My box of records

‘Do you really need to keep this box with all these records?’  The challenge so many of a certain age dread.

‘Of course I do.  They will be worth money in years to come.’  It’s a standard answer, but it cuts little ice.  Perhaps I should give the real reason – my teenage years are kept safe in this box.  Well, actually there are some other boxes around as well.  All full with 45rpm singles and EPs and LPs – oh – and some 78s!

Flipping through the contents the memories come flooding back.

There are all Elvis’ HMV releases here – starting with the May 1956 release of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.  Also here is the HMV 10” compilation LP that describes it as ‘that blues tinged opus in agony’.  For me these are still ‘real’ Elvis.

Matching these are the full set of singles from Buddy Holly and the Crickets – starting with ‘That’ll be the day’, the distinctive black Coral label with the push-out triangular centre still there – now held in place by some ancient white glue.

There’s Lonnie Donegan’s Decca EP, released while he was still with Chris Barber’s Jazz Band.  While the band had a break, Donegan and two/three of the band had jammed in a folksy style that leant on American Blues.  ‘Digging my Potatoes’ is typical of this cross-over and, as far as I can remember, was banned by the BBC because of its double entendre!  It was through these breaks that Skiffle was born – and Lonnie Donegan was the name that everyone remembered.

However – there are others here in my memory box.  Nancy Whiskey – the only female vocalist to make a break through – fronting Chas McDevitt’s skiffle group with ‘Freight Train’; Wally Wyton – later to become a fixture on the radio – and the Vipers with ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’ and ‘Streamline Train’.  Donegan had the bigger hit with ‘Daddy-O’ but I preferred the Vipers’ version.

The track, though, that made Donegan’s name was the US Country style ‘Rock Island Line’ that was released by Decca Records in January 1956.  While it made Donegan’s name it did not make him his fortune.  He was paid a flat recording fee – I believe it was £25!  The track was also released in the US – and it made the charts there as well.

There was, perhaps, another – unexpected – step in the popular success of ‘Rock Island Line’ and Lonnie Donegan himself; and that was a US funny man called Stan Freberg.  He’s in my box as well – well actually twice.  I have two disks with Stan’s fantastic version of ‘Rock Island Line’.  On the other side of one – the US version – is a take on Harry Belafonte’s ‘Banana Boat Song’.  The ‘British’ disc has Lonnie on one side but he has to put up with a take on Mr Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.  What a mix!

I think this is enough for today.  We’ll have another dip in my Records Box same day next week.

However – were you of this era?  Are my memories the same as yours?  If you & they are – why not let me know?

You can post your memories here or to my e-mail address of

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