Records: those beautiful discs of aural pleasure. Attainable in small, medium or large sizes; warm-sounding, available in an array of colours and styles, they look good in your hand and even better spinning on a turntable.
We love 'em, you love 'em. That's why you're here. But what if I were to tell you that whatever you think you know about records - and if you're here then I'm sure you already know a lot - I can guarantee you that there are still some things that you categorically DO NOT know. You're probably finding it hard to believe. Well I'm sorry about that, but the truth is you're just a sweet summer child... and now it's time to dip your toe into adulthood with some mind-altering education. The facts presented here are not for those who have their minds closed off to new information, but are for those of you who want to expand your knowledge.
So for those of you travelling along the path of Understanding, I present to you:
10 FACTS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT RECORDS
1. RECORDS HAVE BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN YOU THINK
Unbeknownst to most people but knownst to us members of the vinyl science community, vinyl is not something that was new to the 20th century. In fact, the oldest record is believed to be an Egyptian 12" from 49 BC, discovered in a stone vinyl storage case in the Abu Simbel Temples. Released on the Ptolemaic Tunes label, the single features two Cleopatra & the Hieroglyphics songs: "Rub My Sphinx (Extended)" on the A side and "He's My Giza" on the flip. Not many people have actually listened to the record but apparently it's shit.
2. THE TERM "RECORDS" WAS COINED IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY
But other names were also considered, including:
- Musical pancakes
- Groove saucers
- Circle crunchies
- Shellactical gramophone discus treats
A brown shellac record - or shellactical gramophone discus treat - from 1907.
3. IN 1982, A MAN FROM TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA, ATE FIFTY EIGHT 7" RECORDS IN ORDER TO HOLD THE WORLD RECORD FOR MOST NUMBER OF 7" VINYL EATEN
4. RECORDS ARE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE OVER ONE HUNDRED TIMES
Here are some clear, 100% factually accurate examples:
When I thought, "My record skips," Your steadfast love, and quick exchange service, O LORD, helped me up.
Do not conform to the pattern of the grooves, but be transfixed by the swirling of the patterned colour variant.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your records flat. Piss him off though and he'll warp your records right up.*
*see our blog piece "WARPED VINYL PROOF THAT GOD HATES YOU" for more on this.
"He will wipe away every hair from their surface, and pops shall be no more, neither shall there be greasy fingerprints, crackling, nor skipping anymore, for the former things have passed away." And He who has placed the record on the platter said, "Behold, I am making all things sound new."
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—it's probably been pressed on 180g wax.
A rare photo of God judging people who don't wipe their records with an anti-static cloth before playing them
5. A FLEXIDISC IS BASICALLY A RECORD THAT HASN'T HAD ANY SILDENAFIL ADDED IN THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
That's why they're not hard.
6. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW HOW MANY RECORDS THERE ARE IN THE WORLD EXACTLY
It's difficult to believe but unfortunately it's quite true: there are so many records out there today that the dark cabal who were supposed to monitor such things just completely lost count. It is said though that if you were to lay out every record ever pressed in a straight line, you would be unlikely to have sex during the time it would take you to do so.
7. VINYL WILL START MELTING AT 140°F
This is why oven units - even the expensive ones - do not come with a built-in record player, although it was tried in the 1950s when the Chambers Corporation designed the uranium-powered CB-52 Fan Belt model. "Play your tunes while you steam your prunes!" was the intended slogan. Everyone involved in the production process lost their hair and so the project was shut down.
8. IF YOU HOLD A RECORD IN ONE HAND AND STICK A WET FORK IN A TOASTER WITH THE OTHER, YOU MAY DIE
It will certainly shock you.
9. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SINGLE OF ALL TIME, ONCE ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION, IS RICK ASTLEY'S "NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP"
Interestingly enough, the original title of the song was "Never Gonna Give You 7Up," and it was based on his then partner's dislike of anything lime flavoured. Producer team Stock Aitken Waterman decided to change the lyrics the day before Astley was due to attend the recording studio and the legendary track was born. The 7" single version alone sold over 24,000,000,000 copies -- its extreme popularity in 1987 was chiefly the reason for the mass PVC shortage towards the end of the decade, directly leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the creation of the Internet Worm computer virus and Carlos Salinas de Gortari becoming President of Mexico.
The song was so popular upon its release that there are now around three copies of the single for every person on Earth.
10. MODERN DAY PICTURE DISCS WERE DEVELOPED IN AREA 51
Picture discs made a brief appearance in the very early 20th century, but they looked very different to the ones we have today. As most people know, picture discs look gorgeous but generally sound terrible, but not many people know that the technology to create the modern day variant of picture discs actually stems from research carried out in Area 51 using applied science from mechanics found in a crashed alien spacecraft in 1947. It was believed for some time that creating such audio atrocities was some kind of extraterrestrial Trojan Horse plot but after years of testing the military deemed it safe enough to start mass-producing picture discs at the end of the 60s, as "worst-case scenario is that a bunch of hippies might die." The tests carried out in Area 51 - as well as the Trojan Horse theories postulated by the scientists assigned to the mammoth task - was a huge influence on the Species series of movies, which also look gorgeous but are terrible.
Picture discs: part of an alien plot to overthrow the Human race or just nice-looking records? We may never know.
- Mark Anthony Finch