DEAR JERRY: In one of your older columns, you briefly mention what must be the world's first promotional 45 rpm single, RCA's “Whirl-Away Demonstration Record.”
Since the focus of that particular Q&A was RCA's first batch of 45s, in 1949, you understandably didn't elaborate on this record.
Was it made just for radio stations, like most promos?
I will never own or hear this disc, so can you explain what it's all about?
Clint Paige, York, Pa.
DEAR CLINT: I can, thanks to Doug Fields (Avoca, Arkansas), who provided me with the audio.
In February 1949, RCA Victor shipped the very first batch of 45s to record stores. Some of the larger retail shops also received a special display where customers could see samples of the new format as well as a list of 45 rpm selections that could be ordered.
Made specifically for in-store use, and not broadcasters, the “Whirl-Away Demonstration Record” played over and over, calling attention to the colorful display.
This five minute program opens with about 12 seconds of “Sleeping Beauty,” after which the unnamed male host says:
“You're listening to the 'Sleeping Beauty,' Tchaikovsky's beautiful ballet music on the new distortion-free, RCA Victor 45 rpm record.
“Toscanini hailed them [45s] as 'remarkably faithful and a significant advance.
“Listen, compare, and you too will agree that RCA Victor's 45 rpm record is the finest and best ever made.
“The record you are hearing is made of pure vinylite, yet you pay less for it. No breakage worries. No storage problems. One convenient size all seven inches.
“More than 150 records, or 24 hours of listening pleasure fit neatly into one small foot of bookshelf space.” Music: about 10 seconds more of Tchaikovsky.
“Just as the music you have heard is famous for its musical coloring, so too the seven bright colors of these new records represent seven major kinds of music.
“The 'Sleeping Beauty' and all of the other great [Red Seal] classics by the world's greatest artists are recorded on the ruby red record.
“Your favorite operettas and other semi-classics are on the midnight blue. Like this:”
Music: 30 seconds of two selections from “The Desert Song:” the title song followed by “One Alone.” (Thanks to Eugene Li, of Singapore, for identifying this segment.)
“Yes, there's music for everyone on the new RCA Victor 45 rpm record. For instance:”
Music: the first 45 seconds of “Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend),” by Vaughn Monroe.
“Popular hits come on the conventional black record, with artists like Perry Como, Sammy Kaye, Vaughn Monroe, Tommy Dorsey, Phil Harris, and other top-notch artists.
“You'll really hear them as you've never heard them before, on the new RCA Victor 45 rpm records. Listen now to Eddy Arnold:”
Music: the first 30 seconds of “Bouquet of Roses.”
“Eddy, as you know, is a popular artist of the country and western type of music, whose works are recorded on the all-green records.
“There's the cerise [cherry red] record for blues and rhythm, the sky-blue record for international music, and a wonderful new children's line, better than ever, brighter than ever, in a golden yellow.”
Music: about seven seconds of Tchaikovsky.
“All of the records spinning around at the top of this display are not only wonderful to see but beautiful to hear.
“Ask for the RCA Victor 45 rpm record catalog right now. Check the records you want to hear. Try them on the demonstration player.
“You'll be amazed at the clarity, the beauty, the joy of a record recorded entirely within the quality zone.”
The program closes with about 15 seconds of Tchaikovsky.
IZ ZAT SO? Based strictly on it being the first promo 45 not on musical content RCA's “Whirl-Away Demonstration Record” is valued at $50 to $100.
As for the seven colored vinyl records issued in RCA Victor's 45 rpm debut package, only “That's All Right,” by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup" has value commensurate with the event's importance.
“That's All Right” can sell for $400 to $500, while each of the other six in the set can be had for under $50.
Click here to see the RCA Victor 45 rpm Preview Mailer.
Though a separate 45 rpm demonstration record for radio stations seems quite possible, we have yet to learn of one.