Old 78s, Top of the Pops and skifflebands were all music to my ears

8 September 2017 8:06AM

Did you – if you are of the appropriate age – watch Top of the Pops?

The great majority of the Great British viewing public did, more years ago than I care to remember!

I know I did and I wouldn’t mind betting that, at the appointed hour (Thursday at 7.35pm), you would also be sat in front of your telly.

How else were we to keep up with what pop music was “in” at the time?

We could have caught up with the pop world by listening in to Radio Luxembourg.

I don’t know if it was just me, but I didn’t care too much for just listening to the music on this radio station.

I much preferred watching the acts performing live on television.

And, of course, we had the weekly contribution from Pan’s People.

I watch and listen to the media nowadays, as most of us do.

But I haven’t a clue who half the performers are.

Back in the days of TOTP, which was watched by almost everybody, we all knew who was who, what was “in” and whether we wanted to pop down to one of the local record shops to buy a copy.

Did you own a Dansette?

Unless you had one of these Victorian contraptions passed down from your grandparents, I bet you owned one.

If you don’t know what a Dansette is, I suggest you ask your
parents or even your grandparents.

I seem to remember that most intending record purchasers were still at school.

Saturday morning was the time to charge down to the record shop to spend your cash.

If you were lucky you could collar one of the listening booths.

But that was only if you could put up with the disgruntled and envious stares from those other shop users, all eager to get an earful of the music of their choice.

I never bought more than one record at a time.

I can’t quite remember how much each record cost and initially these would have been 78s, but they weren’t cheap.

And one thing I did discover about the old 78s was that you could wear them out.

A school friend did just that – he’d become so obsessed with listening to one of Lonnie Donegan’s early hit records that he completely wore it out.

He was down to the shop the next week for another copy and I suspect he spent less time with this Rock Island Line.

Donegan had his skiffle group.

Skiffle – doesn’t that just take you back?

I used to have a load of skiffle records – all 78s.

I bought them, when that format ended, for sixpence a time.

The shop was having a clearout at the time.

So what happened to these small record shops? I know that nowadays you can pop into one of today’s large stores – but it’s not the same!

I still buy recordings these days – but only in CD format.

And I buy most of them in charity shops sited in the various towns of West Cumbria.

I’d love to buy some the old LPs and 78s on offer, but to do so would be pointless because I don’t have anything to play them on.

The Dansette is long gone.

This is probably a good thing as it prevents me from buying more worthy recordings which, to be honest, I am never likely to listen to.

How many of you have recordings on CDs and LPs, which you have never listened to?

You are, of course, going to listen to them – some day – perhaps.

I do catch up with some of the old Top of the Pops on the television.

I think sometimes that I really shouldn’t, as, especially with the 1980s onwards, I do find myself wondering if I did really enjoy much of it at the time. I can remember the first LP I bought all those years ago.

It was Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues.

What was the first record you bought and have you still got it?

Do you still listen to it?

From my first record purchase, you might well realise that I am a long time jazz enthusiast.

This might explain why I took special notice of an old press cutting from the West Cumberland News of July 1957.

It advertised the appearance at the Palace Ballroom, Maryport of Mick Mulligan and his band, the Gateway Jazz Band and George Melly.

Mick Potts was on the bill, with his skiffle group.

I’ve always known that he had his own jazz band – but I never knew he was an exponent of skiffle.

But then I suppose it was fashionable at the time.

So were you ever a member of a local skiffle group back then?

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