Friday, February 08, 2013

Shortest and longest singles

One of my favourite TV programmes is Pointless, the quiz where contestants have to demonstrate their obscure knowledge in order to win. One topic today was short records - singles that lasted less than two minutes or so. Among them were two which were 'pointless' - in other words records for which none of the 100 people sampled were able to name the artists. These were Some Kinda Earthquake by Duane Eddy and Stay by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Both
are around one minute 30 seconds in length and must be contenders for the title of shortest 45s of the time, but it made me realise just how forgotten most of the singles of the late 50's and early 60's are today. They were both great records, and quite big hits of their day, but are now almost totally forgotten. The same applies to the majority of other records of that era, whether hits or, even more so, misses.
Many of the classics 45s by Little Richard, Elvis, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis were around two minutes in length - indeed Party by Elvis was one of the very shortest - and they were perfect, proving that more does not necesssarily mean better. Their length was limited by the demands of radio stations which wanted a fast turn over. But which is the shortest 45 ever (from the 50s and 60s era)? I'm not sure but would be interested in suggestions. Later, of course, 45s increased in length, although many of the longer LP tracks were reduced for single release (Light My Fire by The Doors, for example). The longest 60's single that I've come across is I Keep Singing That Same Old Somg, recorded by Heavy Jelly for the Island label in 1969, which ran to nearly eight minutes. Is there a longer pre-1970 45 I wonder? Suggestions welcome.


At 9:50 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shortest single I have (shortest double sider even) is SUN 363
JOHNNY CASH My Treasure (1:13)
b/w Sugartime (1:46).
Longest probably DION Born To Be with You (just under 7 minutes)
Gordon F

At 11:31 am , Blogger Nick said...

The Johnny Cash certainly must be a contender for the shortest double sider and if there's a 50s or 60s single that's shorter than My Treasure I would be surprised. Thanks for the info!

At 1:37 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't see that episode of Pointless sadly. Never thought either 'Stay' or 'Some Kinda Earthquake' could ever be described as such.. Made me interested just how many good 45's come in under 100 seconds (or 1:40) and it's quite revealing:

Just gone through my iTunes and excluding alternative takes, album tracks and unissued stuff the shortest commercially tracks on 45 I can find are the Johnny Cash 45 Gordon Fleming noted. The Small Faces' 'Just Passing' comes in a full second longer at 1:14. US issue of 'Some Kinda Earthquake' at 1:19. Larry Page's awful cover of 'Big Blonde Baby' outstays it's welcome even at 1:24. Elvis' 'Party' is 1:27; Sanford Clark's 'New Kind of Fool' is 1:28. Ersel Hickey's 'Bluebirds Over The Mountain' at 1:30. The Phantom 'Love Me' is 1:33. Buddy Knox 'The Kisses (They're All Mine)' is also 1:33. The great 'Whistlebait' by the Collins Kids is 1:34. Thomas Wayne's 'Saturday Date' is only 1:35. Big Al Downing 'Down on the Farm' is only 1:36 and still has time for 2 instro breaks. Cliff Bennett 'You Got What I Like' is only 1:37 as is Buddy Holly's 'Baby I Don't Care' and Adam Faith's 'What Do You Want'. At 1:38 come Gene Vincent's 'Anna annabelle', The Beach Boy's 'Little Deuce Coupe'. Finally ,along with Maurice Williams, at 1:39 we have Charlie Gracie and his 'Cool Baby', TFTW Housebands favourite by the Nightraiders 'Cottonpickin'.

I won't bother with long songs (anything over 2:59 loses my attention..)
John S

At 7:07 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Good detective work John. If only I had iTunes I could have checked for myself - but as you know I'm stuck in the vinyl age!

At 7:54 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best age Nick!


At 1:06 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, noone could name 'Stay' by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs? Christ, that was a US number one and even if that went unnoticed here, I thought the film Dirty Dancing had a bafflingly huge fan base, many of whom could name every song included in it (which 'Stay' was.) Disappointed! Lol. Daniel.

At 1:09 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Every song and artist, I should have specified. Daniel.

At 1:15 pm , Blogger Nick said...

'Stay' was a hit in the UK, (reached the top ten), but there was a later cover by the Hollies which is probably remembered more (even though it was pretty poor). It's amazing how low some of the scores on Pointless are sometimes -it seems that only about 70 per cent of people even know the name of the Prime Minister! Just shows how thick many people in the UK are!


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