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78s were totally discontinued in the States by 1960, but not so in other parts of the world. Unbelievably, many Beatles 78s were released in the Philippines and India from 1963-1965, mainly for juke box plays. There were also a few titles released in South America in Columbia and Argentina. The site Cool78s features all known issues, including 17 from the Philippines and 24 from India. Beatles collectors pay from $500 - $1,200 each for these sides depending on condition and scarcity. Tell your Pilipino and Indian friends to check with their music loving relatives to see if they have a goldmine stashed away in their attic.
One reaction to the digitization of our world has been the resurgence of vinyl and record collecting. People say it’s because a record feels real and sounds better than its CD or MP3 counterpart. Also dropping a needle on a turntable feels like a throwback to simpler times. Some people are taking it even further.
Some collectors are going to the roots and discovering 78s. BTW, these aren’t vinyls; they’re actually made out of a shellac mixture and are pretty fragile compared to vinyl. 78s have a broader tonal spectrum of 400hz to 10,000hz and they sound noticeably better than a 45, LP, CD, or MP3. There’s more music in their grooves!
However, there are some prerequisites for collecting 78s. First you need a turntable that can play them. A good portable ‘50s electric tube record player that can be bought at a garage sale for $50 - $100 will suffice. Purists will get an old wind up Victrola from the ‘20s or ‘30s that’s a real piece of furniture. Some prefer the cheap new designer players. They’ll work, but only until you get something better. The next step is to get a 78 needle if needed and to get your player in working order. Finally, you need to appreciate some of the music from before 1956, because there ain’t no Madonna 78s.
What if there was a band that could play great rock & roll, cool R&B, plus hot Mexican and Chicano grooves? On top of that, what if this band could also synthesize those influences into their own wonderful songs without losing any of the flavor or intensity of the various original genres?
Luckily for us, Los Lobos can do all this and more. Their body of recorded work is staggering in its breadth, beauty, and rhythmic groove. They are truly a national treasure and define the term “Americana band.”
David Hidalgo on lead guitar, vocals, and assorted other instruments gives the band a lot of its diversity and musical muscle. Steve Berlin on sax and keyboards is the newcomer in the band, having joined in 1983! Cesar Rosas is also an excellent lead guitar man and a soulful singer. Louie Perez writes much of the material, used to be the drummer, and now plays rhythm and sings. Last but certainly not least, Conrad Lozano always plays strong solid bass lines.
Other bands have successfully combined styles and, in some cases, created a whole new genre. However, I don’t think there’s ever been such an eclectic band as Los Lobos. As you can hear below, they cover a lot of bases.
When Jimi Hendrix joked that “you’ll never hear surf music again,” in his song “Third Stone from the Sun,” he was only four years removed from the heyday of the surf music craze. However in 1967, with psychedelic music flourishing in the midst of the hippie movement, surf music seemed incredibly square and white, like ancient history.
Surf music started out as reverb-drenched instrumental garage music by the likes of Dick Dale and The Bel-Aires and was centered in Southern California. In 1961, The Beach Boys recorded the song “Surfin’,” and a genre was born. By 1964, car themes were also included.
Living in California, there’s still an abundance of surf related vinyl to be found in your favorite record haunts. At Amoeba, there’s also many vinyl reissues of classic albums, such as the Sundazed Dick Dale series. And we recently enjoyed having Brian Wilson sign his Smile reissue at the S.F. and Hollywood stores.
The VinylBeat expands its focus this week to present a fun interview with Amoeba’s own Joel Gion, tambourine man with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Joel hips us to the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of tambourines as he shares his collection with us. Enjoy.