Tonight – People’s History of Pop

The first episode of the People’s History of Pop is to be broadcast on BBC Four at 9pm tonight, as part of the year-long My Generation season.

Twiggy.jpg

Photo courtesy of BBC People’s History of Pop
Episode one sees Twiggy unearth pop treasures including a recording of John Lennon’s first-ever recorded performance with his band The Quarrymen, at a fete in Liverpool on the day he met Paul McCartney for the first time – which viewers will see Twiggy with David Hughes – Chair of EMI Group Archive Trust – listening to at the legendary Abbey Road studios.

Quarrymen tape recorder courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust.

Chinese Rhythm by Alfredo Campoli

Chinese Rhythm, 78rpm Decca shellac disc by Alfredo Campoli and his salon orchestra

Thank you to our friends from the EMI Archive Trust for sharing this great piece from their collection.   The EMI Archive Trust holds an extensive collection of 78 rpm shellac discs from accross the Gramophone Company, EMI and other privately donated collections.

This is Chinese rhythm by Alfredo Campoli and his salon orchestra F.6659.

The Trust and the Hound welcome any factual information you may have about the disc. So please feel free to get in touch.

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© EMI Group Archive Trust

Usage Rights
All usage to be cleared by EMI Group Archive Trust

 

 

HIDDEN NIPPER IN NEW HMV SITE

Our regular commentator David Hughes tipped us off on this one:

Ah, hidden messages in HTML code, the hidden tracks of the internet. Various tweeters who, for some reason, can’t visit a website without checking in on the source code while they’re there, have spotted a cute little hidden addition to the code of the revamped HMV website, that went online as the flagging entertainment retailer emerged from administration last week. If Nipper can live on in the HMTL world, maybe HMV can survive in the digital era? Maybe.

Anyone Who Had A Heart…..

Watch our friends from the Vinyl Factory in Hayes press a special limited edition record of Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had A Heart on “The One Show” Friday 16th March

Cilla Black and Paul McGann join Chris Evans and Alex Jones on the One Show sofa.

Our First Plug!

 

This is very exciting. We’ve been asked to spread the news about a new book. Our first plug! 

And we are very pleased to say that the book in question is rather lovely; it’s  a lavishly-illustrated, information-packed hardback book printed on high quality silk paper with colour digital photographs, comprehensive descriptions, technical details, original purchase prices, production dates & quantities, etc etc  all about….

   It’s authors, Brian Oakley and Christopher Proudfoot, are good friends of the EMI Archive. In fact Christopher, in a previous life at Christies, helped to value much of the wonderful collection held at Hayes. This book, privately published, measures an impressive 30cmx22cm and contains over 250 pages of colour photographs and text on – as it says on the cover – ‘the acoustic instruments sold by The Gramophone Company in Great Britain 1897 – 1960”. In addition to sourcing information from old catalogues and using their own collections, Brian and Christopher spent several days at Hayes last year painstakingly photographing vital machines that were unavailable elsewhere.

 The Chairman of the EMI Archive Trust, David Hughes, has written the forward and he urges anyone interested in the origins of the music industry, to buy a copy. You can purchase a copy directly from the authors by contacting them: Brian (brian.e.oakley@btinternet.com) or Christopher (cproudfoot@firenet.uk.net) direct.

 Here’s a sample page to whet the appetite: 

It’s beautifully designed and reminds us of Kehew & Ryan’s brilliant “Recording The Beatles”

In the rush to publish this plug and offer a flavour of its contents, we have taken the liberty of photographing the cover/inside page. We’d just like to confirm that the quality of the whole book is much higher than our pictures suggest.

George Martin documentary review

Thanks to the wonders of the BBC Iplayer I finally watched the Arena documentary Produced By George Martin last night. It was even better than I’d hoped for. If you are in the UK you can still just about catch it here and I’d advise you to ignore the Bank Holiday sunshine for an hour and a half to do so immediately. It went over many familiar tales that make up the George Martin story but also uncovered some things that were new to me:

1. The device of using son Giles to interview his father really worked, with Giles gently needling his father to reveal some of the steely drive that is not always apparent when you meet George (who is one of the most polite, generous and entertaining men on the planet).

Giles teased his father, in the way that only sons who get on very well with their Dad’s can do, into opening up slightly. He revealed glimpses into George’s competitive nature, his workaholism and his very obvious pique at the relatively tiny rewards that EMI offered him as a reward for the phenomenal success that he’d delivered with The Beatles and the other Parlophone acts. The hurt at John Lennon’s comments and behaviour during Let It Be was also palpable.

2. I thought I knew a lot about George’s pre-Beatles career but was delighted to find he’s recorded even more seminal recordings across a range of genres that I’d thought including The Archers theme tune. He really was a key player in inventing the modern recording industry.

3. The scenes where George talked to Paul McCartney were wonderful. The pair of them were incredibly affectionate, respectful and deferential to each other. Clearly old warriors with a lot of shared battle scars enjoying each others company as they reminisced. George remained encouraging to the younger man, gently praising Paul each time he remembered what was happening in the photos they were looking at. I wonder if there is anybody left on the planet who Paul can enjoy this sort of relationship with.  He certainly seemed to value it.

Just as this documentary focussed on George Martin’s contribution to musical history and the wonder-story that was The Beatles I’d like to see more about how Abbey Road Studios and its engineers – Ken Townsend, Ken Scott, Alan Parsons and the rest – helped George and The Beatles make their sounds. Is there anybody out there making a documentary on this? Its Abbey Road’s 80th Birthday in November – would be good timing for such a documenatry.

Produced By George Martin

George Martin:The thinker

There was a recent article by David Hepworth in The Word magazine where he concluded, after listening to the recently remastered Beatles albums, that the group’s recordings – as distinct from their myth – were even more extraordinarily good than is generally recognised. The quality exceeded the (ongoing) hype. Whilst undoubtedly genius was in Abbey Road’s Studio 2 during those six intense Beatle-tastic years, it was not just the song-writers and performers who were channelling it. Revered producer George Martin’s fingers are all over the finished recordings and it’s true to say that the records could not have been made in the same way without him.

There is another chance to see into the world of George Martin when a BBC Arena documentary “Produced By George Martin” is aired on BBC2 on Bank Holiday Monday April 25th at 9pm.

As often seems to be the case when genius is flooding through a situation; much perspiration is also required to deliver on that genius. Like many a veteran of the sixties, the decade passed in a blur for George Martin but his blur was a result of supremely concentrated effort. “My workload was enormous and I had such little time,” he recalls in the documentary.

You can read a nice piece from Jon Savage in the Guardian about the new George Martin documentary here.

Hi Fi Boom Box 1954

 

You have got to love Shorpy’s Vintage Photograph’s. Its a simple but effective formula for a website. They publish one interesting historical picture per day in high resolution with an explanation of the photo’s origin and if you like the photo you can buy a print of it. As they say on their banner, there is “always something interesting” to look at. This is a vision of the hifi future taken in 1954. You can read more about it here. Love that valve amp, daddio!

BBC Archive Hour – Walls Of Sound

I happened to put the radio on for five minutes yesterday afternoon and came across this extraordinary documentary on Radio 4. I would heavily recommend it to anybody interested in the history of recorded sound. Its still available on the BBC Iplayer here until part way through Saturday 2nd April.

This is how the BBC described the programme:

When Nelson Mandela was tried 1964 he famously said, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve, but, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Without the British Library’s sound conservation work we would never have heard this. The trial was recorded using a Dictabelt system. The recordings soon became unplayable. The Dictabelts were brought to the British Library where digital transfers were made, allowing us to hear what Mandela said, and how.

In 1924, in Paris, James Joyce was recorded reading from ‘Ulysses’ and the British Library’s disc is as highly prized as its Blake, Hardy and Lawrence manuscripts. Alas, we’ll never hear how they read their work.

These are just two of recordings of immense importance that without the work of the Sound Conservation Centre would be lost. And what a loss that would be. The British Library has invested millions in the Centre and appointed its first ever Curator of Radio. Audio is being accorded the conservation effort usually devoted manuscripts and old masters. All this, the radio historian Sean Street argues in this programme, reflects a fundamental change in attitude to sound itself.

In a massive undertaking our sound archives are being saved, restored, digitised, catalogued and opened to all. Street observes all this and talks to curators, technicians and users. Throughout we hear amazing recordings from the libraries walls of sound that, until this change in thinking about sound, few knew about, and fewer could listen to. We listen as these recordings find their rightful place in the documentary heritage of the nation.