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33, 45 or 78 rpm?

THE RETRO spotting continues!

During a stroll into town last week, my wife clocked the ‘Back to the Future’ DVD trilogy in a shop window. Twelve months earlier I confessed that I’d never watched any of the Back to the Future films. After receiving a look of ‘Have you been living on another planet?’ she vowed to introduce me to the time travelling movies.

As we stepped into the shop I realised that not only DVD’s were on sale, but Vinyl records too … lots and lots of them! I shuffled through the layers of vinyl … many of them brought  back memories of flipping tunes on the turntable during my early years.



The years rolled back even further when I noticed the vast collection of 7 inch vinyl! Now this is real retro! My dad had quite a collection of 7 inch records which he played on the automatic record player. Once on the tune started pumping out, he’d kick back and bob his head whilst downing White Rum in true Jamaican style.




I explained to my wife that some of the 7 inch records had to have an adapter fitted in order for them to play on the turntable (I think she understood).

The next retro lesson was about the workings of the automatic turntables. I explained how you had to load the record at the top of a pole. Then the speed of the record needs to be selected  – 45, 33 or 78rpm. You’d then hit the start switch and the turntable would spin, the record would drop down the pole into position, the needle flies through the air and lands at the start of the record and after the initial crackle the tune pumps out the speakers.

I was clear that she did not quite understand what I meant but luckily the owner of the shop, Dave, came to my rescue. ‘I have something that will interest you‘ and less than a minute later he revealed a retro automatic record player!

I asked if it was still working. ‘Yeah … just takes a bit of time to warm up‘. Two minutes later a record was spinning around of the turntable. More importantly my wife actually witnessed record player automatically loading the vinyl (always good to have proof or else she’d really think I’d lived on another planet).




The record played. I watched in awe as memories of the record player in our house in London came flooding back (1974 ish – real retro)

I don’t ever remember playing a record at 78‘.

Nah … most records play at either 45 or 33 … some of the records in the 50s played at 78‘.


Short and to the point.

45rpm … mmm. These were mainly for the 7 inch records. I recall that many of the 7 inch records (especially the reggae tunes cut in Kingston, Jamaica) had the main track on the ‘A’ side and the ‘B’ side contained the version … the track without the vocals.

33rpm … LP (Long Play) – that’s the albums or 12 inch tracks – the slow players – the big records usually containing a number of tracks. Back in the day, I had the record ‘Space Invaders’ by Yellow Magic – the record was actually Yellow! (geeky fact only appreciated by retro geeks living in the past).

78rpm … nothing … I don’t ever recall having any 78s. 78s were useful if you wanted to play a cryptic game of ‘Name that Tune’ or had some vinyl from the 50s I guess.

So another week down and the tank is full again after taking in more retro fumes. Check out the photos. Do you remember? Do they jerk your memory back to the days when you dashed into the record shop to pick up the latest baddest tune? If so then its clear that you know the difference between your 78s, 45s and 33s.







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