Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Invention of the LP

The long-playing microgroove 33-1/3 rpm phonograph disc, the standard for incorporating multiple or lengthy recorded works on a single disc for two generations, was developed in 1945 by German-Hungarian engineer Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark. The LP was introduced by Columbia's future president, Goddard Lieberson, in 1948. Goldmark's vinyl long-playing records remained the standard in the music industry until the compact disc replaced vinyl in the late 1980s.

For the compact disc-age person, the LP was an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format, characterized by a speed of  33 1/3 rpm, a 12 or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification.

At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive shellac compound, employed a much larger groove, and played at approximately 78 rpm, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch diameter record to less than five minutes per side. The new product was a fine-grooved disc made of vinyl. Originally 23 minutes per side, it was later increased by several minutes.

Although the LP was suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more pop music recordings to be put on a single disc. Previously, such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted "record album" consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word "album" persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.

Today, technology is at an all-time high. In so many ways, sound technology is great and the way we listen to music is great. Now, there is digital audio tape (DAT), digital audio broadcasting, HD Radio tuners, which can be connected together with fibre optic TOSLINK cables, universal serial bus (USB) ports (including one to play digital audio files), or the awesome technology known as Wi-Fi, Blu-Ray and Bluetooth. Another modern component is the music server consisting of one or more computer hard drives that hold music in the form of computer files where the music is stored in an audio file. The computer playback of recorded audio can serve as an audiophile-quality source for a hi-fi system.

Some people who were around during the vinyl era appreciate where sound technology has gone. Some of us also moss the vinyl days.

Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark was born in Budapest on December 2, 1906. He died on December 7, 1977 at Port Chester, New York.

Disc Jockey Fired For Playing Elvis Presley's White Christmas

Disc Jockey Al Priddy of radio station KEX in Portland was fired on this day in 1957 after playing Elvis Presley's version of 'White Christmas.' The station management said, 'it's not in the spirit we associate with Christmas.'

The Bing Crosby holiday perennial song, which had appeared every year on the Billboard charts since 1942, became the center of controversy upon "Elvis' Christmas Album's" release, with calls by the song's composer Irving Berlin to have the song, and the entire album, banned from radio airplay. After hearing Presley's version of his song, which Berlin saw as a "profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard," he ordered his staff in New York to telephone radio stations across the United States, demanding the song be discontinued from radio play. Most stations ignored Berlin's request.

The controversy was fueled by Elvis' performance of the song in a style mirroring the version by Clyde McPhatter's group, The Drifters, which had been a Top 10 hit on the R&B singles chart in 1954 and 1955. Unlike Elvis' recording, however, their version attracted virtually no adverse reaction, and certainly no reported opposition from Irving Berlin. Part of the reason that The Drifters' version of "White Christmas" was less controversial was because that version was played only on black radio stations.

In reality though, Berlin looked at Elvis' version of his song as a kind of sacrilege, a reaction born out of a personal tragedy that was the heart and soul of the song. In Berlin's eyes, there was good reason "White Christmas" was meant to be performed very melancholy, bluesy if you will, the way Crosby sang it, and not in the typical festive Christmas tune formula.

Irving Berlin’s 3-week-old son, Irving Berlin Jr., died on Christmas Day in 1928, and every Christmas after, he and his wife would visit their baby boy’s grave. Perhaps, Berlin's writing of the song, which in all honesty echoes many peoples' feelings over the holiday season, was his deep response to his feelings about the death of his son.

As Jody Rosen, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, said, "it’s pretty poignant and special that a song born out of such grief and loss would become one of the world’s all-time best-selling and most widely recorded songs ever– of all genres, not just holiday songs."

At the end of the day, you have to imagine that Berlin was comforted in some measure by the royalty payments Elvis' version sent his way. According to the most recent record album certifications, the holiday album title that has shipped the most copies in the United States is "Elvis' Christmas Album," which is certified by the RIAA for shipment of 16 million copies in the U.S. (3 million copies of the original 1957 release on RCA Victor Records, plus 10 million copies of a "budget" edition first released by RCA Camden in 1970 and then by Pickwick Records in 1975, and 3 million of a RCA reissue titled "It's Christmas Time," released in 1985.

For the record, Elvis Presley did reach out and extend an olive branch to Irving Berlin, which was rejected. Elvis sent an autographed photo to Berlin as a sort of peace offering– “To Mr. Irving Berlin with respect and admiration, Sincerely Elvis Presley.” 

The Invention of the LP

The long-playing microgroove 33-1/3 rpm phonograph disc, the standard for incorporating multiple or lengthy recorded works on a single dis...