Ah, the 7” record... It’s amazing to think that this simple piece of technology has been around for over 100 years and has outlasted three major audio formats (reel-to-reel tape, 8-track and compact cassette for you audiophiles out there). In fact all records, including 7” albums, are now more popular than they were ten years ago with sales continually on the rise. Many Arizona artists have contributed to the vast legacy of the 7”… here’s a glimpse at just some the greatness.
Ok, so the first commercial 7” disc was made in 1894 and played at a speed of 70 rpm. By the 1950’s, record companies had streamlined the record-making process and used the standard 33 and 1/3 or, more often, 45 rpm speed settings. These “45’s” would feature an artist’s hit single on side A, and another cut on the “B-side.” The wider hole in the center of these records allowed for jukeboxes or at-home “changers” to automatically switch to a new 45 when the old one had finished playing: the first iPod.
Beginning in the early 1950’s, Floyd Ramsey was recording local Arizona bands for his “Audio Recorders” studio and label. This small studio at 7th Street and Weldon in Phoenix grew to become the most successful recording studio in Arizona, with yearly grosses in the millions. Many best selling musicians got their start making 7” and 12” records for one of Floyd’s many labels including Sanford Clark, Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings, and Wayne Newton, to name but a few.
In the 1960’s, the 45’s heyday, you weren’t “in the scene” unless you had a 7” pressing of your single, ready for airplay. Bands like the Grapes Of Wrath, Floyd & Jerry, the Dearly Beloved, the Caravelles, Superfine Dandelion, Mike Condello and Last Fridays Fire, the Spiders, the Nazz, Thackeray Rocke and Phil & The Frantics all had 45’s of their hit songs. Local radio stations like KRUX and KCAC spun local music along with the national acts.
As the 70’s turned into the 80’s turned into the 90’s, the 7” fell into further obscurity and became used primarily by new wave, punk or hardcore acts like Billy Clone and the Fame, The Jetzons, Blue Shoes, Insurrection, Flotsam and Jetsam, the Feederz and Jodie Foster’s Army. Popular “Tempe rock” bands such as the Meat Puppets and the Gin Blossoms also released 7” singles and EPs at this time.
Cover for the Rumspringer / Sleep Like A Log Split 7"
In the 2000’s, the 7” soared in popularity due to the sheer amount of music being made independently and the rising desire of bands eager to make vinyl releases. Bands such as JJCnV, Calexico, Rumspringer, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Treasure Mammal have all released multiple 7” EPs, and the latter two bands are featured on the brand new Chronicles of Sheriff Joe 7” that came out a couple weeks ago. Hell, even Jimmy Eat World with Interscope Records released their new single “My Best Theory” as a 7” single with “Stop” as the B-side.
Never has there been a more perfect unity between labels and bands without much money releasing records and people without much money buying them. Go to any local record store and you’re sure to find a 7”or two of an Arizona band. Pick one up and give it a spin, you never know what you might find.
Cover for the Treasure Mammal / Feel Free Split 7"