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Golden Bells & Contessas

Sweet Delights

Sammy Strain & the Imperials, 1964 -, Part 4 in the series

Sammy Strain & the Imperials, 1961 - 1963 Part 3

Sammy Strain & the Fantastics Part 2

Sammy Strain & the Chips Part 1

Asbury Park Vocal Groups Pt. 2

Asbury Park Vocal Groups, Pt.1

Philly's Original Capris

Little Jimmy & The Tops

Teddy & Twilights, Deckers

Groups from Philly's Francisville - Belltones, Joe Cook's Thrillers, Royal Demons, Madison Brothers

Sensations - Part 1

Sensations - Part 2

Johnny Maestro, the Crests & Brooklyn Bridge

Johnny Stiles & the Medallions on Essex

The Plurals

The Vic Donna Story

Orioles' Deborah Chessler

Tyrone & the Nu-Ports

Windy City Harmony: Calvaes, Blenders & Accents

        The Del Larks

Richard Barrett Part 1: The Valentines

Richard Barrett
Part 2:
Frankie Lymon & Teenagers

Richard Barrett
Part 3: The Chantels, Clickettes,
Fashions Veneers

Richard Barrett
Part 4:

Little Anthony & Imperials

Richard Barrett
Part 5: Lewis Lymon
&
Teenchords Jimmy Castor & Juniors

Richard Barrett
Part 6: The Channels,
Isley Bros, Del Knights

Richard Barrett Part 7: The 3 Degrees, Showmen

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Renovations to the Classic Urban Harmony Library

    Concert Reviews,
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bullet2014 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
bullet Billy Vera Big Band at the Cutting Room NYC
 
bullet VGHA Extravaganza III
 
bullet Asbury Park Gospel Explosion

African American
Museum Philadelphia
Gospel Awards Ceremony

 
bullet Ray Goodman & Brown in Plainfield
 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at NJ Doo Wop Singers Club 2013

 
bulletEncounters at Somerset Run
 
bulletRichard Nader's Doo Wop Celebration XXVI
bullet
2013 Asbury Angels Plaque Dedications
 
bullet VGHA Acappella Extravaganza II
 
bullet2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
 
bullet Time Capsule Show 50th Anniversary
bullet
2013 Portsmouth, VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at Manchester, NJ

 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at New Providence Library

 
bulletJohn Moore's Middle Room Records Closes
 
bulletLittle Isidore in Fair Lawn, NJ
 
bulletNJ Doo Wop Singers Club Jan 2013
 
bulletCelebrating Asbury Park's West Side Harmony
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club 4th Anniversary
 
bulletChuck Berry Honored by the R&R Hall of Fame
 
bulletQuiet Storm at Somerset Run
 
bulletAsbury Angels 2012 Induction Ceremony
 
bullet2012 Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bullet2012 Lead East
 
bulletTNT R&B and Doo Wop Party, Aug 2012
 
bulletPam Nardella's Frankie Lymon Tombstone BBQ
 
bullet Classic Urban Harmony Celebrates Vocal Harmony & the Masqueraders 50th Anniversary
Multi-Part
 
bulletFrankie Lymon Tombstone Finds a New Home
 
bulletStormin Norman Seldin & Return of Ray & Darchaes in Monmouth Beach NJ
 
bullet2012 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletTNT North Jersey R&B and Doo Wop Party - 2nd Anniversary
 
bulletAcappella Extravaganza at Molloy College 2011
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club (NJ) Third Anniversary
 
bulletSoul of Asbury Park Concert
 
bulletMasqueraders Silver Star Competition
 
bullet6th Annual Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bulletSouth Philly String Band Club After Party to 6th Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bulletTymes' Norman & Peggy Burnett BBQ 2011
 
bullet2011 Lead East
 
bullet Morris Museum Acappella & Doo Wop Concert # Two
 
bullet Morris Museum Acappella Concert # One
 
bulletClassic Urban Harmony Presentation NJ Doo Wop Groups Part 2
 
bulletClassic Urban Harmony Presentation NJ Doo Wop Groups Part 1
 
bulletMorris Museum LaBamba & Quiet Storm Concert
 
bulletMorris Museum Jersey Rocks Exhibit Opening
 
bulletMorris Museum Jersey Rocks Launch Party
 
bulletEvening With Vocal Group Legends Concert
 
bulletRe-memberThen Finds Its Echo
 
bulletSteve Applebaum Tribute Concert
 
bulletWFDU Fundraiser, Teaneck, NJ March 2011
 
bullet Four J's Jimmy Testa Tribute & Benefit Concert
 
bulletVic Donna Group Rehearsal at CUH Headquarters
 
bulletPam & Charlie's 5th Anniversary Celebration - Multi Parts
 
bullet2010 Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bullet"Doll Face" Musical Comedy
 
bulletNJ Doo Wop & Street Corner Harmony Association
 
bulletNick @ Nite Open Mic Night
 
bulletLeins Wedding
 
bullet"Fun-Raiser" at South Philly String Band Club
 
bulletRichard Nader’s Summer Doowop Reunion XXI
 
bulletPhilly Doo Wop Diner Mural
 
bulletMaking Crossroads 2
 
bulletCornerstone CD Release Party
 
bulletVirginia Legends of Gospel Concert
 
bulletS. Philly Stringband Club Jan 13, 2010
 
bulletRemembering Ronnie I. Concert Nov 2009
 
bulletPGHA's Heavenly Harmony XII Concert
 
bulletS. Philly Stringband
Club
Testimonial
 
bulletFilming a Documentary
on Acappella
 
bulletAcappella Group Soul'D
Out on
Celebrity
Solstice
Oct 2009
 
bulletBattleship New Jersey Dance & Concert
 
bulletWVLT Cruisin' 92.1 Concert
 
bulletTymes' Norman & Peggy Burnett 2009 BBQ
 
bullet2009 Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival
 
bulletAcappella Group Choice at Franklin Township Public Library
 
bullet American Bandstand Studio Fundraiser
 
bulletAcappella at the South Philly String Band Club Revisited
 
bulletFour Man Trio at At Dover NJ's Attilio's Tavern
 
bulletNicky Addeo at Asbury Park's Wonder Bar
 
bulletASAP's First Acappella Concert
 
bulletAcappella at the South Philly String Band Club
 
bulletVisiting Radio's Past & Present at WDVR-FM
 
bullet Chicago SoulTrip USA
 
bulletR&R Hall
of Fame
Interview with
Orioles' Deborah
Chessler

 
bulletSilhouettes' John Wilson Visits CUH World Headquarters
 
bulletNJ Doowop Group Harmony Club, 2009.
 
bullet New Years Eve 2008 with Nicky Addeo & Nite Owls
 
bullet 2008 European Road Trip: Deep River Quartet & Golden Gate Quartet
 
bullet 2008 Black Swan Burlington Concert
 
bullet 2008 Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival
 
bullet Mills Bros,
Ink Spots
Beach Haven

 
bulletPhilly Doo Wop
Festival 2008

 
bullet Philly Doo Wop
Festival 2006

    PROFILES IN
    HARMONY

    In Tribute

bullet [New!]Robert Murphy, Neighbors Complaint
 
bullet Walter McNeil, Gospel Nobleaires
 
bullet Jewel Akens, 4 Dots
 
bulletVirgil Johnson, Velvets
 
bulletCleotha Staples, Staple Singers
 
bulletDarlene McCrae, Cookies, Raeletts
 
bulletGregory Carroll, Four Buddies, Orioles, Dappers, Ink Spots
 
bulletJerome Ramos, Velours
 
bulletMickey "Guitar" Baker
 
bulletEarl Speedo Carroll, Cadillacs
 
bulletMajor Harris, Delfonics, Nat Turner Rebellion, R&B Soloist
 
bulletBilly Scott, Prophets
 
bulletCleve Duncan, Penguins
 
bulletDeborah Chessler, Songwriter,Mentor to the Orioles
 
bulletWilla Ward, Ward Singers, Gay Charmers
 
bulletBobby Thomas, Vibranaires, Vibes, V-Eights, Orioles
 
bulletJohn Jones, Moments Pleasure, Norristones, Copians
 
bulletChester Brown. The Counts
 
bulletJimmy Ellis, Trammps, Cordells, Exceptions
 
bulletJimmy Castor
 
bulletJack Scandura
 
bullet Cadillacs' Bobby Phillips
 
bulletBobby Robinson
 
bulletRobins' Grady Chapman
 
bullet Blue Notes' Roosevelt Brodie
 
bullet Moonglows' Harvey Fuqua
 
bulletCrests' & Brooklyn Bridge's Johnny Maestro
 
bulletDelroys' Reggie Walker
 
bulletSolitaires' & Vocaleers' Herman Dunham
 
bulletValentines' & Del-Knights' Eddie Edgehill
 
bulletChris Bartley
 
bulletSilhouettes' John Wilson
 
bulletLes Paul
 
bullet Castelles' Billy Taylor

    1950's R&B &
    Doo Wop
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The Academics 

bullet

The Avalons

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The Avons

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Claude Robinson & Creations

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bulletThe Ad-Libs
 
bullet Jackson Five (Pre-Motown & Other Rarities)

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bullet40 Years of Group Harmony: Ray Block's Photos of Vintage, Ad-Libs, Reunion, Bon-Aires, East River Drive
 
bulletYounger Dayz

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bulletThe
Angelic Gospel
Singers

 
bulletClaude Jeter & the Swan Silvertones

    Early Black
    Vocal Groups
    1870 -1930

bullet

The American
Jubilee Singers

 

bullet

The Dinwiddie Quartet

   History of
   Recording

bullet

The 60th Anniversary of the Vinyl 45 RPM Single

    Rare Record
    Labels

bulletHico Label

   Holiday Harmony

bullet Vocalaries' White Christmas
 
bulletPenguins' A Christmas Prayer
 
bulletDominoes' Christmas In Heaven
 
bulletCameos' Merry Christmas
 
bulletDrifters' White Christmas
 
bulletOrioles'
Lonely Christmas

    Hometown
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bullet Philadelphia Area Doo Wop & Acappella Groups
 
bulletBermuda Vocal Groups

    Ongoing
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Unknown Vocal Groups

     Great LINKS

 

 

 

The Vinyl 45 RPM Single Turned 60 in 2009


Happy 60th Birthday to the Vinyl 45 RPM single!  Two more years and the 45 can collect Social Security! 

What?   You thought the vinyl record died years ago?  Well, you’re wrong.  Word is it’s off life-support and even making a slight comeback.

It is true that now days, kids grow up thinking music can only be stored digitally.  People walk around with those nano-sized boxes with wired headphones holding sixteen bazillion electronic files, each one turned instantly into a song.  But that’s not how to collect music.  You can’t hold an mp3 in your hand and look at the label!  Long live vinyl!  And we’re not talking flooring or siding.  Here at Classic Urban Harmony, we’re talking “records.”

          Even we can’t imagine what it was like during the early days of recorded music.  How we would have loved to crank the handle on the old Victrola, drop the needle on the Edison disc, stick our ears next to that large brass horn and catch the latest tunes.

          In the beginning there was only wax.  And it was used to make wax cylinders, with grooves in the wax to record your voice.  Yes, there were black singing quartets on wax cylinders about a hundred years ago.  We have eight or nine of them in our Classic Urban Harmony Archives, but there are a couple a dozen more on our want list!


Wax Cylinder of Polk Miller & Old South Quartette
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archive)
 

          By the early 1900’s, wax was also used to coat cardboard round flat plates, called discs or records.  Many different size discs and speeds were tried in the early days.  Recording inventors found there were three ways to increase the time of the recording on a disc: use larger discs (this was bulky); use slower speeds (and lose fidelity); or make the grooves narrower (they wear out too quickly if you use the wrong material, like wax).

          As early as 1901, Victor records tried out a 7" record, but it was abandoned two years later in favor of the new standard - a 10" 78 RPM, wide groove wax disc.  It was the best combination of good fidelity and size to give a three-minute record.


Early 1900's Edison Disk.  Such 78 RPM records were 1/4" thick.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 

          In 1926 Vitaphone needed a method of putting sound to their silent movies.  They wanted to do it by playing the movie sound track on record but didn’t want to change records every 3 minutes.  So, they came out with a 16" record, recorded at 33-1/3 RPM and made of a new material, shellac.  Shellac was more durable than wax.  Shellac came from a tiny scale insect that infested trees in India.  It seems these slimy disgusting bugs were sucking the juice of the trees and excreting shellac continuously.  How someone thought of turning it into phonograph records is beyond us.  The 33-1/3 RPM speed also gave poor fidelity but for a movie sound track, who cared?  People were used to silent films, so any sound was an improvement.  The grooves were a little bit narrower and the records still wore out quickly, even with shellac.  But shellac worked fine for 78 RPM singles with their wider grooves.

          By the late 1920's, records had become electronically recorded and played back.  Now you could listen in better fidelity through a speaker instead of acoustically through that big horn.  Better sound quality meant more record sales.  Music on two new media, electronically recorded discs and radio, was a welcomed distraction from the economic woes of the country.

           Thus, the media of choice became the 10", 78-RPM shellac single.  It was heavy and very breakable.  But it was the best we had at the time.


Shellac 78 RPM Records, this one from 1939.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 

          In 1931, RCA Victor tried, and failed, to introduce a 12" 33 1/3 RPM, long playing record, made out of something called Vitrolac.  The grooves were twice as narrow, and the records wore out very quickly.  Also, they required a special new record player which cost hundreds of dollars - nobody could afford it during the Depression.

          Then, in 1933, a Bakelite research chemist named Frazier Groff, made a major discovery.  He found that a class of polymers called vinyl could be used to make phonograph records.  Vinyl records were less breakable and could be made more flexible and at lighter weight.  More important, vinyl didn’t wear down so fast, even when the grooves were made very narrow!

          By the mid 1930's, some radio transcriptions were being made of vinyl.  These were usually 16", 33 1/3 RPM, and contained 6 recordings per side.  Vinyl was still not offered to the public because it was too expensive.

          Then something happened that forever changed the face of recorded sound.  It was called World War II.  The U.S. War Department created the V-Disc program to ship records to military personnel overseas.  In spite of careful packing, many of the shellac V-Discs were arriving broken.  The V-Disc program quickly switched to vinyl V-Discs.  Within the U.S., private record manufacturers were having trouble getting shellac during the war.  What limited supplies of shellac were available had to be extended with filler which created some mighty noisy recordings.  To survive, record manufacturers had to find new record pressing materials, even if they were more expensive.  Some began making vinyl 78’s.

          In 1948, Columbia introduced the 33-1/3 RPM Vinyl LP.  It cost more than a 78, but you got 12 songs instead of 2 on one lightweight, unbreakable disc.  The grooves were very narrow (microgrooves) and required a special diamond-tipped stylus, instead of a metal needle.  And you needed a new record player ... or you could adapt your old player.  The first LP's were 10" in diameter to fit on the modified 78 RPM turntables.  Later they became 12".    

          Columbia wanted the entire record industry to standardize on the 33 1/3 speed and format.  In April 1948, Columbia president William S. Paley called a meeting with David Sarnoff, president of Columbia’s chief rival, RCA Victor.  Paley proposed RCA switch to the vinyl 33 1/3 LP format also.  Sarnoff didn’t want to be paying licensing fees to Columbia for pressing RCA records until RCA could build its own 33 1/3 RPM pressing plants.  But he did realize the future of recorded music was in vinyl.  He refused the deal and asked his engineers to put a rush on a project they’d started and dropped ten years earlier, the vinyl 45 RPM single.

          On March 31, 1949, RCA Victor introduced its answer to Columbia, the 7" vinyl 45 RPM single.  The project had been reactivated only a year before.  RCA’s top secret development project was referred to as Madame X.  The “45” was smaller, also less breakable, and had a large center hole for playing on RCA’s new record player.  The player was a small, inexpensive record changer that could be plugged into any music console.  It allowed 45's to be stacked and played in succession.  78's stacked like that would break.  The great "War Of The Speeds" was on!


Vintage RCA 45 Changer
From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives
 

1949 RCA Victor magazine ad, explaining "Project Madame X".
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)


        Initially RCA issued 7 different series of 45's:  Pop, Pop Classics, Country & Western, Children's, Classical, Foreign, and R&B.  Each had a different color label, different color vinyl, and Gold Print.  RCA advertised that now you could “color code” your record collection.  The Gold Print was impossible to read and was soon changed to Silver Print.
 

New Popular Records (47-Series) were on Black Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 


Children’s Records (also 47-Series) but were on Yellow Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 


Country & Western Records (48-Series) were on Light Green Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 


Classical Music Records (49-Series) were on Red Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

 

Rhythm & Blues Records (50-Series) were on Florescent Orange Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 


International Records (51-Series) were on Light (Sky) Blue Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)

 

Older (claasic) popular records (52-Series) were on Dark Blue Vinyl.
(From the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)
 


        Eventually, RCA dropped the different colors of vinyl in favor of all black vinyl.

         In answer to Columbia's long-playing (LP) album, RCA produced the 45 RPM Box Set.  These included 3-5 records by the same artist, in a hard cardboard box, often with liner notes.

         In answer to RCA’s 7” vinyl singles, Columbia started issuing 7” 33 1/3 vinyl singles with small holes.  These didn’t last very long and were soon discontinued.

         Columbia and RCA Victor began actively courting other labels to sign on with their technologies.  Record labels were quick to line up with either RCA or Columbia or both.  Some labels hedged their bets and began producing 45’s, 33’s and 78’s.  With the introduction of any new recording format, record labels go deep into their vaults and reissue older material in the new form.  After all, they can resell old classics to the same people who bought them the first time, with no additional studio or mastering costs.

          By the end of 1951, both RCA and Columbia gave in and began producing both 45's and 33's.  It turned out that both formats could coexist.  The Great War of the Speeds was over.

          The 45 RPM single was to a large part responsible for the Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll Age of the 1950’s.  Teenagers could carry a lightweight stack of 45’s to a party and put them on an automatic changer.  Records dropped down in the desired order and created their own dance party.  Older 78’s would have just broken.

         While LP’s and cassette tapes became more popular in the 1970’s, vinyl 45’s remained popular until replaced by CD’s in the 1980’s.  Eventually music became digital.  Yet many people still feel vinyl gives a fuller, warmer sound.  Vinyl records are still being made.  And vinyl 45’s will always have a home in the Classic urban Harmony Archives.  Long live the 45! 

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Thanks to our good friend Tom Rowell for suggesting this feature.

Throughout the month of May, Classic Urban Harmony will have memorabilia celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the 45 on display at the Franklin Township Library, Somerset, NJ.  See our Events Calendar for more details.

Copyright © Classic Urban Harmony LLC, 2009.  All Rights Reserved.