I am writing this post to a musical accompaniment : the Radio Syncopators are playing "Beyond The Blue Horizon" from the film "Monte Carlo". You may not be familiar with the song, I certainly wasn't until I bought the record on Saturday. If you do know the tune it is probably due to one of the many cover versions that have been issued over the last 75 or so years. But the version I bought goes back to the beginnings of the song in 1930. It is an old 78 rpm 8 inch record. And it is a thing of joy.
I haven't bought any records (or CD's or call them what you will these days) for years. I am a subscriber to Napster and get my music from an endless flow of legal downloads, It's all very technological, all very clean, all very sanitised. And what choice you have! You can have symphonies or salsa, opera or house, disco or dixieland jazz. You don't have to put up with what might be available - anything and everything is available. You don't have to leaf through record boxes hoping that you just happen to find the treasure you have been in search of for most of your adult life : you just enter the title in the search box and press a button. Wonderful. Encyclopedic. Faultless. .... Boring.
I was reminded of how things used to be when we were visiting an antique market on Saturday. There on the floor was a box full of old 78 rpm records marked up at 50p each. Whilst Isobel searched for the silver dog bowl - or whatever it was she was hunting for - I spent a delicious ten minutes or so leafing through the stock. There might have only been 50 records to choose from but they were substantial things made out of heavy shellac and wrapped in colourful cardboard covers which often advertised the local record shop.
I came away from the antique centre a happy man having spent £1 and acquired "Buttons and Bows" sung by Diana Shore and "Beyond The Blue Horizon" by the Radio Syncopators. As luck would have it, my brother got me an old wind-up gramophone from e-Bay a few years ago and repaired it for my birthday (my brother inherited all the technical ability from grandfather Enoch and my father). So here I sit. Napster is nowhere in sight. I keep having to pause and wind the handle again, but that counts as exercise and is cheaper than gym membership. I have just double checked on Napster to see if they have "Beyond The Blue Horizon" and I'm glad to say it is nowhere in sight. Napster 0 - Good Old Shellac 1.