Friday, April 03, 2009

Singles Only?

To respond to the challenge of Columbia’s ‘long-player’, the LP or 12 inch record that played at 33 1/3 rpm, RCA decided to take an alternative approach. They concentrated their research and development efforts on an alternative to the 78-rpm ‘single’. RCA decided on the 45 rpm for their ‘singles’ by taking 78 and subtracting 33 leaving them with 45. When the 45 rpm launched 60 years ago this week a key player in RCA's plan was a blues singer named Arthur Crudup. The first 45-rpm in Victor’s R&B series was ‘That’s All Right’ recorded in September 1946 having already been released on 78rpm. Some dynamic marketing executive had the idea of colour coding the RCA releases. ‘That’s All Right’ came out on orange vinyl (although they called it cerise), popular music on blue, country records, rather appropriately, were green. While ‘That’s All Right’ did get some airplay on Black radio stations, it again failed to chart. But for a certain Mr. Elvis Presley ‘That’s All Right’ would have been a footnote in recording history. Elvis covered the song in 1954 at Sun Studios with Scotty Moore and Bill Black and while it was nothing more than a local hit it put Elvis on the map. Among the other releases was Eddy Arnold's 'Texarkana Baby." The B-side was "Boquet of Roses," both recorded in Nashville. The single was released on bright green vinyl.

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