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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The 16 RPM Dance Party Album

Some of you old enough to remember vinyl's heyday are also old enough to remember that 16 RPM speed on that 4 speed automatic record changer in your mom's console stereo and ask "What's that for?"

Well, first 16 RPM was originally invented for special automobile record changers and AM radio fidelity monaural 7" discs that gave an album's worth of music on each side. A slow speed for where there's lots of vibration, but has the benefit of not skipping the tone arm around as badly. Plus you didn't have to change the music so often. Early talking books for the blind were 16 RPM (later cut down to 8 RPM)

.....and even Jimmy Swaggart recorded his sermon albums at 16 RPM.

It was the "misc." speed.

There were also some jazz albums released by Prestige Records at 16 RPM in the 1950s
But that didn't keep Pye Record's South Africa division from daring to be different. I have seen this album before and at 16 RPM, it gave you an entire album's worth of listening on each side (imagine two whole K-Tel albums on one record. There were 40 songs on the record and each side played nearly an hour.)  And anyone who dances like an AT-AT won't be making the needle skip all over the place.

Only problem was 16 RPM for the most part doesn't sound very good (This record however is the best sounding 16 RPM I've EVER heard.) And if was an adopted speed, record companies would have to put out more music than what came in, which was the bottom line. By the '70s, 16 RPM fell out of favour on new turntables as 78 RPM did by 1980.

And that's why there was 16 RPM......

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