Disc records were commercially produced starting in 1901. In 1910, a diameter of ten inches was established as the standard size and in 1925, the playing speed of 78 revolutions per minute became the norm. These mediums for analog sound storage, now known as “78’s,” were thick and heavy and made of a brittle, shellac-based compound.
The “LP” (long-playing) record was introduced by Columbia Records in June of 1948.
This new record was made of polyvinyl chloride, measured 12 inches in diameter and was meant to be played at a speed of 33 and 1/3 rpm. The lightweight, somewhat-flexible vinyl disc was inscribed with a spiral groove that was only .003 inches wide. This new “microgroove technology” allowed for up to 22 1/2 minutes of music to be stored on each side of the disc.
Since a 78 could contain only about 3 1/2 minutes of music per side, the longer playing time of the new LP became one of its major selling points.
In February, 1949, RCA (Radio Corporation of America) Records introduced the 7-inch, 45-rpm record that became known as the “single.”
This new disc was also made of vinyl and used microgroove technology. RCA proclaimed that the faster playing speed made for a better sounding record than the 33 1/3 rpm LP, even though the “45” could hold only the same amount of music per side as a 78.
In 1952, RCA took the 7-inch, 45-rpm record one step further by figuring out how to fit up to 7 1/2 minutes of music per side. This “extended play” disc became known as the EP.
EP’s were very popular in the United Kingdom throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. They were not so popular in the United States and thus not so easy to obtain, but nevertheless, I have three EP’s in my record collection.
The first EP that I purchased was called Four By The Beatles.
Released on May 11, 1964, it was one of only two Beatles’ EP’s produced by Capitol Records in the US. (In the UK, EMI records released a total of 21 EP’s of music by The Beatles. Four By the Beatles was the 7th.) Side one contains “Roll Over Beethoven” and “This Boy.” Side two holds “All My Loving” and “Please, Mr. Postman.” All four tracks are studio recordings; two of them are The Beatles’ cover versions of songs by American R&B artists.
The second EP that I added to my collection was got LIVE if you want it! by The Rolling Stones.
Released on June 11, 1965 by England’s Decca Records, the EP contains six “live, in-concert” recordings. “We Want The Stones,” “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” “Pain In My Heart” and “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” fill up side one. “I’m Moving On” and “I’m Alright” take up side two. Four of these are The Stones’ cover versions of songs by American artists. I heard the version of “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” from this EP one night in a record store in Cambridge, MA and just had to have it.
The last EP I bought was The Pink Parker by Graham Parker & The Rumour.
Released in the UK in early 1977, the EP followed hot on the heels of the band’s second LP – and my favorite – Heat Treatment. (That album came out in October, 1976.)
The Pink Parker contains two studio tracks – recorded “somewhere in Germany” – on side one: “Hold Back The Night” and “(Let Me Get) Sweet On You.” Side two has live recordings of “White Honey” and “Soul Shoes,” songs from Graham Parker & The Rumour’s first album, Howling Wind (July 1976).
The Pink Parker was a Top-30 hit on the British charts in March, 1977.
“Hold Back The Night” is a song originally written and recorded by The Trammps – an American Disco/Soul band that were together from 1973 to 1980. Originally released in 1973, “Hold Back The Night” became an international hit upon its re-release in 1975. The Trammps are best known for their song “Disco Inferno” thanks to its inclusion in the soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever.
Graham Parker & The Rumour’s joyous cover version of this lyrically rather sad and despondent song is high on my list of “you absolutely cannot resist dancing around the living room when this one’s playing” records.
Check it out for yourself!
The musicians on that recording are: Graham Parker, lead vocals; Bob Andrews, keyboards & backing vocals; Brinsley Schwarz, guitar & backing vocals; Stephen Goulding, drums; Andrew Bodnar, bass guitar; Martin Belmont, guitar & backing vocals; and special guest, Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson.
Recently rediscovering this EP and the Heat Treatment LP has reminded me what a big fan of Graham Parker & The Rumour I had been back in my younger days.
I fondly remember the night – Sunday, October 23, 1977, to be precise – when my girlfriend (now wife) and I hopped into my 1972 Karmann Ghia and drove from our apartment in downtown Exeter, NH to a concert at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, MA. Graham Parker & The Rumour were the opening act for Thin Lizzy, a British band riding high on their hit song, “The Boy’s Are Back In Town.” After Graham Parker & The Rumour’s exultant, rocking-to-the-rafters, 45 minute set, we left and quite contentedly drove home.
Ah, records… and cover versions… and British Rock & Roll bands…
…and rediscovering old friends.