Unusual formats, well worth collecting...

Unusual formats, well worth collecting...
Authored By John Nicholson
Singles are 7”, albums are 12” right? Well, most of the time, but there are exceptions that are well worth collecting. I have a 6” single by Spirit. I have no idea why it’s 6 inches, it provides a little bit of extra time, and that’s it. In the 1930s, some transcription discs were 16″s, cut onto aluminium and used to broadcast radio shows. As far back as the ’50s there were 6″ and 8″ children’s stories and nursery rhymes that spun at 78rpm, sometimes on splatter or sunburst coloured vinyl.
In the 1960’s there was a fad for ‘pocket-sized’ 4” records, but it didn’t last long. More remarkable was that they sold via vending machines. I think this was an American thing. I've never seen vending machines in the UK. The Japanese were pressing 3 inch records of theme tunes from TV shows. Nine Inch Nails released a 9 inch record ‘Sin’.
There are weird format collectors who gather  3, 4, 5, 6 and 8″ records. More mainstream is the 10” record which still gets pressed. Maximum length is about 10 minutes, so it’s ideal for bands that don't have a full album of material, but have more than a single's worth. There is something satisfying about the 10”. I’ve one by LA Guns and another by Courtney Pine. If anything, they are pressed more today than they ever used to be.
It’s remarkable how resilient 7 and 12” is as a format 45rpm and 331/3rpm, but my Dansette had a 16rpm setting. I never had any records in that speed and it was largely reserved for speech records which must have had a popularity, even in the early 60s. 
The unusual formats offer a small frisson of delight and are well worth collecting.

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