On this day, January 10, 1949, RCA releases a new media form which helped launch the Rock ‘n’ Roll era. What was it?
In 1982, I purchased my first record, a 45 of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, the theme song to Rocky 3. The B-side contained Survivor’s song, Take You On A Saturday.
It was on this day, January 10, 1949, that RCA Records came out with the 45 one year after they released 33’s, or LP’s. An LP (ie; Long-Playing) is about 12 inches in diameter and contains around 20 to 30 playing minutes per side. Artists released their full “Album” on 33’s.
The 45, however, is seven inches in diameter and contains up to eight minutes of playing time per side. The 45’s contained hit singles from LP’s with a bonus track on side B. If you didn’t want the whole album you could always buy the hit song on a 45. The 45 had a larger hole in the middle into which you inserted a plastic adapter which allowed it to be played on the same turntables you played your LP’s on.
Prior to the 33’s and 45’s there was the 78 which could only play about five minutes per side. The way the 78’s were grooved made them a lot noisier than the 33’s or 45’s. Anyone who loves vinyl knows that wonderful sound, the needle crackle is a beautiful thing when it remains subtle, but it wasn’t so subtle on a 78.
I went through a process when I purchased a record. Each 33 was shrink-wrapped, so I’d take my thumb-nail, insert it at the top of the slot where the record came out, poke a hole in the plastic, then I’d gently run my finger-nail down the slot so as to leave the shrink wrap on the album cover for protection. Then I’d reverently tilt the album, open-slot side down, so as to let the inner sleeve containing the album gently wiggle out. Then I’d look at the credits and lyrics on that beautiful inner sleeve for a few moments, after which I’d carefully slide the album out – only touching the edges. Then, holding the album by the edges with both hands, I’d take a deep whiff of that lovely smelling vinyl – mmmmmm delicious! Then I’d gently place the record on the turn-table, grab the tube-shaped vinyl cleaner brush, place it on the record, and then let it ride the surface of the LP for a few rotations.
Proper preparations have now been made. I drop the needle, hear that “bump” sound you hear over the speakers when the needle first hits the record, then listen to the ensuing crackle of silence in anticipation of the first song. Finally, the crackle meshes with the music, the school of rock is in session! For the next 20 minutes I lay on my bed listening to great music while investigating every nook and cranny of the album cover art and reading every poetic word on the inner sleeve, only to be interrupted long enough to flip the album over to side two, after which I continue my studies for another 20 minutes. Then there were double albums! Double the music, double the art, double the inner sleeve poetry, 0h my! But I refrain because my heart can’t take so much joy in one post!
Those were the best courses of art and literature ever devised by mankind! I got an A! Now I teach my kids. They too have record players with a collection of classic vinyl! I’m a great Dad!