The 45 Turns 60!


My kids have never known the pleasure of getting music from a 45-rpm single.  When many of us were young, we usually heard music two ways: on the radio or off a 7-inch vinyl record.  That was the 45: the gateway drug to long-playing albums (LPs).  People gave me 45s by the bushelful when I was a kid but the very first single I ever bought was in 1967: “Good Vibrations,” by the Beach Boys.  With its beautiful (then; today, nauseating) colorful swirl, it was the ultimate summer song.  And I played it until the grooves would no longer give music, only raunchy, scratchy static.

The 45-rpm record was born in 1949, created by RCA Victor as competition for the long-playing album that Columbia Records invented.  “Texarkana Baby,” by Eddy Arnold, was the first 45 and god knows what was the last.  Actually they still put ’em out although mostly as novelty items; check your friendly neighborhood record store – don’t tell me you don’t know what those are.

Perhaps the most valuable 45 is Elvis Presley’s first single sun223on Sun Records, “That’s All Right,” from 1954.  I would think the least valuable 45 single collectible is that goddamned “I Think I Love You” Partridge Family picture sleeve record – I have one too, we ALL have one!

Rhino Records is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 45 by making a bunch of tracks available (through iTunes) with their original cover art and b-sides.  (For you kiddies, you flip a single over and there’s another song, called a b-side.)  Among the 30 selections available are “Love Shack” by the B-52s, “Bang A Gong” by T. Rex, and 1960s classics from Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, the Monkees and Iron Butterfly.  You get the song and the b-side for $1.49, which is about twice what I paid for my “Good Vibrations” single, but whatever.

The 45 is a piece of pop culture history that’s gone for good.  Already dead for a couple of generations now, it’s one of those things that you can’t help but get kind of nostalgic about.  At least until you realize that now you sound like your grandpa.

Rhino Records Digital 45 website (see a complete list)

MP3: “Good Vibrations” (45 single version) by the Beach Boys

One Response to “The 45 Turns 60!”

  1. dkpresents Says:

    This guy digs up some amazing rare 45s:

    A must for any 45 fan…

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