Monday, January 16, 2012

WARNING STEREO RECORD!

This label was a bit more orange back in 1966 I expect. I scanned this off of the Earl 'Fatha' Hines LP "Life With Fatha" on VSP records (Verve VSP-35). There was a mono version and the sticker was intended to distinguish them. (The recordings were actually made back in 1960.)

But the sticker is interesting. For a jazzhead, stereo mattered more so than other audiophiles; or at least marketing types thought so. But for a brief window consumers had a teensy problem. The stereos from the 1940s and many from the 1950s were made for mono. Even if they'd been playing vinyl records (or polystyrene), they were often 78 rpm as well. the danger here wasn't that the cartridge and amplifier were mono, it was that the tracking weight on the tone arm was intended for those 78s. You could measure it in grams instead of milligrams. Older phonographs tracked in ounces! That kind of weight could peel the groove off a record like an orange rind.

So the label warning label was appropriate, if not exactly stated accurately.