Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gramophone Records-Some Musings

As a person interested in collecting gramophone records, it has been my favourite past time to arrange and rearrange my small collection of records on my shelf -film wise, singer wise, music director wise, theme wise etc. It is also a pleasure to look at the pictures on the jackets of records, read the blurbs and generally to revive the memories of the old films I had seen and the films I could not see then but could see on the small screen later.
It is said that when one grows old his ability to remember events of recent past diminishes but old memories come flashing, at the slightest stimulus , vividly and with minute details. I think there is truth in this. The gramophone records take me back to my younger days when watching films, listening to film music, discussing films and film music with friends and colleagues, going to stage programs of great playback singers[ there used to be number of such programmes] and musical evenings organised by local music clubs offered a wonderful time to many of us.
Apart from rearranging these records there are other connected activities like repairing the torn jackets, putting records in new polythene sleeves, making covers for old 78rpm records whose original paper covers with round holes in the middle are no more, keep the record collector engaged. The original jackets add value to the records and preserving them by pasting the crumbling edges with tracing paper etc., can take a lot of time.To me, knowledge of bookbinding acquired during craft periods in the school stands in good stead, thanks to late Ambadi Master, our crafts teacher. Preoccupation with jackets of records is found to be a common characteristic of record lovers .
Coming back to my collection of records, I find that those purchased by me from music shops as and when they were released are less compared to those collected later from store rooms of music shops, from the pavement vendors in cities like Calcutta, Bombay,Delhi etc.A perusal of the collections makes me wonder who the music lovers who had purchased them first hand were, how many of them are still alive, how many times these records would have changed hands before falling into the hands of pavement vendors etc., and finally reaching my hands. On many of the covers the date of purchase is recorded with or without signatures, some of them legible and others not so. On the cover of the LP record, 'Gulzar-His Songs of Love', there is the signature of Subhas Pal Choudhury.
On the famous album of Jagjit and Chitra Singh's, 'The Unforgettables', there is the signature of 'Rita Mukherjee', dated 6th of August 1981.
The style and flourish of these signatures have always impressed me making me wonder who these lovers of love songs and Gazals are. The record, 'Legendary Melodies-C.H.Atma' the dealers' seal, 'Raja Records' is fixed there on] shows an inscription, probably made by the purchaser, ' Sir with love', but without any indication as to who the disciple and sir are. I wonder about the myriad thoughts that would have passed their minds while holding their gifts ?
In the 60s and 70s people found LP records as an useful,convenient and lasting item to present to their loved ones whatever may be the occasion. The album, 'From Lata With Love', shows that it was originally purchased on the 8Th of June 1977 at Nainital and presented, 'With Love to dear Govind by G.G Mini and Jai'.

On the album,'Haunting Melodies of Lata Mangeshker', there is a writing in red ink, 'With Love to Joe and Giti....Didi 19Th May1974'.
There is one LP record,'Shehnai-Nawaz-BismillaKhan,'containing an inscription in pen on the cover,' 'With best compliments to Babli from Kartikda 26-1-1970'.
On the cover of album,' S.D.Burman-In Memoriam', there is this writing;"Dearest Mammy-Shrelatha-Lots and lots of love -Neethi and Arun- Summer'76. To me, all these show how much that generation loved music and how much it formed part and parcel of life.

My friends and colleagues had presented a few LP records to me without writing any thing on them.The record , 'Golden Non Stop Dancing 10- James Last ,'was presented to me in the early 70s by my friend and colleague Anil [Prabhu]at Bangalore . It was during this period a few of us acquired Stereo systems for the first time. Anil was having a carefully selected and matched Stereo system[ Garrard Player, PanatronicAmplifier and Waco Speakers] with a variety of groovy stickers on them!It was Anil who gave us valuable tips about record players and stereo systems. I used to hang around the music shop, Murphy Radio House on Brigade road Bangalore, to listen to new records and to make occasional purchases . I was filled with nostalgia when I recently got a record of film, 'Paigham', with their label fixed on the cover.

An LP record of Olivia Newton John, 'Dont stop Believing', was presented to me by my colleague , Dhanraj, in the early 70s. After more than 35years I met him the other day at a wedding . Retired and well settled , he was surprised when I told him that I still listened to the record on my gramophone.

Another album of Olivia Newton John shows a typed strip , 'Clement G.Koduvathara-3rd September1985' with a signature above it.
The name R.K Dugar appears on album, 'Suresh Dreams at Dawn - an instrumental tribute to Mukesh'. The names B. L. Chandok and Megraj Motilal appear on the album , 'Musical Heights from Raj Kamal . The name , Mrs .D. Sengupta, appears on the EP Record of film Aandhi. I can go on and on .
I am sure that the first owners of these records are still very much alive. Anyway, I refuse to believe otherwise . They can be assured that the records would remain safe in my hands during my time, and , from the present indications, the next generation also. But I would be a very happy collector of records if any of the persons mentioned earlier or any other reader could recognise the records and make a contact.(Click on the photos to view them clearly)

I am waiting.

Tail piece: Old books purchased by me from Moore Market, Madras, and else where in the 60s and 70s evoked similar sentiments.


Sandy said...

Great Jayshankar!! Any thing and everything on these vynyl jackets invokes your keyboard.. great reading for similar enthusiasts!! Enjoyed Reading it !!

Karen said...

I do the exact same thing as you (though im not old, only 22) i love looking at the pictures and reading the blurbs. I catergorize all of my Hindi lp's my name and punjabi ones by the Singers name. A few of the records that I do have do have the previous owners names on it and i just think that it is so cool thaat one point somebody really treasured the record that i have now.