5:00pm on Sunday.
12:45pm on Tuesday.
These were the two most important times of the week. Every Sunday in the early ’70s I was glued to Radio 1 between 5:00pm-7:00pm for that week’s new chart .. the eager anticipation until about 6:50pm when the new number 2 record was played.
Well, when you heard number 2, you knew number 1 so the anticipation bubble popped.
Then, sometime around 1975, the date and time of the new chart announcement changed. It became a rundown of the top 5 only between 12:45pm-1:00pm on Tuesday. Whilst this amendment led to some discussions and debate during the afternoon break at school (“Roxy Music ur shite man” … “Naw they urny'”), a little bit of the magic of anticipation had been lost. You still got a brief rundown of numbers 40 to six, but it wasn’t the same as stringing the tension out for two hours. Fast forward to 2019 and now I can’t tell you any song in the charts. In fact, is there even still a chart? If so, how is it calculated?
Also, from 7:00pm – 8:00pm on Sunday, you used to hear the new releases for the following week – almost as exciting a programme as the chart itself. But over time songs started being played many weeks before release. Call me an old fogey (“Andy, you’re an old fogey!!”) but the sense of anticipation of hearing a new tune for the first time was lost.
Which is all a rather longwinded way to pine for the good old 45rpm 7″ single. What is the market for them any more? Technology-wise they’re archaic. The songs need to be shorter than around three-and-a-half minutes (compared to the 12″ single); it’s a bit of a pain in the arse to get up and down to stick one after the other on the turntable, and they take space to store. They’re not cheap to buy but from a business point of view the profit margin on a 7″ single is thin. And of course the object itself is more susceptible to damage than a CD.
So why would anyone bother with them in these days of always-on, always-on-demand streaming? Why indeed. I’d love to hear other folks’ views on this.
For me it’s not necessarily about the music itself. Although I don’t just buy anything, they’re a great way to support a new band; most often a support act who you happen to stumble across. Recently I saw such a band and they were selling their single for £8 – I thought they were great so I gave them more for it. In my small way I’ve hopefully enabled them to have one more day creating new music for us to enjoy.
I don’t know anyone who gets excited about music charts anymore. But in my view there is still a place for the good old 7″ single to encourage, market and build a fanbase, and for collectors to get excited about the possibility of a rarity from the ‘next big thing’. Or, indeed, for established artists to release music in a beautiful, collectable format. The Charlatans are a prime example.
Also, well, those late night Fridays over beers when the 7″ singles get dusted down only to wake up on Saturday morning to find them strewn across the floor. Stranglers’ ‘Go Buddy Go’ next to the Japanese yellow vinyl version of Kraftwerk’s ‘Pocket Calculator’.
Oh what fun we had.