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12" 1930s 78 rpm Dance

Jealous rage in musical form

Arthur Fiedler was one of the great popularisers. He hated the notion that classical and orchestral music were seen as the preserve of a moneyed, snobbish elite. He wanted the music he loved made available to everyone, and as director the Boston Pops Orchestra, that is exactly what he did. He took charge of the […]

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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" 78 rpm Dance Pop

World turned upside down

“In the dark times,” asked Berthold Brecht, In the dark times Will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing About the dark times. He was right and wrong: right about the singing, but not about the subject matter. Has the human race experienced a worse year than 1942? The world was at […]

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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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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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10" 1940s 78 rpm Jazz

I happened to pass by a music store

Marie Warder was a teacher, writer and pianist who grew up in South Africa. Not long after the end of the Second World War, she was walking on a street in Johannesburg. I was about nineteen, newly married and very much in love, when I happened to pass by a music store one day, and […]

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10" 1950s 78 rpm Country

Who was G.S?

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 […]

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10" 1940s 78 rpm Dance

For the feet, not the ears

I can’t dance, not properly. I have never learned to waltz, rhumba, cha-cha or tango. I do not know the fox trot or the Boston two-step or the Charleston. I wish I did, but I came of age when the ability to dance was no longer an essential social skill. The rock’n’roll dances – the […]

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10" 1930s 78 rpm Jazz Single

The Pizza Principle

This is the excerpt for your very first post.