Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goodson Records: Pliable - Unbreakable - Featherweight

Goodson Records: Pliable - Unbreakable - Featherweight (English) - Goodson Gramophone Record: een nieuw geluid ( Nederlands) - Goodson and Boots (English)

The lightest, most durable, unbreakable record yet produced
Hans Koert

The GOODSON GRAMOPHONE RECORD CO. LTD. London, England - as its full manufacturers identification was labelled, produced commercial recordings between 1929 and 1931. One of the characteristic features of these white flexible records, made of a non-flammable material called Rhodoid was, that it had no separate (paper) label around the spindle hole like regular records, but its complete surface could be used for printed messages.
The Goodson Records ( collection: Hans Koert)

Goodson Records was a short lived record label which produced a flexible type of records in England between December 1929 and February 1931. They were made of a white opaque celluloid named Rhodoid, which was labelled as Non-Inflammable ( The earliest Goodson gave problems, as they happened to be easily inflammable).

Aroun d 1930 numerous producers of flexible records tried to make a living by producing light unbreakable gramophone records, that could be produced cheap in large quantities. The vulnerable shellac records were expensive to produce and broke easily. For the cheap flexible record the Great Depression seemed a godsend - the people didn't had two pennies to rub against each other and cheap records, like the cardboard Hit of the Weeks, produced more then 350,000 copies a week. The cardboard Hit of the Weeks are still best known and are fully listed on the Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies. They were playable on one side only, but with almost 5-minutes playing time, Durium suggested in 1932, that two complete songs were on one side - Two "Big" Hits. The self-changing record, the British Durium records promoted itself, the record you don't have to turn around. It was flexible and unbreakable and a promotional picture showed, that you could even use a hammer or shoe to test how "durable" the records was. And they are ....... more then 80 years later most Hit of the Weeks are still playable.

Big City Blues - Mermphis Jazzers ( 1929) ( Goodson Nº 131) (Hans Koert collection)

Other records were made of transparent plastics, like Flexo, Filmophone, Phonycord or Virginia, but most of them didn't survive time ... they warped easily and most of them are unplayable now. Goodson, was, in my opinion, the best of the rest. It promoted itself as Double-Sided and they were Featherweight. The best way to proof its qualities was playing it, Goodson suggested: Have stood the test, their mellow tone, full volume, clear cut notes and absence of surface noise, justify our claim to have produced a perfect record. Reading this, it brings a smile to your face ............ , but also other record companies like Durium greatly exaggerated its audio qualities. Goodson Records do not break and scratching does not harm them. They are flexible and so light in weight that sixty can be carried in a portable gramophone. Well, I've tried to store half of it ( my collection of Goodson contains two dozens copies )and it just fit into my Viva-tonal Columbia Grafolona Nº109A 1929 gramophone, but with space for a handful - but 60? Durium suggests in a Dutch advertisement that Minstens 35 platen kunnen in een koffergramofoon mee ( = At least 35 records can be stored in a portable gramophone) - well that seems a more realistic number ........ although if I study the Veckans skiva sleeve picture?

A handfull of Goodson to store into a portable gramophone, but 60 copies? ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Listen to one of those Goodson records: Breakaway by the Cosmopolitan Dance Players, one of the numerous anonymous studio bands directed by Fred Hall from the Grey Gull Studios (June 1929)

A great view: a Goodson playing on my portable gramophone ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The Goodson Records are unique - did you know that these records are the only records with the tune-information available on both sides of the record? The record has no (paper) label around the spindle hole which means that the info can be printed everywhere - also over the groove. The label info on the commercial releases is printed large in the middle of the record - you can't miss the hand with the bended record. In the four quarters you can read four times the same track information for both sides. As the Goodson were complete printable on both sides it was the ideal spot to promote events or advertise products. Like Durium Goodson records were used for promotion and advertisements for brands like Boots The Chemists (Always Open Day and Night), Wellsbach Lamps (United for Service To Give Good Gaslight), Henleys and British Record Washer Soap ( A free Goodson Record without advertising matter for Eighteen Cartons of Britisch record Washer Soap).
part of a Goodson record catalogue (July 1930). (negative) ( Thanks to Brian Rust)

Goodson produced also custom records, selling its surface for promotional messages. In a few previous blogs I told you about the records, released to promote the Mawson Antarctic Expedition of 1929 and about the a record issued at the 1929-1930 Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona. In one of the latest Flexible Records blogs I asked your help to complete a series of scans with Boots The Chemists advertisements. Hope you can help us.

Tomorrow I hope to post a blog about Goodson Records in Dutch, but not, as usual, a translation of the above one. Dutch visitors, anxious to learn more about this subject, normally understand English well. I love to repost an article from Het Leven from the 29th of November, 1930 entitled
Goodson Gramophone Record; een nieuw geluid!

This contribution has also been published at the Flexible-Records blog.

Hans Koert

The beautiful white colored 1930s Goodson Records are now rare 78rpm collectors items. They belonged to one of the numerous flexible records released around 1930 and it is great to read how the manufacurers promoted its product being pliable, unbreakable and featherweight. But when the ads refer to their mellow tone, full volume, clear cut notes and absence of surface noise, justify our claim to have produced a perfect record, it makes us smile in 2010. Keep Swinging loves to spotlight these forgotten sound recording mediums. If you don't want to miss it, ask for its free newsletter.

Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

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