sleeve note on this battered old LP, “not only for novice carpenters, plumbers and Sunday painters”. No indeed. Our copywriter – as ferocious a fan of alliterative adornment as ever clanged the keys of a QWERTY keyboard – goes on: For millions of music-minded moderns, tired of […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm Rock

That old black magic

I had never heard of Billy Daniels until this shellac disc – battered and scratched and with a crack running through it – came into my life. I was unsure whether it would even play, as the crack runs almost through to the label, but it worked okay. There is a noise, but no worse […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" EP

Subversive moments

Musical theatre was once one of the glories of western popular music. The best of the Broadway shows created imagined worlds which were self-contained and enduring: the Austria of the Trapp family, the Imperial Court of Siam, the class-ridden London of Eliza Doolittle. The imagined worlds were sentimentalised, true, but fine artistic creations for all […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" Pop Single

Love and theft

Billy Vaughn was an American multi-instrumentalist and band leader, who had success in the 1950s and 1960s. These were days when a hot dance band could earn a living playing instrumental versions of popular tunes. It was the quality of the playing and the inventiveness of the arrangement, rather than new material, which was the […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" EP Pop

Where good doggies go

Yesterday, driving my daughter to her soccer game, I found myself trying to explain Elvis. This isn’t easy. There is the 1950s fireball, who melded R&B and country and CFM sexuality, and changed everything. There is the long decline into bloated, jump-suited, self-parody. There is the piratical “Colonel” Tom Parker, who both made Elvis a […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" Pop Soul

Election special

There is a federal election on today in Australia. It will be very close, as elections here often are. Usually, in a close election, the government hangs on, but you never know. It has been a dreary, unedifying election campaign, which is also as expected. Even so, it is something wonderful and precious thing to […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm Dance Latin

A basket of fruit on its head

Sting’s real name is Gordon Sumner. Bono’s real name is Paul Hewson. Madonna’s real name is actually Madonna, but you see where I am going. Many is the artist who has adopted a stage name for a bit of mystique. A little while ago, I discovered the faux (but enjoyable) Latin jazz of Chaquito, whose […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm doo wop Pop

Poor old Johnny Ray

Poor old Johnny Ray … This was a first line of “Come On Eileen”, which was a huge hit in the early 1980s for a UK band, Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I loved the song, but I was a teenager and had no idea who Johnny Ray was, so asked my Dad. “Hmmph. He was a […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" EP Jazz Latin

The Iron Chef deception

There are crushing moments when illusions, fondly nurtured for years, are shattered. Santa Claus isn’t real. No Viking ever had horns on his helmet. Chairman Kaga, the poncy Japanese playboy who used his personal fortune to create Kitchen Stadium and named his men the Iron Chefs, did not exist. Not quite as devastating, because I […]

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1950s 45 rpm 7" EP Jazz

Backwards déjà vu

In this country we play a code of football known as Australian Rules, or AFL. It is different to all the other codes. At its best, it is the most spectacular and exciting sport anywhere. Okay, I am a bit biased, but I really do think so. Every team has a club song, which the […]