Saturday, December 8, 2012

#611: What NOT to do with old 78's

Back when I was a kid, around age 6, the 1st batch of records I ever got included 1/2adozen old 78's -- those 10-inch-wide discs of shellac, harder & tougher & thicker & heavier than vinyl, with the tiny hole in the middle? Yeah, those. They still made "record players" you could play those on, back in 1965.
I don't remember precisely where the 78's came from. Probably from my Cousin Carol, the world's biggest Elvis fan, who also let me take home a handful of 45-rpm singles from her collection, but shooed me away from mosta the Elvis.
There might've been more than 6 78's, but the only 1's I remember now R a couple by Ricky Nelson -- "Stood Up" & "Waiting in School" & "Be-Bop Baby," Lawrence Welk's "Calcutta," Red Foley's "Old Shep" & "Don't Dilly Dally (Down in the Valley)," the Bill Black Combo's "White Silver Sands" & "Stars Fell on Alabama," & Tommy Sands' "Goin' Steady" on the purple&silver Capitol label.
'50s stuff, mostly. The Red Foley songs were probly even older. Not Xactly huge hits, either. I was probly attracted by the labels with the neatest colors or designs. Like I was with my 1st batch of 45's.
I remember the Ricky Nelson songs were pretty good '50s teen-idol-rock&roll, pleasant enuf if not Xactly Chuck Berry -- not earthshaking, but definitely OK. The only weak track on those 2 78's was a lame version of "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" Nothing could save that song.
I also remember that Lawrence Welk's "Calcutta" was actually pretty great. (Shock. Horror. Has this guy COMPLETELY lost his shit?) Who would've believed it?
I still remember parts of Red Foley's silly "Don't Dilly Dally," but all I remember about "Old Shep" is that it was ENDLESS. (Maybe it was actually "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"? Can't remember clearly anymore. Anyway....) Can still sing the chorus of "White Silver Sands," but only the title line from "Stars Fell on Alabama." & I can only remember 1 line from "Goin' Steady."
Maybe that's why Cousin Carol had no trouble letting go of that stuff. It wasn't that memorable. But it WAS 47 years ago....
I remember the 45's I got from Carol were WAY better -- Freddie Cannon's "Palisades Park" (the best song in the world when I was 6) & the screamer "June, July & August," The Supremes' "Back in My Arms Again," Johnny Rivers' "Memphis" & "It Wouldn't Happen with Me," Nino Tempo & April Stevens' "Deep Purple" & "I've Been Carrying a Torch for You So Long That I Burned a Great Big Hole in My Heart" (I am NOT making this up!), The Everly Brothers' "Walk Right Back," Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" & the great rocker "Sweetie Baby"....
The 45's were a MUCH better selection than the 78's. They definitely left their mark on me.
Which might B why around 1971, when I was 1st in2 my teen single-buying frenzy, after some advice from some so-called friends about how old & uncool they were, & besides I never played them anymore anyway.... -- I took those 1/2dozen 78's & bounced them off the side of the house 2 see what it took 2 make them break.
They were WAY tougher than 45's or albums -- sometimes it took 2 or 3 smashes against the wall before they'd shatter. That's when I learned what 78's were made of -- that sorta shellac sandwich with a donut of paper in the middle. You coulda re-shingled the roof with those things.... & I'm sure that somewhere, somebody HAS....
I looked summa those old 78's up a few years back, when I had 1 of those record-collectors' price guides in the house. The Ricky Nelson's woulda bn worth between $35 & $50 each, if they'd been in good shape.
Of course mine looked like they'd been run over by a truck... even BEFORE I bounced them off the side of the house....

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