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12" 1960s 33 rpm Jazz LP Pop

Hard rubbish

There are some artists who are hard to take seriously, not because they are obscure but because they were once enormously popular. If you love to hunt for old records in op-shops and thrift-stores, as I do, you see these guys so often that you flick straight past them. James Last. Nana Mouskouri. Kamahl. Harry […]

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12" 33 rpm Classical Nineteenth Century

Waking from a nightmare

I first heard this piece of music used on a talking book, a version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It came in at the beginning and end of each chapter. The music is wonderfully suited to Mary’s tale of gothic horror, could almost have been written for it, though there is no direct connection. “Night on […]

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10" 1950s 33 rpm Dance LP

I have to catch everybody

It is easily 25 years since I read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, but I still remember the pivotal scene vividly. Holden Caulfield is speaking to his sister Phoebe, who is pretty much the only person he trusts. “You know that song ‘If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye’? … […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm Country LP

Sorta Country

Like quite a few great Australians, including Pharlap, Tex Morton was actually a New Zealander. Born in Nelson in 1916, he started performing at 14, and enjoyed success with travelling bands, playing and recording country songs. In the early 1930s he did what all ambitious New Zealand musicians do: crossed “The Ditch” (the Tasman Sea) […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Country Pop

Lotta hair

You know her, even if you don’t know it. You know her voice. If you have listened to Emmylou Harris’s albums, Luxury Liner and Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, or Neil Young’s Comes a Time, American Stars and Bars and Rust Never Sleeps, or the Doobie Brothers’ Minute by Minute, or a whole […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Compilations Soundtracks

The Persuader

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as stereo sound systems became more affordable, many record companies produced what you might call stereo samplers, compilations of sound effects and popular music which sounded impressive in the new format. They were sold very cheaply, or even given away, a freebie thrown in with a new record […]

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12" 1950s 33 rpm Classical LP Soundtracks

Winter is coming

When I was a teenager, I sort-of-learned to play the flute. I never got very good at it, because I rarely practiced. My feeling after each lesson, as I packed the flute into its brown plastic case, and the case into my school bag, and began the long journey home (two buses and over an […]

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12" 1940s 33 rpm Blues LP Soundtracks

Screen time

We are an extremely visual culture, and becoming more so. As images and video becomes easier and easier to create and manipulate, and as screens become better and lighter and more portable, our ability to just read, or just listen, gradually erodes. I teach at a university, and it is a constant battle to keep […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Singalong

Take a shower, lads

From the sublime to … the Shower Room Squad? Tragically, the individual identities of this vocal group is lost to posterity. They seem to have consisted of a piano player and a bunch of men who were either drunken idiots, or sober and trying to sound like drunken idiots. The few seconds of “atmosphere” before […]

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10" 1950s 33 rpm Jazz LP

When scratches are a sign of love

The vinyl microgroove LP was launched in 1949. So when this record was released, late in 1952, the technology was still new, exciting and expensive. One of the many superior features of the vinyl record is hard to appreciate, unless you have handled a shellac gramophone disc. Or, more to the point dropped one. Think […]