Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jack Benny's Golden Memories of Radio - (1966)

For decades I have had this album and been meaning to convert it to mp3 so that I can listen to it in the car. Somehow, I just never got around to it. This album is a six LP collection which was designed to be played on an old hi-fi with a spindle. For those too young to know what that is I’ll explain.

Each of the records are numbered from 1-6, but the sides are numbered in accordance with the they will be heard when you placed them; all six at one time; on the “spindle”, which gently dropped the next LP into place when the previous one had finished playing. I’ll bet you didn't know we had something like that back in the old days. When you finished with the first 6 sides, you simply flipped the whole stack over and finished the last 6. In this fashion you were able to listen to about 3 hours of music uninterrupted,

This collection was recorded on “virgin” vinyl, which was a grade superior to the material used for pop records put out by the commercial record companies. Those were “hit” recordings which might last a year or two in the minds of the public before being forgotten. So, the extra expense went into the making of “classical” records, and “jazz”, both of which were considered to be of more importance than popular music.

The reminiscing begins with George Burns and Gracie Allen, and continues with highlights from every show imaginable in radio history. Then the  action shifts to the radios emergence as a means of communicating the news, with the results of the first Presidential Election being broadcast, to the Hindenburg disaster and even Pearl Harbor, as evidence of the world’s growing reliance on the radio to keep them informed.

This album is a unique audio way of looking back on the history of the times in which the broadcasts were made. There is the abdication of King Edward, the Coronation of King George VI, and even the last broadcast from Corregidor, which was sent by a fellow from Brooklyn who lived near Flatbush Avenue. He says goodbye to his mother and wishes he had a Hershey bar just before the line goes dead. He survived the war and is even interviewed on the record about those last moments.

The world of sports is not ignored in either. There is the Dempsey-Tunney fight; or Schemling defeating Joe Louis; and then the return match, where the “Brown Bomber” wins the match and the hearts of his fellow countrymen. Jesse Owens at the Olympics and even Lou Gehrig’s famous goodbye are also included here.

From news to entertainment, this album delivers. There’s a lot of history, and hence education involved in listening to this collection of the Golden Years of Radio. One of the best things is that you can listen to it; or even download it; for free in about 7 minutes. I don’t know the who; or the why; behind this, but I am happy to share the link with you, in the hope that you will actually listen to this fantastic collection of radio history.

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