For some reason, I always get into a Record Collector Nostalgia mode around the beginning of December.
I started working at Licorice Pizza Records in July, 1976 – approx. 2 days before the USA Bi-centennial. Disco / dance music was popular, but it interested neither myself or my friends much. 12” were a real curiosity. I think the first one I kept was John Miles “Slow Down” on London. There was always the question: “Where do we put these?”, as it was too early for there to be enough of them to fill a bin. By 1978 they were a bit more common – and the 12” single fully arrive by 1980 or so.
There was a time when if I got a 12” single of something, I did not necessarily try to find a 7” of it. These days, I am happy to have one or the other, or both – particularly with groups like Simple Minds. There are even instances where the 7” has tracks not on the 12”, and certainly vice-versa.
After “Saturday Night Fever” got to be so big, even a rock-n-roll record store had to have disco 12” singles. I also remember 12” single stores in Hollywood – Prime Cuts, for instance. I always liked 12” stores – they never knew what to do with the material I liked – Kraftwerk, anything from England etc. I found my Damned “Eddie & The Hot Rods” cover at a disco store, for $1. I still have my promo-only US Kraftwerk 12” singles.
The most preferable ones were British 12” singles that had covers, inner sleeves and spines. It took a few years for Japanese 12” singles to show up, but they eventually did – I treasure my Sade 12” singles from Japan – they sound good, too.
The poor cousin of the 12” single is, of course, the 10” single. They just get lost, when you put them in the A-Z bin. There are some great ones – notably The Method Actors “Rhythms Of You” (it finally made it to CD recently). I love to collect these, and I have eBay’d some nice Kirsty MacColl ones.
Much later, I came to value 12” singles because I understood that until much more recently, not many 12” mixes of things ever made it to LP or CD – with artists like Grace Jones. It’s fun to try and guess how many BPM something is – I saw a watch in a store recently that determines this arcane fact. Is this 45 or 33 1/3? A fade or cold ending?
When re-buying my vinyl collection, I always had good luck in San Francisco finding Scritti Politti 12” singles – and other similar material. Yet there are some that you just never see at all – like any Rupert Hine ones (Damn it, I’ve got Thinkman 12” singles, but I cannot lay my hands on any Rupert Hine solo ones).
So, an old memory: “Where do we put these 12” singles?” Who will buy them? By “Saturday Night Fever”, the answer was obvious: lots of people. Denizens of the dancefloor, Gangsters of the Groove, Boogie Oogie Oogie!