33 & ⅓

Posted by Brendon Cottrell

It turns out that this isn't just George's first full length on his own label Dark Horse. It’s the actual rotations per minute or RPM of the 12” records you’re probably spinning.

33 ⅓ wasn’t released until 1976 and for this blog we need to go back to around 1925. Until this point the speed at which records were played back varied mostly around 78-80 rpm. While the quality of a 78 is superior to the 33 ⅓ however, the length of the record could only last about 5 minutes.

And who listens to 5 min records? Could you imagine a Husker Du or Minutemen record put out this way? Since most recordings back in the   day were just singles this worked. But most modern records are LP’s or long plays with 30 minutes of playing time per side. For those collectors out there who do snag up the 78’s you know whats up. It turns out speed matters. No, not thrash but the speed of the reel-to-reel tape being recorded to the Vinyl. Fun fact old records were originally made from shellac. Yep, the stuff your grandpa finished that dresser with the one   your mom wont get rid off. Until the 40’s when WWII came along and we america decided we needed all the shellac to make explosives. They even went as far as to persuade people to donate their records not only to aid with weaponry, but also to “boost soldier morale.” So the record industry needed something else to make there 78’s. This is how we get to the term “Vinyl” or polyvinyl. Now the commercial guys are duking it out with this vinyl.

Coming up with methods of commercially producing slimmer, light weight records. By the 40’s & 50’s the industry standard had settled on 7” singles at 45RPM and 12” LP’s at 33 ⅓.