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The Accidental Birth of the 12" Single
January 9, 2013 2:59 PM   Subscribe

"You know why we did [that]? So a DJ could take a lunch break. When you have all three-minute records, you don't even have time to go to the bathroom. Or you just want to stop for a minute. So that's 19-and-a-half minutes of 'I don't have to worry about a thing.' But I didn't do it to create this thing. I just did it to help the DJs out."
posted by .kobayashi. (19 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's an awesome story. And a super platter of grooves. Thanks, .kobayashi.!

I always thought they invented the 12" single so that I could have seven minutes and eighteen seconds of "Things Can Only Get Better" to peg my pants to.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:06 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great post :) And yes, having a few 10 minute records in your bag is essential for long sets. (or was, I guess)
posted by empath at 3:17 PM on January 9, 2013


OK that might be the truth, but I will always believe that this is the reason 12" singles were created.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:18 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK that might be the truth, but I will always believe that this is the reason 12" singles were created

Didn't that come on a 5.25" floppy?
posted by eyeballkid at 3:21 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


19-and-a-half minutes? Geez, when I was a DJ, we could do bathroom breaks in a 7-minute "Hey Jude" (or if you worked at one of those square "M.O.R." stations, Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park"). If you couldn't go AND WASH YOUR HANDS in that time, you couldn't even get a 1st Class Radio License.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love that the music clip is from Rico Passerini's Soundcloud account. That man is the master archivist of dance music.
posted by LMGM at 3:25 PM on January 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Holy cow, LMGM, that link just made this post/thread infinitely better. Thanks for sharing! Looks like I've got a lot of listening to do.
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:26 PM on January 9, 2013


Didn't that come on a 5.25" floppy?

The cover artwork was a floppy, but I don't think the track was released on one. I remember a Parachute Club track that arrived at WRBC as a 5.25" but the only way to listen to it was to bring it to, you know, a computer, which were in short supply in our studio in the late 80's. Yeah, basically, we couldn't play it live on the air.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:53 PM on January 9, 2013


Yeah I am sure the Station manager loved them until the first time a record started to repeat over and over and over and the DJ is in the loo taking a long tail view of the day, so to speak.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:04 PM on January 9, 2013


19-and-a-half minutes? Geez, when I was a DJ, we could do bathroom breaks in a 7-minute "Hey Jude" (or if you worked at one of those square "M.O.R." stations, Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park"). If you couldn't go AND WASH YOUR HANDS in that time, you couldn't even get a 1st Class Radio License.

Great, now try it in a packed night club full of drunk people with the bathroom on the other side of the dance floor.
posted by empath at 4:05 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Half of whom don't realize that you're the DJ and if they don't let you go in front of them the music is going to stop in a couple of minutes.
posted by flaterik at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


...then there's the opposite of "let's put the 5:35 mix on a 12" so we can cut it really loud", better known as "let's cut the 16-minute mix at 45 so it can sound like an utter disaster".

I swear that's the only record in my collection that'll mistrack due to the change in atmospheric pressure when a warm front blows through.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 5:22 PM on January 9, 2013


A buddy of mine is a vinyl DJ. He's got a handful of 15-20 minute songs he plays every set that I've never actually heard the middle of. Because that's when we're outside getting high.
posted by Jawn at 5:27 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, I didn't expect to dig this article even half as much as I did. Excellent stuff! I had to look Moulton up -- I didn't expect him to have such a bitchin' 'stache.
posted by barnacles at 6:43 PM on January 9, 2013


The 12" single was invented so callow teenagers could skate around ice-rinks listening to interminable versions of 'Two Hearts Beat as One' (U2), 'Alive and Kicking' (Simple Minds) and 'Love's Great Adventure' (Ultravox). At the time I suspected these sample-heavy, big beat epics were naff, and I'm too afraid to revisit.
posted by misterbee at 8:13 PM on January 9, 2013


Paul Morley made an excellent BBC Radio 4 documentary on this subject recently.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"NPR: So James Brown was on the label by then?

TM: Yes, God was on the label.

NPR: Did you work with him directly?

TM: No, but I did meet him. I was so nervous. He pulled up in a white limousine and had a white suit on. My boss opened up the door for him and goes, "Mr. Brown, I'd like you to meet our promotions man." [Brown] goes, "How you doin'? Gimme some skin on the dark side!" I swear: I was never going to wash my hand again because he touched me. Really."

I think I would have cut my hand off and framed it!
posted by marienbad at 3:50 AM on January 10, 2013


Great article, and I, too noticed that the streaming mix was from R_co. Here's an interview with Rico, in which we learn he's just an avid music fan, no one special.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:22 AM on January 10, 2013


The 12" single was invented so callow teenagers could skate around ice-rinks listening to interminable versions of 'Two Hearts Beat as One' (U2), 'Alive and Kicking' (Simple Minds) and 'Love's Great Adventure' (Ultravox).

Or, they were invented in an attempt to dethrone "Stairway To Heaven" as the (Un)Official Last Song For High School Dance Playlists in the 1980's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on January 10, 2013


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