Posts Tagged ‘78rpm’

The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomon’

April 13, 2016

The Bonn1e Banks o’ Loch Lomon’

We have been up alongside Loch Lomond on several occasions. It really isn’t that far from Glasgow and maybe it owes its fame to that closeness – as well, of course, as lovely scenery.

But before taking a look at it, let’s look at one of my 78rpm records.


This record is venerable for it is a single sided disc. The other side has no groove, no sound and no label.

image004Instead it carries the company logo.

You can her Peter Dawson singing by clicking here –  . This recording was made in 1907.

Our first trip to Loch Lomond was back in 1970 when my true love and I arrived at Balloch Pier by train from Glasgow to await a trip up to Tarbet on a lake ship which turned out to be Maid of the Loch. The voice of the lad behind us in the queue sticks in the memory. This excited Glaswegian boy saw Maid of the Loch approaching and told his mother, ‘Maamy. It’s a beg shap’. We were struck by how what we would say as big ship, both with the same vowel sound had been spoken with two different vowel sounds – neither of them the one we’d use. I do hope that the Glaswegian accent has survived and hasn’t been changed by what some folks perceive as correct English.

We were in luck that day. The sun shone and the banks of Loch Lomon’ did indeed look bonnie.

image006Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond from Maid of the Loch.

image008The ‘beg shap’, Maid of the Loch leaves Tarbet.

Since then we have not been so lucky. Well first of all we have taken a car and you can drive very happily up the west side and really find almost nowhere to stop – until Tarbet, that is. We seem to have found Tarbet a place of mist and drizzle but it will, of course, have weather like anywhere else.

So here are a few Loch Lomond photos from the 21st century.


This was Tarbet in 2001 and again in 2004


image014This was Tarbet in 2009 and on our return a bit bonnier near Inveruglas


A Thousand and One Nights.

May 19, 2015

Regulars will know I have quite a large collection of the old 78 RPM records.  Most I have because I like the music from what might get called the jazz age. I do like jazz but equally I like the less jazzy dance band music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

Some of my records, though, celebrate a milestone in history or maybe have a quirky record label and this one, I think, has both of these.

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph which played cylindrical tubes. They, of course, could only have a track cut into one side.

Emil Berliner’s gramophone played the flat discs we call records and a big advantage was the ability to press the groove into it making mass production easier. But at first nobody thought of putting another track on the underside of the record. They were all ‘single siders’.

When the light dawned it was something to celebrate and this record does just that by calling itself ‘The Twin’ and stating in big writing that it is a double sided record.

So here is one side of this record.


This, as you can see, is not Thousand and One Nights. Labels stuck on that side rather obscure some parts, but here it is.


The 6D label can’t have anything to do with the original record and must have been stuck on later. The original label has the look of its age (about 1908). The fonts all have that little line known as a serif at the ends of each stroke. The 6D is a very austere sand serif font and is surely much more recent. But, having said that, the other label, presumably put there by a retailer, is also in a sans serif font.

I have recorded this, played on my little Peter Pan Gramophone. The quality is dreadful. The old record is well worn and very hissy!

You can hear Thousand and One Nights by clicking here.


February 27, 2015

I started collecting 78RPM records back in the early 1960s. I particularly liked 1920s dance band music and Whispering, played by Paul Whiteman and his Ambassador orchestra is an early example for this foxtrot was recorded in 1920. It quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

Of course, I’m horrified by the fact that a record that was a mere 42 years old when I bought it at a local jumble sale, is now a veteran of 95. I’ve owned it for more than 50 years!


This is a 10 inch diameter 78 RPM record which appears to have a four shillings (4/=) price tag on it. The stamp on the record indicated that duty was paid of 1½d. That’s little more that ½p in present money.

Paul Whiteman was given the sobriquet, ‘The King of Jazz’. True jazz enthusiasts probably cringe at the nickname for Paul’s music quite definitely was not jazz but rather was played, at times in a jazzy style.

The think that made Whispering a real favourite was that one section has a swanee whistle as lead instrument. These were also known as slide whistles and have the benefit (or huge disadvantage) of being able to play absolutely any note. It is horribly difficult to get just the right one.

But listen here to one of my old gramophones (it also dates from 1920 so is perfect for this piece of music) playing the record.


Johnson Rag

February 1, 2015

This could sound like some kind of cleaning product. Let’s just say it isn’t. I’m not sure that Johnson Rag is a particularly well known Glenn Miller performance. I have a number of CDs and it doesn’t appear on them. But I also (and there’s no surprise about this) have quite a collection of good old 78rpm Glenn Miller records which I assume date back to the 1940s. Johnson Rag is on the other side of ‘Yes my darling Daughter’. Here’s the record label image002 Yes it’s on the HMV label And yes, it is a good tune. You can hear some of it by clicking the link below.

I’m sorry that my Dulcetto gramophone can sound a bit tinny. – I have never used it  to showcase a record before. It’s probably the wind up gramophone I have that is nearest in age to Glenn Miller’s recording. Even so it is from the 1920s rather than the late 30s or 40s. Sometimes little coincidences happen and finding this record brought a smile to me. It was the combination of record and the sleeve it was in that did it – so here’s the sleeve. image004 It’s in a sleeve provided by Hobson and Allen of Sheffield. The simple amusement I got is that I have a niece with surname Johnson who lives in Sheffield. A Johnson record in a Sheffield sleeve just seemed fitting.

Record coasters

January 9, 2015

My regular readers will know that I have a taste for dance band music on old 78 rpm records played on mechanical gramophones.

Another of my gifts at the most recent Christmas concerned such items. Somebody had the bright idea of taking the middles of such records, sticking a piece of felt on the back and selling them as coasters. I was given a little collection of four such items.


I’d like to hope that the whole records were beyond real use. Otherwise it seems a waste of them.

Let’s pick on a couple of them.


Night and Day – a Cole Porter song sung by the Comedy Harmonists. As far as I can make out this was a collection of German singers who operated from about 1929 to 1934


Cryin’ for the Carolines is film music, played in syncopated fashion by Raie da Costa. She came from South Africa originally and sadly died in 1934 so this record dates from the same era as Night and Day.

Search on You Tube and you can here both records. Obviously, my coasters don’t still have the groove with the music recorded.

I rather like these coasters. Actually using them might be a problem for it will rapidly wear away the paper labels.

A Record Album

October 20, 2014

Amongst things this happy nerd does is mount stands at fetes to support a charity and give talks, also to support a charity. The charity is actually a local museum which is 100% volunteer run. Being a museum it has a historical focus and to help create atmosphere, or at talks to give the audience a break from hearing me, I do play the old 78 rpm records on one of my period gramophones.

The record album is particularly useful since it houses the brittle and breakable records safely and securely.


Inevitably, I know nothing really of the origins of this album but there is what I guess is a retailer’s badge inside.


So presumably somebody from the Sussex coast was a first owner. My grandparents lived in Bexhill but they never had a gramophone so I know it had nothing to do with them.

Let’s see some of the records – the case holds 12 of them which could mean about an hour and a quarter of continuous play.

I have a taste for 1920s dance band music and here we have Shufflin, Along played by the Queen’s Dance Orchestra directed by Jack Hylton.


The sleeves in the album allow you to see the record labels. This one dates from 1922.


‘Looking for a Boy’ played by Phil Ohman, Victor Arden with their orchestra is a wonderful mix of Gershwin tunes played as a piano duet and recorded in 1926. You can click here to listen to this piece of music as it spins on one of my wind-ups. The sharp eyed might notice this isn’t a 78 RPM record. Oh no, it’s an 80 RPM!


This Paul Wightman record dates from 1923.

And let’s see an open album.


Great music – I think – in a lovely album.




Another sleeve from the past

February 22, 2014

When it comes to my absurdly large collection of old 78rpm records I really like the jazzy dance bands of the 1920s and 30s. Well, I like jazz generally so things earlier and later than that that feature jazz ‘horns’ I tend to go for. But having recently come across this record sleeve, I have to say I think it is absolutely smashing and I think it probably dates originally from the 50s. No doubt an expert in memorabilia would be able to tell me if I’m right.

Certainly I found a picture of the same sleeve (but with a different address) on the net with a London Records 1957 sticker on it.

Here is the sleeve.


The record in the sleeve is more like a 1930 disc. I’m not sure if the ‘Tottenham 1960-61 refers to a phone number or maybe a football season. Wasn’t that a season in which Tottenham Hotspur did the League and Cup double?

I love the line drawings which seem to capture the spirit of the age. Here we have the radiogram and sheet music in use. The other side has different images.


The piano tuner is at work and we have a pair of musicians performing.

I think this sleeve is great fun. I’ve done a post about a book on map cover art. I wonder if there has been anything done on record sleeve art?

A forgotten gramophone

January 19, 2014

Both my wife and I have had some involvement with music and we have a cupboard filled with odd or even quite normal instruments. In a recent sort out we even came across a gramophone I had entirely forgotten. It is a Lumar Mechanical Toy Gramophone and I think it dates from the early 1960s. Not only had I forgotten the gramophone, I have no memory of where it came from. But it was there, in the cupboard.


As can be seen, we still have the box it came in. This tells us that the machine came from the stable of Louis Marx and Co in Swansea

Inside is a gramophone in two pieces. One part is the clockwork motor and turntable. The other is the needle carrier, diaphragm and sound arm.


The two parts are designed to slot together very easily.

A key fits down one of the holes in the turntable to allow the motor to be wound.


We have a collection of ten records produced for this machine.


They are a mix of Christmas carols and other popular music for children. Any of the records which carry a date say 1963 so they are over 50 years old. They play at 78 revolutions per minute but look much more like the 45s which were the modern thing back then.

You can click here to hear the machine playing a short extract of ‘Blow the man down’.

My hand appears to press the brake / speed control lever and then put the needle in the groove. After a quick speed adjustment, the music starts.

For those who want to know, the brake lever operates a pad on a James Watt style governor which aims to keep a constant revolving speed even though the motor is running down all the time.

Not the only happy nerd in the world

November 23, 2013

From time to time I get to visit my pal Nick up in Norfolk. I have known him since we were at junior school so he is a very old friend. He’s very different from me, but he has nerdy tendencies and one of these was in evidence when we paid a quick visit last year.


On the table, there was Nick’s wind up gramophone, complete with record. He also had a book of HMV records so he could date his record. There are obviously other records there in a case. I spot a Broadcast 12 in the sleeve – a cheap record which used narrower grooves so a 10 inch record could play as much as a normal 12 inch one, albeit at a slightly reduced volume. A toolkit is there as well so maybe Nick had needed to do some running repairs on his gramophone. I believe it is a Columbia portable.


The record is from the dance band era being a performance of ‘Loving you the way I do’, a fox trot, by Ambrose and his Orchestra. It dates from 1931.

Nick and his wife provide a real home from home for us. Like me, he seems such a happy nerd.

Lazy Mary!

October 1, 2013

Today we are looking at another cheap record produced for Woolworth stores. In 1930 a new label was introduced – ‘Eclipse’. In this case we are looking at a children’s record of a nursery rhyme.


The record sleeve makes it really – a sleeve featuring many favourite nursery rhyme characters.  The record itself is ‘of the era’ with a very correct and clear voice singing ‘Lazy Mary won’t you get up’ with piano accompaniment. I can’t say this is a favourite for listening to and you’ll be able to feel the same if you try it by clicking here.

But it is altogether redolent of its time and I love it for that.

It can go back in the sleeve now and get filed away!