Monday, June 19, 2006

The sins of ones youth

I first started collecting records back in 1968, and by records I mean real honest to goodness 7 inch singles. I'd been listening to the radio for years by then of course, first via Mum's old Astor Mickey[^] radio then via my own crystal set and, later, a transistor radio. I've written about those times before.

The kind of music I listened to then was whatever the radio played. Early Beatles (I hated them), Elvis Presley (not much impressed) and a whole range of bands from 1964 to 1967 or thereabouts that I no longer much remember. Certainly they weren't all that memorable for me save perhaps The Small Faces[^] and The Turtles. In an age before the internet and when a tape recorder or a record player cost a small fortune to say nothing of the cost of content one pretty much went with what was broadcast 'for free' over the air.

Not a lot has changed since then :-)

My very first record player was aquired in early 1967 from the local tip (rubbish dump). An old Garrard[^] turntable (the link doesn't show the one I had but I can't find one that does so live with it).

The speed governor had failed which I assume is why it was scrapped; I spent hours adjusting the tension on the spring that held a rubber wheel betwixt the motor and the turntable to get it to play at approximately the right speed. And when I say hours I don't mean a one off; every few minutes the tension would change and the speed would rise or fall. Squeeze or stretch the spring to get the speed back to somewhat normal. I don't say that I needed chewing gum to keep it together but it sure feels like it when I remember back to those times.

That turntable was so old that it only had the one speed; 78. Perhaps that also had something to do with its being scrapped!

And what did I listen to on this temperamental turntable? I had no singles or albums but the lady next door came to my rescue, giving me an old 78 she had. I have no recollection of who the artist was; all I remember is that it was something genteel from the 1930's involving a celeste.

Some thieving and swapping and I acquired another Garrard turntable; this one could do 16, 33, 45 and 78 and the swap, at the time, seemed to be just slightly less expensive than an arm and a leg. But I was the envy of Richard and Peter, friends who hadn't managed to cut any such deal. Peer envy made it all worthwhile!

So now I had a turntable that consistently span at the right speed, a 5 Watt mono amplifier, a speaker that made up in size for it's other shortcomings and nothing to play on the damn thing!

Bubblegum[^] came to the rescue. I can't help thinking that the second link below the title on that page 'Your guide to Oldies Music' is pushing it a bit! :-)

I note that, having researched it a bit this week past, it was quite the surprise to learn that it was totally manufactured. At the time and ever since I've always believed that there really were bands such as 'The Archies'.

Perhaps I'm more gullible than I ever believed!

Whatever. The Lemon Pipers[^] came along and struck a chord! (Pun intended). Green Tambourine seemed, back then, the height of musical sophistication.

So you'd imagine, wouldn't you, that the first single I ever bought was something by the Lemon Pipers. Not so! Nope, my first ever single was 'White Room' by Cream[^].

Green Tambourine was my second single but it wasn't the Lemon Pipers version; nope, it was a cover. (Uh huh, go figure). Purchasing that first single in 1968 had strained my finances somewhat so when Mum noted that Allans[^] had a sale of singles I had to be there! And there were recently familiar titles; Lemon Piper songs by a band called the Cincinati Underground[^]. I note that that link says they never recorded any of their music so it may well be the wrong link; I'm sure I bought singles in 1968 of a band with that name doing covers of Lemon Pipers songs.

A year later, new paper round secured, I had the wherewithal to purchase their first album, Green Tambourine. Fortunate indeed, for me, that they were released on the Astor budget label at $1.99. The mainstream albums of the time, such as The Beatles, were $5.95 each. Half a year later out came their second album, Jungle Marmalade which contained one track, all of 12 minutes in length, that so impressed me that I reckon I must have played it a hundred times that first week. Drove my parents mad!

In 1969 there were rumours of a third album that never came to fruition. I remember an evening toward the end of 1969 when my parents were arguing about me; Mum was defending my enthusiasm for music that didn't appeal to Misery Guts. She said 'he's swiped and stolen and sweated to get that record player.' She probably said more that I no longer remember but I recall understanding her point. Everytime I feel like protesting rap I just have to remind myself that I was once 15.

I bought a CD in 2000 that combined the two albums The Lemon Pipers released back in 1968. Well worth the ten bucks for the music alone let alone the ramble down memory lane!

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