Back to black: the resurgence of vinyl

I was given a lovely old Dansette record player for my 30th birthday by my parents.

DSC_5146Unfortunately, I soon realised that the stylus needed replacing (as all of my records, including the new ones I had bought, were skipping terribly), and, having been unsuccessful in my attempt to source a suitable replacement at the time, I have not used this wonderful gift since then.

I did, however, recently manage to find a helpful store on eBay, where the proprietor kindly recommended a suitable replacement for me to purchase.  With some help from my dad, we managed to get the old thing working again, and I must say, the sound quality is superb considering its age.

As one of the last models of Dansette to be produced (with the Prince having been manufactured some time in 1969), its automatic mechanism works just perfectly.  I also took the opportunity to give the player a good polish and clean, and I am so pleased that it is now finally working again after all of this time, and looks fabulous!

DSC_5151The Dansette record player became the player of choice in the early 1950’s, and was produced by a London firm called J&A Margolin Ltd.  It was the first “portable” sound system, with many models having a carry-handle for the teen-bops of the time to take their beloved vinyl albums with them wherever they went.

We have, of course, come a long way since then, with our ultra sleek and truly portable iPods and other MP3 devices, however, the Dansette was designed specifically to be a shared device, with its built-in mono speaker enabling a large group of people to enjoy the music at any given time.

DSC_5150The Dansette Prince, along with many other models, has a BSR auto-changer, which allows several records to be stacked together to extend your listening time, and saved having someone on stand-by to continually change the records at a party.  The Prince was the original multi-media device, with a Garrard four speed turntable (78, 331/3, 45 and 16 rpm), for all of your vinyl needs!

DSC_5155However, the high cost of purchasing a Dansette eventually conspired its demise, with cheaper and more advanced HiFi equipment being introduced from Japan, utilising, in particular, the new cassette tape technology.

Despite selling over one million units since its inception in the early 1950s, the last Dansette was produced in December 1969, marking the end of a mid-century British icon.

DSC_5156However, there has been a mini-renaissance in the popularity of the record over the past couple of years, and even in my very modest collection of records, I have everything from Miles Davis through to Lady Gaga, with my two recent acquisitions being the soundtracks for the 1994 cult classic, Pulp Fiction, and the recent Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby!

This post-digital shift is an interesting one: with more and more popular artists releasing limited-edition vinyl versions of their albums, the resurgence is being driven by 16-25 year olds. The MP3 generation is discovering for itself that the record can offer a far superior and fuller sound than that offered by the compressed quality of their smart phones and iPods, as well as providing cover work and lyric sheets to be enjoyed and shared in a far more tangible way.

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