Posts Tagged ‘records’

Francoise Hardy

September 28, 2015

As I write this I am listening to Francoise Hardy singing her wonderful songs from the 1960s and reliving those angst ridden young teenage years when I (like loads of others) was madly in love with Francoise – an unattainable dream.

You really wondered why all the boys and girls were together in pairs, except her. Were the boys of France mad? Surely, given a chance they’d be out with Mme. Hardy.

Buying new records was not my thing back in those days. My family were still escaping from very low level finances and we were well inculcated with not wasting money on fripperies. But inevitable over the years Francoise records came my way. Or should I say we, for when we married and my wife endowed all her worldly goods on me, it included a Francoise Hardy EP.

And at this stage I remember I’m talking a foreign language to today’s generation of angst ridden young teenagers. So let’s explain Francoise Hardy first, starting with the image on a record sleeve.


Francoise epitomised 1960s beauty with her long flowing hair and simple looks – not over made up. Her songs were simple and easy to hum along to. One might not understand the words for she was French and sang in her native language, The meaning of the songs was plain though. All her songs meant she was waiting for me!

But it isn’t only the singer who might need explanation. The whole method of playing music does as well. You see we used to have these flat black discs – 7 inches across with a spiral groove on each side. That groove was wobbly and the wobbles were felt by a needle resting in it and converted to the sound. You got one song on each side – unless it was an EP or Extended Play record in which case you got two songs on each side.

And as I still listen to Francoise, I have to confess I am listening to MP3s on my computer.

Happy memories!

A South London collection

February 13, 2015

More record sleeves

I was quite amused to find four record sleeves in a row, all printed up for music traders in South London and here they are.


Let’s start on the right.


C and L Weaver were in Norbury. That was a suburban station on the line I took into London back in my train spotting days. Our trains never stopped there so I couldn’t tell you a thing about the place.

The record is


The Darktown Strutters’ Ball played by Spike Hughes and his Dance Orchestra.

Next is


L A Richards of Wimbledon – one of my frequent venues as a train spotter.

The record is a Paul Wightman one called Ragamuffin Romeo.


Third up we have


Rhythm Ltd of Thornton Heath. Thornton Heath was another suburban station my trains used to race through.

The record is a jazz standard.


It’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ performed by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra.

Which brings us to the fourth sleeve –


Willy’s of Deptford.

Deptford entered my life when I was a student. We used to enjoy a Saturday morning jaunt down to Deptford Market, rarely buying anything although I still have one item I bought there to my knowledge.

Anyway this record is


We’re Uncomfortable played by Eddie Norris and his Ambassador’s Band. And this is the one I recorded. I played it on the gramophone I use most for actually playing records. It isn’t clockwork but it is quite elderly.


It’s a battery electric gramophone and so uses a lightweight pick up which causes much less damage to the surface of the record. Normally it is in the cupboard behind it and those doors serve as a great filter for removing the crackle of these old records. The gramophone was bought for my wife’s grandfather as he got a bit arthritic. I think we inherited it back in about 1969. It is still in regular use.

You can click here to hear the record play. The record is really a comment on the uselessness of men back in the 1930s.

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.

Another interest mix from Kent

December 8, 2012

Some folks will know that I have a few old wind up gramophones and a load of records. I bought most of them very cheaply back in the 1960s. It was only in the 21st century that I discovered that family members may actually have been involved in the manufacture of some of the records.

My mum’s side of the family lived in Tonbridge in Kent. Quite a few of her aunts and uncles worked at ‘The Crystalate’.

I now quote from the Tonbridge History Society and their site at .

Millions of gramophone records were produced by the Crystalate Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company at its works in Cannon Lane, Tonbridge, between 1917 and 1937. These were 78 r.p.m. records, pressed from the brittle material shellac – the sticky secretions of an Asian insect, mixed with fine clay or other filler. Most were ten inch discs, giving about three minutes of music on each side when played on a wind-up or later an electrical gramophone. Crystalate was a major provider of popular music on disc, selling its records under the Imperial, Eclipse, and Rex labels.

Take a look at their site. It’s got lots more information.

I have many Crystalate made records in my collection. Here are a couple of them (just the labels).


Crystalate may have had offices in London but the records were made in Tonbridge.


I find it odd to think that, maybe, members of my family handled these old records (probably from the 1920s) when they were new.