Back to Life, Back to Reality

Unsure how to start the new year, I’ll give a quick shout out to our trusty portable, the Numark PT-01 USB. If ever you’re looking for a rugged portable that plays 33 1/3s, 45s, and 78s, this is your machine. She runs on 6x D batteries, and if you’re serious, I suggest investing in EBL rechargeable batteries and the EBL Universal Charger. Well worth the money, on all accounts.

Needle Needs

Well, the much-expected and heavily-dreaded day has come, and after 14 years of ownership, the 1966 Philco cabinet hi-fi all-transistor stereophonic radio-phonograph is in need of a replacement needle. Sigh. Although miffed and a bit curious (as to how it broke), I’m confident that a replacement can, and will be found. Now begins a hunt of a completely different kind.

Life…

NewYesterday was a laborious day of (regular work) and tickle-fixing the1966 Philco. She’s fully functional, speed-accurate, and bass-nasty (as she always was). This, for those keeping count, is the 3rd time I’ve opened her up to correct the speed issue, and six albums / 38 hours later, she’s running smooth and strong as ever. 50 motha’ flippin’ years old (1966 -2016), this tired ol’ bitch, and she still sounds absolutely amazing!

Listening in Depth Part II aka Sound at its Noblest

DepthYou have to go way back to July 17, 2013 for the first Groove post on fine quality Columbia Phonograph ad-serts. As you’ll recall, “Listening in Depth” is a buzz term used by Columbia sound laboratories to promote their seemingly revolutionary Directed Electromotive Power (D.E.P.) phonograph console. Featured here is Model 535 which boasts and brags about all the same cabinet wood finish variations as Model 532, but ups the ante in overall power and sound quality (if only marginally). This beautiful piece of 1958 machinery would go perfectly in any (or every) room in my house, and I’ll personally shake the hand of the first person to send me one. Email me for shipping address.

Improvements

WorkstationWith improvements to day job facilities comes improvements in day job workstations. I am, along with my team, very excited to now have a turntable in the office. The Numark PT-01 with iHome speaker have been in full swing since our team (temporarily) moved into a new facility. We’ve been spinning The Sun Ra Arkestra, The Kinks (obviously, and often), Chicago, Dylan, Madonna, Tim Hardin, Cibo Matto, Duran Duran, Devo, Santogold, Ratatat, The Police, and of course, Belle & Sebastian featured here. File under “simple pleasures of spinning vinyl on the go.”

DIS-CHARGER

DIS-CHARGER

New and reviewed in the December 1956 issue of Popular Mechanics, the Mercury Scientific Products Corp. manufactured DIS-CHARGER is somewhat of a mystery in 2015. We know it helps to keep records dust and static free, but we don’t know how! (Quick Google search) Ah-ha! We do now! From the mouths of babes (or mechanic nerds from 1956), here is, verbatim, how the Mercury Scientific Products Corp. DIS-CHARGER flawlessly functions:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 7.58.06 PMRecords will sound better and last longer when tiny Dis-Charger, Fig. A, is clipped to record-player tone arm. Unit draws off static charge as record is played, releasing injurious and noise-producing dust clinging to record grooves. – Popular Mechanics, December, 1956 (page 157)

(photo courtesy of Popular Mechanics, and is used entirely without permission)

With Time, Comes Maintenance

MotorSo, the hi-fi is on the fritz. Well, that’s nothing a trip to the local hardware store, and the local pharmacy can’t fix (or so I’m hoping). How something is programmed to revolve at precisely 33.33 rpms is beside me in the first place, but one thing (has been) is painfully clear… the living room turntable needs fixing.

Today’s laborious result = still needs a bit of work, but at least this 1966 motor is as crystal as Palmolive dish soap.

The Blackouts During a Blackout

BlackoutsWhen the first one hit, I found myself amongst a cloud of darkness, and a kitchen full of dirty dishes. When the second one hit, I (literally) ran to the office for my portable, and this 1985 release (Wax Trax! Records cat. no. WAX006), Lost Soul’s Club by the Blackouts. I’ve lived in Southern California for over 10 years and have never experienced a blackout, so, quick on my feet, I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity (however brief), to enjoy the Blackouts during an actual blackout. Lucky for me (less so for my SO), this one lasted three hours.

I’m still working on an actual, respect-given write-up about my portable turntable setup (battery operated Numark PT-01 and iBN24 iHome rechargeable speaker, gifted by my thoughtful, music-loving parents), but I will say this: the ability to listen to records literally anywhere and at literally any time is a luxury I’m rapidly becoming accustomed to.Power Outage

Moscow Mules at 3am

3am RantFueled by a Moscow Mule at three in the morning (the first I’ve ever made for myself), I sit, alone, ripe with intensity at the notion of plugging away at today’s fiendish post. Unfortunately, I have no geological compass with which to guide my lamenting rants. My scorned conscious maligns itself at continuously writing about writing about music, instead of actually writing about music… the byproduct of never taking myself too seriously.

Why music? Furthermore, why the tedious and lethargic interactivity of a flippable media disc? And why does it provide so much relentless satisfaction? Are we slaves to our pleasures? Would we care to acknowledge the answer we know to be true? I’m not immune to the truth. I just choose to keep it at bay in the back of my mind next to my burgeoning narcissism, and that video of me singing Pour Some Sugar on Me as a nonsensical child.

Perhaps, personalized discovery is to blame… or to credit. A sea of emotions built, and then repeatedly cast upon the wall with each gratifying listen. Music is above all other things, the greatest distracter of deafening silence. Because, once the silence takes hold, you’re stuck with the worst conversation you can possibly imagine… the conversation with yourself.

I listen to music in order to mute my internal monologue. My unconscious self, much like my conscious self, is a raging idiot, and I’ll do just about anything in my power to shut it the hell up… I don’t see harm in fanning this enduring process, do you?

Permanent Records Says: Stay Cheesy

Permanent RecordsI’ve been accumulating a fairly decent slipmat collection these days. The most recent addition is this deliciously clever little number from Permanent Records, a quaint little shop in Eagle Rock, and very tiny record label.

I’ve never been a DJ, but have always gotten a devilish kick out of clothing my turntables. Forever and a day ago, I posted about my newly acquired Grand Royal slipmat lot, and right now, under my More Charlie Barnet album (currently spinning on the platter), is a slipmat with the mummified RFTC logo from their “last show” in San Diego back in 2005 (they’ve, obviously, gotten back together since then, so the “last show” novelty has all but worn off… but the slipmat is killer!).

I passed up a Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde slipmat the other day. Clearly NOT a necessity, I’m contemplating going back to pick it up. A steady stream of rotating slipmats makes the grooves happy, I find. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself these days.

Listening in Depth

Listening in DepthListening in Depth, as apposed to listening in width, I suppose, is Columbia’s new (at the time) marketing gimmick to sell their “360 High Fidelity” phonographs. “Choose from more than 35 new Columbia phonographs in a wide price range and variety of cabinet designs and colors.” The phonograph featured here, Model 532, is available in mahogany, blonde mahogany, dirty-blonde mahogany, sandy-blonde mahogany, unnatural-blonde mahogany, ditsy-blonde mahogany, or walnut.

Announced in this ad-sert is Columbia sound laboratory’s own Directed Electromotive Power, or D.E.P. for short. This new feature “seals the sound chamber for tonal balance throughout the entire listening range.” (Seals it with a kiss, I suppose.)

Considering a phonograph upgrade to your own private domicile? “We invite you to inspect these portables, consoles and combinations at your Columbia Phonograph showroom today.” Update: All former Columbia Phonograph showrooms have, rather unfortunately, been converted into Jo-Ann Fabrics stores, with the exception of Wisconsin. Those have been transformed into Ben Franklin discount stores.

Magic Brain: A VERY Brief History

Magic BrainStarting around 1934, the term Magic Brain was given to high end, and often-expensive (especially for the time) radio receivers manufactured by RCA Victor. This new, futuristic, prewar technological improvement to the widely used radio receiver, allowed the heavy-pocketed user to 1) enjoy their favorite radio programs with new, higher fidelity tone performance, 2) tune in to more stations, 3) get exclusive access the RCA Victor’s “X” band, the same station aviators heard for up-to-the-minute, U.S. Government weather reports, and 4) the apparent alleviation of physical pressure when tuning into specific frequencies. (Citation)

Paralleling the start of the Second World War, RCA Victor released the Magic Brain RCA Victrola. This new, music listening wizard provided the same, groundbreaking, and industry redefining, features of the Magic Brain radio receiver, in a state-of-the-art radio-phonograph. The Magic Brain RCA Victrola offered a 180-degree shift in the way records were played, and how phonographs were manufactured. This model offered a tandem tone arm, which allowed the unit to play both sides of a record without having to flip it (there is something romantic about manually flipping a record, but there are certainly times when I’d love the ease and convenience of the Magic Brain). In addition to the tandem tone arm, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola allowed for up to two full hours of continuous, uninterrupted listening pleasure by the oversimplified ease of a single, pushed button. Mechanical noise was eliminated, the need to lift a lid was done away with, and the overall capacity was increased, housing up to 15, 10” records, or 12, 12” records.

Certainly an interactive jukebox for the family living room, this ingenious machine would unfortunately live an exceptionally short life. Due to the U.S. Government’s need for shellac, the material in 78rpm records as well as the main ingredient in U.S. made bombshells, it obtained nearly 70% of the nation’s supply, forcing two revolutionary music listening necessities. 1) With nearly no shellac to make new records, record companies began buying back out dated and/or unwanted records from the public (paying 2-3¢ per disc, equaling close to 500,000 lbs of shellac), to grind down in order to make new records. 2) With the short supply of shellac, and the high demand for consumable and obtainable mediums of portable music, the experimentation, and eventually the manufacturing of the vinyl record was introduced, and the rest is record collecting history. (Citation 1, citation 2)

With a new format, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola was rendered obsolete, and therefore was swiftly removed from production. A video of this monster in action can be found here.

Records Are Square, Man

SquareRecords ARE square, man! As well as being insanely difficult to photograph (unless of course you WANT the stupid reflection of that “deer in the headlights” expression haunting your photo for the rest of eternity), they’re completely inconvenient! Say you’re in a dead run from a meathead and his meathead girl because you accidentally mistook his 1989 Ford Ranger for yours and were perplexed when your key didn’t open the door. Now say you look behind you and Mr. Meathead is gaining ground. Well, if you had your iPod or other digital music device, you could pop in your ear buds, scroll to your favorite “get me the hell out of here” track and voilà! You’d instantly become a cheetah, and Mr. Meathead would be left wondering why he stupidly began chasing you in the first place. Now, imagine the exact same scenario, but instead of an iPod, you were carrying your record player. Can you picture it? HOW RIDICULOUS DO YOU LOOK RUNNING DOWN THE STREET CARRYING A BULKY TURNTABLE?!

PlatterStill not convinced? Really? The image of running down the middle of the street lugging a turntable while trying to drop the needle on your favorite track to escape almost certain physical confrontation isn’t enough for you to see the downside of records? Well, since you enjoyed the last scenario so much, here’s another. Say you’re trying to impress a girl. Or a guy, I don’t judge. Say it’s a Saturday night and things are going well. Say you get a wild idea and decide that Dean Martin’s Gentle On My Mind is that little edge that will propel you both over love’s mighty cliff. Now say (well, don’t actually “say” these things. I’m not being literal), you’d acquired Gentle On My Mind from Goodwill and you’d forgotten that track two’s, That Old Time Feelin’ skips like a bastard (presumably because the previous owner didn’t respect the gift of music). Uh-oh! The gal (or guy) whom, in your head, had just agreed to spend the rest of their life with you, just stormed out of the room in a fit of rage because such a romantic moment was rudely interrupted by a skipping record. Don’t let your imagined life partner storm out of the room in a fit of rage because such a romantic moment was rudely interrupted by a skipping record. Go digital. It’s what your ancestors would have wanted.

Wait… you mean the SHAPE square, and not the slang word for unhip? (Scratches head) Gotcha. Well, then this post was a complete waste of your time. My apologies. Carry on.

Totes, Bra

SW ToteI’m in the market for a portable turntable, so if anybody has any suggestions please let me know. For said future turntable will be this companion piece, a brother-in-arms at 45 caliber, if you will (or if you won’t, it’s totes up to you).

Perfect for kids of all ages, this Star Wars Record Tote (made in 1982) holds around 25 45s and is surprisingly durable. I keep my Read-Along records in this guy, but certainly plan on toting him around on picnics when I find my portable player.

Also, if you ever hear anyone pronounce “totally” as “totes,” smack them in the head. Smack them in the head and do it hard… hurt your hand hard, you dig?

The Perry V (Model DP-641)

I’ll admit, the majority of the antique record related gems I find are sheer accidents. This manual to a 196? Decca Portable Phonograph called, The Perry V, was found lodged in a random LP sleeve I recently picked up at my local, “Save the Kids Because They’re Dying” thrift store. Being someone who, on occasion, doesn’t mind kids, I decided to offer my contribution by purchasing a few albums. (By the way, I love kids, so don’t get crazy.)

Now, I’ve never owned The Perry V, nor have I ever known anyone else to own it, and since copies go for an outrageous $5 on ebay, I’ve decided to keep this little 40-year-old manual and offer its contents to you. That’s right, I’m saving you $5, NOT INCLUDING SHIPPING! You can thank me later, but please notice the subtle illustrations on pages 3 and 4. The man’s name is Perry. He comes from a long line of Perrys and he is here to help you “to prepare unit for operation.”

Decca Perry V - Page 1

Decca Perry V - Pages 2-3

Decca Perry V - Pages 4-5

Decca Perry V - Pages 6-7

Decca Perry V - Page 8