Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Single-Sided 78 rpm Record

Over the Christmas break we got out of the house for a bit and visited one of the local antiques warehouses, G.B. Antiques in Lancaster. I wasn't looking for anything in particular but I always have an eye out for old records (which usually means 78s) or old books, or really anything from my past which can give me a nice nostalgic kick.

Finding records in places like this is easy, Finding records in good condition and particularly finding 78s that are not just old collections of classical music is not always easy.

So I was pleasantly surprised to come across three different stalls that had something I could bring away with me. I even bought some 45s, though generally they are in much worse condition than the 78s. 45s didn't break - but they scratched much more easily!

The 10" record pictured dates from 1909. Unbelievable almost that it should be in its original sleeve and that the sleeve was in excellent condition. It was a bit faded and the colour was turning brownish at the edges - I've edited it in the scan to restore the colour.

It is Peter Dawson's rendition of Queen of The Earth and on the B side is... nothing. Many of the very early records were single sided. On the back of the record is an engraving of the Zonophone record company logo.

Altogether I spent £20.80 and came away with 24x 78 rpm records and 5x 45 rpm singles. Not too bad considering they were from antiques stalls, which tend to overprice stuff. The other trouble with antiques stalls is that they tend to think of records as "tat" and plonk sticky labels over them where they will ruin the record label or original sleeve.

I was lucky enough to get the sticky price label off this 1959 Marty Wilde record, but the damage over the record company's name is clear and permanent and caused by the desire to label it at 50p! It has J Mills written on it in pencil, which is harder to spot but in any case only serves to show that the record was loved and valued by a former owner.

I liked the look of these old bottles with the light shining through them, but records were the only things we bought on this visit. So to finish with, here's just a few of the rest of the day's findings.

The 45 rpm singles were in absolute mint condition, though most were in wrong or very tatty sleeves. Buying second hand vinyl is an extremely risky business and I never buy stuff that looks as though it has been given to a dog to play with!

Creeping Bentgrass in Darwen

On Friday 27 December we were out in wildest Darwen. It was the weather that was wild, not the inhabitants, I hasten to add. We were blown about on the road a bit on our way there, but we arrived safely and played for a private house party for our hosts Christine and Brian.

We have played here several times before - we usually play both a garden party in summer and a Christmas house party for Christine and Brian and have come to know many of their regular guests and neighbours. A nice relaxed gig for us too. It's a good place to try out new songs and this time The Tremeloes' Suddenly You Love Me got an airing and went down extremely well with its sing-a-long chorus!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Andre Rieu in Leeds

On the 19th December we picked up my Mum and drove over to Leeds where we had tickets to see Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

The Leeds Arena opened this year and wasn't even built when I bought the tickets. It's a great venue more or less right in the middle of Leeds and we were three of 11,500 people heading there for the night.

It could do with a few more restaurants around it, as the ones we came across were hopelessly inadequate for the number of people in the area. We ended up snatching a meal in a very basic MacDonalds - any more basic and I'd have to call it "grotty". The venue itself could do with some feeding places, as otherwise too many restaurants in the area would be without custom on nights the venue was closed.

Anyway, the concert was absolutely wonderful. Carmen Monarcha sang my favourite aria, O Mio Babbino Cara by Puccini and melted every male heart in the place - and probably for several hundred meters around it... Certainly my camera seemed to want to take more photos whenever she was on stage!

Carlos Buono from Argentina played a couple of numbers with Andre on his bandoneon and brought a Latin touch to the proceedings. He cut a very dashing figure too in his pinstripe suit and with a white hat.

The most emotional and inspirational song for me was the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, just stunning. But there was plenty of fun too in the sing-a-long songs, the snow falling on the audience during White Christmas. We just missed it. The final deluge at the end of the song reached the row in front of us, but left us dry!

We did manage to grab a couple of balloons when they were released though. Then halfway through the night Mum turned to me and said "I've lost a stone from my ring!" She had been clapping so hard that a yellow sapphire had fallen out. At the end of the night when the lights came up, against all expectations I saw it glint from the floor below us under the seat in front of me. So by waiting until the place had almost emptied I was able to go down a layer of the terrace and get it.

A brilliant night. It was always going to be a brilliant night - Andre does not give mediocre concerts! Plus the fact that out of 11,500 people, someone recognised me as a member of Creeping Bentgrass in the queue outside! The concert could have been cancelled and I would still have had a good night...

Monday, 23 December 2013

Engagement Party Performance

A good afternoon yesterday, playing at a house party for an engagement. Luckily it was a big house!

Many thanks to our hosts and best wishes to the happy couple who were the reason for the party in the first place!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Greatest Hits Albums

One of those lazy entries I'm afraid - though when I started I had no idea just how many Greatest Hits albums I had! So that's the theme. Any album labelled "Greatest Hits", "Best of..." or similar. There's some missing of course. I have Eric Clapton, The Dave Clark Five, Slade, and a few others that haven't been scanned. Plus I have numerous more where I haven't got the album because I have all the songs already on singles or other albums. That's my excuse for some glaring omissions. Amongst others: Abba, The Bay City Rollers, Kate Bush, The Carpenters, Cher, Petula Clark, Alice Cooper, The Corrs, Doris Day, Dire Straits, Dollar.... and that's only the first four letters of the alphabet!

Even so, there's almost 80 albums here! I started putting the images together last night and ran out of time to write! Some will surprise you and some may make you recoil in horror. Some of them made me do the same. With one or two I wondered "What the hell was I thinking?" But hey... Five Star had their moments...

I'll be back at the end, but for now, let's look at the album covers!

Wow! Now what sort of concert would that be? A concert that sandwiched Creedence Clearwater Revival between Bucks Fizz and Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Or Billy Fury between Fleetwood Mac and Girls Aloud! Or Thin Lizzy between Take That and The Thompson Twins...

List articles are always fun to do and this one certainly was. On the way, my music collection suggested so many other possible lists: boy bands, girl bands, singer songwriters, glam-rock, heavy, album artists, forgotten artists, novelty records (oh yes...!), musicians' careers, obscure artists/records, ground-breakers... watch this space...

So how many Greatest Hits albums do you have? Leave a comment!

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