Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I've been wanting you for days and days...

I'm gonna have to start grabbing records off the top of the stack no matter what turns up. The backlog is huge at this point and once I get to looking through the pile I get lost in playing tunes. Or alternatively, I choose a record, start digging around for info, and end up getting lost in the research. Either way, it means I don't post the record.

*note to self: take-your-damn-Adderall.

The record I'm offering up today used to hold the title for the dirtiest 45 I've ever had the misfortune to own. A friend of mine dug it out of the trash post-Katrina [this is the pretty side] and then decided he probably should have left it there. In short, he gave it to me instead of throwing it away.

Unless you have a collection yourself, you probably don't know how deep down dirty a 40 year old 45 can get. In the case of this record, so dirty that the needle wouldn't track the grooves. The tonearm basically slid right across the record when you tried to play it.

Since that time, I've run into my fair share of similarly afflicted 45's, and know how to deal with them, but at the time I wasn't sure my friend didn't have the correct impulse.

Anyway, after a whole bunch of scrubbing, I finally got the record to play reasonably well. It's still not a what I'd call a nice copy but given that the 45 is somewhat rare, I'm glad to have it.

Barbara George had a big hit with her very first single, "I Know", for A.F.O. records. It not only topped the R&B charts but also hit the pop charts in a major major way. Apparently that success had something to do with what happened next. Juggy Murray at Sue records, who was distributing the record nationally, decided to steal George. So, he declared that the guys at A.F.O. had broken their contract with him by playing on Lee Dorsey's record "Ya Ya", which was issued on Bobby Robinson's Fury label.

Now, I don't know if George had an actual contract with A.F.O., but if she did, she then broke it and signed up with Murray and the Sue label. Which probably seemed like a good idea at the time because Sue was a much bigger outfit. However, this was very bad news for the guys at A.F.O. Soon afterwards, they closed up shop and many of them left New Orleans for the greener pastures of Los Angeles.

Anyway, George never had another hit after "I Know" and was eventually dropped by Sue. I don't know exactly how many singles she had issued on her, but there aren't a lot. Maybe eight at most?

In my opinion, this is her best record. She recorded it with Eddie Bo. It's the only 45 by her issued on Seven B. I'm not sure when it was recorded, but I'll guess and say 1966[?].


  1. It scrubbed up pretty good.

    Love it, Love it Love it - Barbara and your words.

  2. So how DO you clean a really cruddy old record..?

    I usually just wash them in the kitchen sink w/ dish soap.

  3. Darcy-Thanks for the compliment, coming from you that means a lot.

    Jeff- 99.9% of the time I do almost exactly what you do, except I use distilled water because tap water can leave salts behind on the record. Check the soap you're using, most have some pretty nasty additives. On the other hand, the idea of "pure soap" is utter nonsense. Soap is made of fatty acids and alkali, there is no one single formula, it is not a naturally occurring substance.

    When drastic measures are required. I'll try running a record through a VPI machine several times, but that isn't always possible, nor does it always work to my satisfaction.

    Other than that, I occasionally use a method which goes counter to several myths very dear to the hearts of some record collectors. I say myths because they're largely based on bad science.

    I use the 20% isoprophyl alcohol/distilled water mixture sold in most pharmacies to wet-play the records. This can loosen up gunk that even a VPI machine will leave. Afterwards, I thoroughly clean the record again by hand. Every time I've done this I get a noticeable and lasting improvement in sound. On occasion I do this two or three times in a row, cleaning between each play.

    Alcohol doesn't hurt records. Most commercial cleaners are nothing but alcohol and water. Wet-playing doesn't hurt them either, as long as they are throughly cleaned up afterwards.

    If you don't clean away the sludge you've stirred up with the needle it can turn into something like dried mud in the grooves. This is how wet-playing got it's bad rep. Cleaning the stylus afterwards is very important too. In fact, if you don't get better sound after wet-playing it's almost always because the stylus needs to be cleaned more.

  4. Good old isopropyl - that's what I use, but my alcohol/water mix maybe closer to 50-50.