Thursday, May 08, 2014

Primitive Sound System at Iris Records for 45 Day - Saturday May 10th

Hello Y'all,
Three minutes.  That is all there should be.  Less is OK too but I can feel it when a 45 is longer than three minutes.  If it goes beyond three and a half it can feel like sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your turn.  Endless and anxiety filled.  A 7-inch spinning at forty-five can hold up to four minutes of music with little to no sound loss but at three minutes the grooves are comfortably spaced and able to contain and project with the force of fire hose open full throttle.  Whether it is as subtle as a ballad or smashing shit as the grooves leave the speakers of the best Punk can offer a forty-five is the perfect delivery system.  Most forty-fives only contain one amazing song and the “other-side” is not worthy of its better half.  The ones that bring it home on both sides are known as, “two-siders.”  And believe me, there are a lot of them.  Some of my favorites have the vocal on one side and the instrumental version on the other.  Better yet, two different songs and at least one an instrumental.  Sometimes I’ll hear people talk about a song and I have no idea what they are talking about because, despite owning it, I have only listened to the “other” side.  When I get a new 45 I give both sides a proper listen.  I’ll even listen to the “lesser” cut, as many times as I can bear just to make sure I am familiar but unfortunately as the years roll past that inferior cut is lost.  The 7-inch is truly my favorite recorded format. When done properly the sound quality is better and the mix can be hotter and louder.  Many record labels will take advantage of this by doing singles only mixes.

Physically the forty-five is perfect.  There are two basic styles, large hole and small hole. Both styles can be found at 33 1/3 and 45 rpm formats but obviously for it to be a forty-five it must spin at 45 rpms.  The 7-inch forty-five can easily be held in one hand.  You can either grip the edges, if your hands are big enough, like palming a basketball or, in the case of a large-hole-forty-five, you can grip it at the center - through the hole and the outer edge.  This looks cooler and allows for hand gestures while speaking to emphasize how great or how shitty a record is.  LPs seem purpose built for sitting and listening.  That is not to say I don’t bring LPs when I DJ, because I do.  Forty-fives can be cued on the fly and are more forgiving since there usually is not a track preceding or following each cut.  I have chrome forty-five spindles that I like to call, "speed loaders,” since they are pitched at the top and you can practically throw the forty-five at it and it will line itself up as it spins to the slip mat.

I have thousands of forty-fives and I love all of them.  Every time I pull one from a box and play it for someone I usually hear myself say, “Uh, that’s my favorite,” or, “It is impossible for me to pick a top-ten... but if I had to that would be on it… [long pause] …in _ _ _ _ _(insert genre classification here).”  I certainly have no issue with this.  I can care less that I have the longest “Top-Ten List,” ever created.  Ten?  Ten thousand is more like it.

Obviously the music is the most important reason for a record to be my favorite but determining factors can vary greatly following the music.  Sleeve and label design are pretty high on the list of determiners.  Have you ever seen the cover of XTC’s “Senses Working Overtime?”  It is amazing.  This is easily one of my favorite New Wave “Hit Records" but the cover also makes it art.  The front is a simple woodcut of a man’s face with his hands raised in the usual position one takes to play patty-cake.  Normally you would say this position is the universal symbol for, “You got me,” or “I give up,” but his face is not that of a guilty man.  He isn’t smiling in an ear-to-ear fashion but rather looks quite content. The paper stock is a very light gray and all the graphics and lettering are black and white.  The cover is cut and folded in such a way that the record is encased inside forcing you to unfold it to play the record.  From the first panel you open a photo of brightly colored birds with a painfully bright yellow border instantly strikes you.  This is repeated when you fold back the other panel with the hand and ear printed on it.  You can then fold back the mouth and eyes to reveal fish, flowers and fruit as brightly colored as the birds. "SEE - HEAR - SMELL - TOUCH - TASTE”  "1-2-3-4-5, sense working overtime.”  Simple, stunning and brilliant.

Punk Rock and New Wave definitely took the forty-five sleeve from simple images and text to new heights of creativity.  Prior to that many records had sleeves, and some were very creative, but for the most part records either came in a company sleeve or a simple sleeve with no text.  Company sleeves can be beautifully designed.  Some company logos are as impressive as the music contained in the grooves.  The early Epic sleeves combined with the bright yellow paper and black ink used to produce the label is mesmerizing.  In some case the labels had images of the band or even the record company owner.  James Brown included a photo of himself on the label of his Polydor releases.  The image changed as he went through style and fashion changes.  The forty-five format has not changed with styles or trends. It has remained perfect.

Recently Steve at Iris Records in Jersey City told me he was going to add a forty-fives only section.  Let’s just say my senses were working overtime with the thoughts of newly available records to flip through.  To celebrate this new section of his already great store he has asked some local DJs known for their extensive 7-inch collections to spin sets.  I am filling my box with favorites of the format, favorites of different genres and some I just can’t live without.  Come by, enjoy the music and pick up some forty-fives.

- pat.
Primitive Sound System


"Audio Visual Triumphs and Disasters"


Iris Records
114 Brunswick Street
Between 1st & 2nd Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

PH: (609) 468-0885

Hours: Thurs-Sun 12-8PM

THE SCHEDULE: Saturday May 10th

12 noon-1:15pm: Todd Abramson (of Maxwell’s fame)

1:15pm-2:30pm: Pat. James Longo (Primitive Sound System)

2:30pm-3:45pm: Joe McGasko (WFMU)

3:45pm-5:00pm: Pat Byrne (famed Lucky Seven DJ)

Pat. James Longo