Smokey and the Patent

Today marks the anniversary of two important happenings in history: The patent of the phonograph by Edison in 1878, and the birthday in 1940 of Smokey Robinson.

I was a little young to really appreciate Motown  in the early to mid 1960’s, but I liked the sound once I was in high school in the mid 1970’s. We had a big stereo with a turntable in the living room. It was mostly used as a piece of furniture.  On Halloween in 1973 my dad bought my first stereo in components that I kept in my room-two big speakers, a receiver/amplifier and a turntable.  I listened to Elton John.  I thought I was in heaven.

What Motown vinyl did you like to spin?  What kind of sound equipment did you have?

32 thoughts on “Smokey and the Patent”

  1. Motown was/is great but I preferred Stax. Booker T and The MGs was the house band. Some might remember members of the group from The Blues Brothers backing band. Generally speaking, Motown was sophisticated while Stax was raw.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. For true Motown: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips – the “girl groups.” Partly for the music and partly for the fun of pretending I am a Vandella or a Supreme (never Martha or Diana – just the backing singers).

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Motown wasn’t big at our house. As the youngest kid, I was mostly influenced by my older brothers record collection. Ozark Mountain Daredevils was big. (This was, I’m pleased to say (because the music was so great!) the late mid to late 70’s) And he had Jethro Tull and Chicago. Although he told me one day recently, he never liked Jethro Tull; a friend had given him the record and said he would like it. But it influenced me!
    Brother started getting stereo components so I did too. He of course hated it that I copied him.
    He had a Harmon Kardon receiver. I had a Craig unit to start. They as I got older I got a Yamaha receiver and turntable. (the turntable was kinda crap). Had Technics cassette players. Spent a lot of time in the local ‘Sound World’ store.
    I joined Columbia House for a penny! Got 8-tracks! And had a bus driver that was pretty cool and told me which rock bands to be listening too.
    I really liked Queen and The Who (Maximum R&B!)

    Kelly bought Bang and Olufsen stuff; she was fancy. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you Steve. There’s a couple theater people who farm, but we are a minority. And the higher up the theater chain I get, the fewer farmers I find working in there.
        It’s a good fit really.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. The overlap in the odd hours, finding truly creative solutions to quirky one-off problems, and a willingness to get really filthy in new and interesting ways…yeah. I can see where farming and theater fit together nicely. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  4. When I was a teenager my sister and I had a little foldup record player. It was in a case with a handle on top. You undid the clasp and the speakers swung out on hinges, and then the turntable pulled down Murphy bed style.

    I liked the Temptations and Otis Redding, and of course, Aretha.

    I recall my mother once making fun of Smokey Robinson, although she was usually not one to criticize modern music all that much. She mimicked Smokey going into a store to buy shirts and saying “I”ll take two of those” in a high falsetto. Of course, in the decades that followed, many performers with more peculiar appearances and vocal stylings were commonplace.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. OH! I remember a record player like that! Ours was blue and grey I think.

      Mom and Dad bought Telex all in one units. Telex was made here in Rochester I think.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. When I was a kid pop music was sold on 45 rpm disks, the kind with that big hole in the center. Most kids had cheap little 45 rpm players. When I graduated from high school my parents gave me a pos stereo that seemed high-tech to my folks but was really a low-fi misbegotten thing. It was a stereo.with two speakers you could separate. But for some reason the player kept losing one channel, which meant I was hearing half of the records I played. That deficiency led me to buy mono recordings so I at least could hear all of the recording.

      Liked by 5 people

    1. PHS, we must be the same age. My first record player was a 45 and my first record was a Sons of the Pioneers.. I always was a cowboy fan. My first stereo was similar to the one you mentioned. I took it to college with me and I played Johnny Mathis over and over so many times I wrote an essay for English class, I think from the point of view of the record player. Then came Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand. The next stereo was a Heathkit that a friend helped me build one summer while on Cape Cod. I still have the stereo but the speakers are defunct. The same friend introduced me to the blues and I fell in love with John Lee Hooker, Lightning Hopkins, Brownie & Sonny, Geoff Muldaur…then the Beatles and the Doors…and then, of course, the Morning Show that opened up a whole new world.
      ah, the memories…thanks, Renee.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was mainly into The Jackson Five and The Supremes. With 5 older sisters, I didn’t get to use the record player much. My next-door-neighbor friends had that “Murphy bed” turntable, so we would listen to Jackson 5 in their garage and dance to the music. I still love Michael Jackson songs.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Motown? ANYTHING! Second only to the Beatles (and on certain days, the Beach Boys) in my pantheon of great 60s music. Sister had a “suitcase” record player (not the Murphy bed type though). I didn’t get a stereo system until college. Smaller Advent speakers, Pioneer 12-D turntable (which I still use!) and a Kenwood 3400 stereo receiver–all of 16 watts of power. I still use that too in my basement when I’m playing my drums.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I grew up in a household where neither my sister nor I had our own record player or stereo. We shared a small transistor radio on which we could hear Radio Luxembourg fading in and out when Casey Kasem was counting down the Top Twenty.

    My parents had a tube radio and a turntable built into a large cabinet which also housed our rather limited collection of LPs. Mom was fond of humorous or sentimental Irish music, so those were well represented in our stash. Personally, I didn’t care for the sentimental songs like Danny Boy and I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen, but the humorous ones were fun. Here’s one for you, mom:

    I don’t think I’ve ever owned a Motown record, although I am familiar with a lot of the music. Guess by then I was more into folk and “long-haired music” as my dad called it.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I was curious about the song, and came up with this little bit of history on Wikipedia:

        Are Ye Right There Michael is a song by the 19th-century and early 20th-century Irish composer and musician Percy French, parodying the state of the West Clare Railway system in rural County Clare. It was inspired by an actual train journey in 1896. Because of a slow train and the decision of the driver to stop for no apparent reason, French, though having left Sligo in the early morning, arrived so late for an 8pm recital that the audience had left. The ballad caused considerable embarrassment for the rail company, which was mocked in music halls throughout Ireland and Britain because of the song. It led to an unsuccessful libel action against French.

        It is said that when French arrived late for the libel hearing, the judge chided him on his lateness. French reportedly responded “Your honour, I travelled by the West Clare Railway”, resulting in the case being thrown out.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I had a very “white” record collection, but I really didn’t buy that many records. I would have probably bought Mary Wells’ My Guy, but my best friend Jennifer had it, so I had enough access. I also loved singles like Heard it Through the Grapevine… I remember buying Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions in the 70s, still have my tape of that…

    We had a little suitcase (more like cosmetic case) sized record player that would play 45s and 33s, but it was before stereos. I remember the day (mid 60s?) my folks bought a stereo console – long beautiful thing, and the sound that came out was amazing. My mom and I actually danced around the dining room listening to Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony.

    First year I was teaching, I bought my stereo components at a music shop on Market Street, San Francisco. It cost $100, and I paid 10 installments because that’s how I could afford it. Was proud of myself for learning how to hook up the wires. 🙂 Felt very grown up.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Funny that you should comment on how “white” your record collection was, BiR; when I look back on the earliest records I owned, I’m surprised at how “black” mine was. I wasn’t really cognizant of it at the time, but in retrospect it stands out. I suppose Casey Kasem introduced me to a lot of those black artists over the radio, and I was blissfully unaware of their color, in some cases, until years later.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Music was not a big deal in my house when I was growing up. I did not own a record player (yes that’s what we called them back then until I went off to college and then it was my roommate’s anyway. My father also had problems with a lot of modern music from John Denver sounding too nasally to Simon & Garfunkel being dirty to Jefferson Airplane not being understandable, so I didn’t have records of my own. I do remember when my folks got an 8-track tape player – the first 8-track that my dad bought was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The second was The King and I. So extrapolate what you will about my musical background.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. OT – Dinosaur that I am, I still have and listen to a lot of CDs, including my Keepers collection. I was sorting through some CDs and realized that I am missing some Keepers. I knew I didn’t have them all, but a few years ago the Baboons joined forces and that I should now have a complete set. However, I can’t find a complete list of the titles and order and I’m not sure how many there should be. Long prologue, cut to the chase; I own originals or copies of:
    1994 Keepers – Morning Show Favorites
    1995 Keepers 2 – More Morning Show Favorites
    1996 Catch and Release – Keepers Live
    1996 (1997?) Far and Back Again – Keepers Celtic
    1997 Keepers Christmas
    1999 Keepers – Coffee With Cream
    2000 Keepers – A Cappella
    2001 Comfort Keepers
    2003 Keepers – Railroad Tracks
    2004 Best of Keepers
    2005 Keepers Car Songs
    2008/2009? The Final Morning Show

    The only other title I can recall for sure, is Time Keepers. Can someone help me to at least know what I’m missing? I get in these completist moods every now and then. Thanks, OC


    1. I don’t know either, OC, sorry. I think I have the Coffee one, which I found somewhere or other, but don’t have any of the others. I did a quick google search to see if I could find a complete list, but came up with nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think I have the final Morning Show on a MP3 file. I will poke around. I admire your attention span. I never have been able to sustain attention long enough to collect that many items from year to year. I.e. I have one, and only one, Dayton Santa Bear which they issued for many years. After the first one I got distracted.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Looks like I am snowed it today—will be meeting with staff and clients via tele-health. We have about 4” here in Eden Prairie and it is coming down FAST.

    Yesterday WP was acting up and would not allow me to participate from my iPad, even refusing to allow me to “like” a comment. It seems to be letting me in today.

    As a small child I had a small, suitcase-style “record player” on which I played my yellow Howdy-Doody records, which were among my most cherished possessions. Later I purchased my own suitcase-style stereo system that sat on my dresser. I don’t think I owned any Mo-Town records. I can’t even remember if our local, very conservative music store, sold them. I do remember loving Smokey, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, and the Supremes. I heard those groups on the Top 40 countdowns broadcast by larger music stations. To purchase those records we had to get to Sioux City, Iowa where those were sold and those trips were rare.

    Liked by 2 people

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