Thursday, April 19, 2007

Those pesky 78s

This week at Frank's I asked a Before/After Round question about when 78 rpm discs were "discontinued from mass production." I maintained that in the American market they were basically done in 1958-9, almost exactly 10 years after the introduction of the LP format. My target year that round was 1960, thus the answer I was looking for was "Before."

One member of the team that frequently changes their name but is basically
Lil Roy Screamed argued the answer, claiming that he was a 78 collector and had Elvis and other records on 78 that were released well into the 1960s. I appealed to a member of this week's winning team, Group W, who makes a living as a record dealer and owns tens of thousands of records, to sort out the issue. He agreed with me that the 78 was basically done in the US by 1959.

I let the scores of that round stand as is, and told the plaintiff that he if produces a 78 of a song that came out after 1960 I'll credit his team with 2 points this coming quiz at Frank's. Well, he likely will produce such an article and I'm more than happy to credit the team as I s
aid I would. Why do I now think he has late '60s 78s? I did some internet research.

There was a foreign market for 78s long after the market in the US died off in favor of the 33 1/3 and 45 market. Record players were far more expensive for people in many economies and you couldn't just dash out and buy a new one. Apparently in India this ex
tended as far as hand-cranked models in places where electricity was touch and go. Thus we have such apparent anachronisms as Indian 78s of Beatles songs into 1968. Some of these records were also favored by US servicemen who needed to adapt to the local standard. These are now very rare and in certain quarters are highly collectible.

Thus Lil Roy will get their 2 point boost next week as a gesture of goodwill on my part; I said "mass produced," I didn't specify US market or that sort of thing. The letter of my question was flawed in a technical sense but the spirit was correct. You simply won't see ma
ny American 78s for an American market after 1959 at the latest, I'll stand by that statement. Seeing as Group W scored 62 more points than Lil Roy this past week I'm not sure that this will affect standings much either.

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