Saturday, 2 May 2009

Rockola Vader World

I don't like to be tied to short posts. Oz was only saying the same thing to Lily this morning.

Let me take you back to the early 1960's when Gravesend in North Kent was a thriving centre of excellence in all things retail. You could buy things like catapault elastic by the yard in Shaddicks in Harmer Street where they also stocked every individual piece of Meccano for sale by the piece. Over the road in Munns the range of Rollex plastic pencil cases new no limits.

Anyway, I'm taking you not here but round the corner into Parrock Street where one of the first new fangled Coffee Bars plied its trade. I can't remember the name but it wasn't the "3 I's" where Cliff Richard had been discovered - I think it may have been the "4 I's" where Hank Marvin and Buddy Holly used to hang out making an interesting spectacle of themselves. What this Coffee Bar possessed which had become a magnetic draw for the fresh faced young Rog, pulling him away from the delights of Catapault elastic, pencil cases and Meccano 6"x2" Fishplates was .... a Juke Box!

We all thought this was the coolest thing in state of the art cool! We would hang about after school drinking Coke and taking it in turns to swagger up to the Rockola Juke Box, select the best record we could find and swagger back, glancing carefully around to see if anyone had passed out with delight at the quality of one's selection. Obscure "B" sides were always a favourite rather than the obvious hits to really weed out the discerning listeners.

This went on right through my teenage years when the highlight of the year would be hitch-hiking round the Country with Jeff Long and descending on obscure little cafes in Oswestry or Thame or Caerphilly where we would hit the locals with our stunning metrosexual London ways by putting on the "B" side of "Black is Black" by Los Bravos or "Rain by the Beatles. How everyone was impressed!

Occasionally someone would drop into the conversation that they knew a friend of a friend who had been to the house of the bassist for Roy Harper or someone and he had HIS OWN JUKE BOX! Imagine that, we would drool, virtually DOZENS of poptabulous vinyl 45's ON TAP in your very own living room!

To bring this sad little tale up to date, two weeks ago I ordered one of these from Ebay:

I then wheeled out the old stereo system in the lounge which hadn't been fired up in anger since the ipod nano had appeared.
I connected the Logitech to the Stereo and the Laptop, logged into my free account at and what did I have, right there in the lounge?

THE BIGGEST FLIPPING JUKEBOX IN THE WORLD, that's what!!! Half a million tracks right there at the touch of a key, completely free!!! And they say we haven't progressed as a civilisation.


I've sadly now discovered that queueing up Bob Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" with Suzanne Vega's "Solitude Standing" and Richard Thompson's "Shoot Out The Lights" and then swaggering back to the laptop glancing across to Mrs Rine for her approval doesn't wash. As Justin Timberlake's biggest fan she loathes the Bobmeister et al and feigns vomiting and throws cushions. I may have to revert back to the old Ipod. Bah!


Magwitch said...

Better still, line up those classics on Spotify and fire up WireTap Studio on the Mac. My back catalogue is just overflowing with old albums that I never got around to buying on CD - hefty helpings of Deep Purple Live, early Gentle Giant and Van der Graaf Generator, even the odd bit of Caravan (sadly Cunning Stunts is not on the play list at the moment)

Dave said...

Shaddicks. How could I forget Shaddicks?

Spotify has taken me back to the past I had forgotten I had.

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

I wonder where you used to go to buy vowels? It can't have been locally -in our day Gravesenders had a reputation for only having one vowel, a sort of universal flat e that made Gravesend come out as 'Grerves-ernd'. I had a friend from Gravesend known to all as 'Nerb'.

Dave said...

There is no 'D' in spoken Graysen', Christopher.

KAZ said...

I love your 'Système de musique sans fils'.
I too remember that need to be cool and esoteric when loading the juke box - usually with some esoteric blues track by Blind Willie Howling Hopkins.
I knew the jaaz fan was not for me when he chose Petula Clark and a (very poor) Rod Stewart track.

Geoff said...

Betty's got about a year's reprieve before I play all my Bob Dylan albums in a row again.

I haven't touched Spotify for a couple of weeks and my mp3 player for a couple of years. I'm still in love with CDs. The computer is useful for making compilation CDs and downloading singles that aren't on albums, though.

Sarah said...

Hadn't come across spotify before...thanks Rog.
Have managed to clear the house of children playing Grace Jones very loudly

Rog said...

Magwitch: I think that's only legal if you record the adverts and listen to them as well. I'm not sure Van der Graaf Generator was EVER legal!

Dave: No trip to town on a Saturday Morning was complete without a trawl through the balsawood at Shaddicks, drooling over their set 10 Meccano. I was still 23 at the time, mind.

Christopher: It's a whining Mick Jagger sort of sound. Eshtry English. The Nerbs used to speak a bit posher though.

Kaz: I think Blind Willie Howling Hopkins went downhill after his laser eye surgery. He's still playing in the "4i's" I believe. Did he choose "Downtown" or "Downtown Train".

Geoff: You are keeping up the retro traditions of North Kent. I was the same with my Green Vinyl Dansette.

Sarah: If your kids were playing Grace Jones loudly you SHOULD have cleared them from the house!

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Having thought about it all through tea-time I remember now that 'Nerb' was an abbreviation of 'Nerberls' (to rhyme, coincidentally, with Goebbels) because the lad in question was supposed to have undescended testicles. This chap was a reasonable pianist who played in the style of Mrs Mills and Russ Conway with Charlie Kunz as a chaser. By the time these (and their mentor Winifred Atwell) had gone out of fashion he became, no doubt to his great relief, known as 'Terb'.

john.g. said...

Dont give up on the vomiting Rog, it entertains others!

Rog said...

Christopher: I hope poor Terb didn't move to Diss. Russ Conway had a finger short you know.

John: Thanks for bringing that up.

Betty said...

Actually, our radiogram has one of those big levers that Smashy & Nice used when playing You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

I'm a bit concerned that Roberta and Jonathan who turn up to ruin your Spotify listening have the same, weird accent.

Rog said...

Betty: Congratualions for being the only person in the world to use the words "Spotify" and "Radiograme" in the same comment.
I suspect it's only a matter of time before Roberta & Jonathan get nasty - they are like crack dealers who get you hooked and then force you to pay through the nose.